Re: Memetics framework

Keith Elis (
Tue, 03 Mar 1998 15:38:08 -0500

Date: Tue, 03 Mar 1998 15:38:08 -0500
From: Keith Elis <>
Subject: Re: Memetics framework

Josip Pajk wrote:

> This is the same kind of problem I had
> when I was trying to identify what is the (real) source of information in
> surveillance systems. In a regular base, radar and other observers are
> named as sources of information. My point of view is that they are not. The
> source of information is actually the presence of an aircraft in the radar
> operational range. Without this fact there is no information for the people
> sitting in front of the radar display.

Hmm. I don't think this is entirely correct since an airplane is not an
airplane until it is identified as such. Maybe we ought to distinguish
between data and information. The stream of bits that ensues when a lump
of metal is "perceived" by electromagnetic sensing is not the
information, per se. The information comes only when the stream of bits
is defined to be an airplane. The mass of atoms that we would otherwise
call an airplane has no significance until it is labeled as such. That
is, an airplane is not an airplane until it is labeled "airplane."

This applies to all sensory input. The entire system seems to include
the airplane, the radar apparatus, the computer that transforms data
into an understandable visual representation, the routine that defines
the data as an airplane, the subroutine that labels the airplane
"airplane", the eye that views the radar screen, the visual cortex that
makes sense of the signals that stream from the retina, and the cortex
itself which attaches meaning to the label "airplane".

It's a process of working from the representation of meaning (the
airplane/radar system), to the meaning of the representation (the human

>There are maybe other data gathered
> from the radar (as a source of information) interesting to the service
> staff, i.e. malfunction data, but they are not in any close correlation
> with the other source of (tactical) information (the aircraft). It is a
> matter of definition what the system is, what are itís boundaries, what
> data the destination is interested in.

I'll throw in with that. Definition is awfully important.

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