Re: Information

From: TJ Olney (
Date: Wed May 02 2001 - 02:27:19 BST

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    From: TJ Olney <>
    Subject: Re: Information
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    What makes information informatiion.

    >If you want to be "precise", then offer a better word that can describe
    >that *something* which makes information distinguishable from data, and
    >data distinguishable from random fields..

    Take the light switch.
     If the difference between on and off makes a difference to anything in
    that switch's environment, it is information-- to that anything.

    So, for instance, there is no information _for me_ in the orientation of
    the uninstalled light switches in a box in my house. There is no
    information _for me_ in the orientation of a light switch in your current
    environment as you read this. There is information _for me_ if the
    orientation of a light switch in my presence changes and I am aware of the
    change. What else happens at the same time will determine the nature of
    that information -- light goes on, off, blows out, causes short-circuit
    for whole house, etc.

    Finally, if the position of the light switch lying on the ground with no
    people around makes it easier for a slug to lay its eggs in a protected
    environment, then the switch position provides information to the slug.

    Information is a system phenomenon dealing with difference. Shannon-Weaver
    type "information" is sometimes information, sometimes not. It is
    unfortunately another "logical type" problem to consider states as
    information without reference to something for which the state makes a

    See Bateson for an excellent treatment of this.


    On Thu, 26 Apr 2001, Brent Silby wrote:
    > Hi Robin,
    > I've just checked out your website and enjoyed my visit. You are putting together a very interesting research project, which has an obvious connection to memetics.
    > With your indulgence, I have a couple of questions... just interested in your thoughts...
    > Question 1: Would you consider the state of a light switch to be an item of information if there were no intelligent observers (or understanders) of the information -- perhaps, say, if life on Earth became extinct? Or do you think information requires understanding in order to be considered information?
    > Question 2: Do you think that high quality information can be reduced to large quantities of primitive information? Or is there something about some information quality that cannot be reduced?
    > Interesting topic, keep up the good work.
    > Cheers,
    > Brent.
    > ------------------------
    > Brent Silby 2001
    > Memetics Research
    > and Engineering Project
    > BasePage:
    > Check Out: Earth Survival,
    > Try this one: Correcting the Creationist,
    > Room 601a
    > Department of Philosophy
    > University of Canterbury
    > Email:
    > __________________________________________

    -- TJ Olney  Not all those who wander are lost.

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