This nOde last updated February 20th, 2005 and is permanently morphing...
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1. Knowledge derived from study, experience, or instruction.
2. Knowledge of a specific event or situation; intelligence.
3. A collection of facts or data: statistical information.
4. The act of informing or the condition of being informed; communication of knowledge: Safety instructions are provided for the information of our passengers.
5. Computer Science. A nonaccidental signal or character used as an input to a computer or communications system.
6. A numerical measure of the uncertainty of an experimental outcome.
7. Law. A formal accusation of a crime made by a public officer rather than by grand jury indictment.
- in´forma´tional adjective
information explosion (in-fer-mâ'shen
1. The current period in human history, in which the possession and dissemination of information has supplanted mechanization or industrialization as a driving force in society.
2. The rapid growth in the amount of information available today. Also called information revolution.
"The problem of the work of art as a commodity raises a large number of questions important in the theory of information..."
- Norbert Wiener
"Your trying to stop the information! You see, thats where it's at... and you can't! You can't stop the information, because the information keeps the country strong! You need a deviate! Don't shut him up!" - Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce in the film _Lenny_ (vhs/ntsc)
In the simplest everyday terms, "information" suggests
a practical chunk of reified experience, a unit of sense lodged on the hierarchy
of knowledge somewhere between data and report.
- Erik Davis - _Techgnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism In The Age Of Information_
"To see the greater importance of the transportation of information as compared with mere physical transportation, let us suppose that we have an architect in Europe supervising the construction of a building in the United States... Even at the present, there is no reason why the working copies of these plans and specifications must be transmitted to the constructionsite on the same paper on which they have been drawn up in the architect's drafting-room... Ultrafax gives a means by which a facsimile of all the documents concerned may be transmitted in a fraction of a second, and the received copies are quite as good working plans as the originals... In short, the bodily transmission of the architect and his documents may be replaced very effectively by the message-transmission of communications which do not entail the moving of a particle of matter from one end of the line to the other."
"The community extends only so far as there extends an effectual transmission of information."
(from Cybernetics, by Norbert Wiener 1948)
book _VALIS_- Vast Active Living Intelligence System - coined by Philip K. Dick
We hypostatize information into objects. Rearrangement of objects is change in the content of the information; the message has changed. This is a language which we have lost the ability to read. We ourselves are a part of this language; changes in us are changes in the content of the information. We ourselves are information-rich; information enters us, is processed and is then projected outward once more, now in an altered form. We are not aware that we are doing this, that in fact this is all we are doing.
In summary; thoughts of the brain are experienced by us as arrangements and rearrangements - change - in a physical universe; but in fact it is really information and information-processing which we substantialize. We do not merely see its thoughts as objects, but rather as the movement, or, more precisely, the placement of objects: how they become linked to one another. But we cannot read the patterns of arrangement; we cannot extract the information in it - i.e. it as information, which is what it is. The linking and relinking of objects by the Brain is actually a language but not a language like ours (since it is addressing itself and not someone or something outside itself).
The very spirit of imagination demands the redefinition of intelligence, if only to begin thinking like twentieth century brains, instead of eighteenth or nineteenth century ones. Intelligence thrives on information. Before the twentieth century the most widely accepted and scientific definition of "information" was the common-sense process of accumulating known data; knowledge was inert, predictable, and easily categorized. The universe, or so it was thought, could be mapped out in surgical precision like some deux machina that followed understandable laws. How many of us still think this way ?
At the turn of the twentieth
Heisenberg, and Schroedinger,
amongst others, turned the world of intelligence on its ear; the world,
according to the new physics and quantum
mechanics, is infinitely more mysterious and strange than ever previously
imagined. One outcome of this important update was the redefinition
of what constituted "information." In light
of living in a universe of greater uncertainties,
information was redefined as "the unpredictability of a message". This
means, the more unpredictable the message, the more information there is
in it. At this point, author William
Burroughs' axiom from _NAKED LUNCH_ "Nothing is true; everything is
permitted" might've made terrible sense to the cutting
edge scientific community.
- Antero Alli - _Occulture - The Secret Marriage of Art and Magick_
"We can record essentially anything we want about any event and recall it later. There is a synthesis of all this, which leads to the discovery of the inner dimension, which may be thought of as a higher or lower dimension. The human imagination is the dimension beyond space and time, or it precedes all dimensions. At some level it has pointlike characteristics; that's why all this talk about the hologram, because it has the pointlike characteristics of new consciousness. It has all-at-onceness. Its everywhere-at-the-same-timeness has fascinated commentators."
"I suggest that it is much more useful to try to make a kind of geometric model of consciousness, to take seriously the idea of a parallel continuum, and to say that the mind and the body are embedded in the dream and the dream is a higher-order spatial dimension. In sleep, one is released into the real world, of which the world of waking is only the surface in a very literal geometric sense. There is a plenum - recent experiments in quantum physics tend to back this up - a holographic plenum of information. All information is everywhere. Information that is not here is nowhere. Information stands outside of historical time in a kind of eternity - an eternity that does not have a temporal existence, not even the kind of temporal existence about which one may say, "It always existed." It does not have temporal duration of any sort. It is eternity. We are not primarily biological, with mind emerging as a kind of iridescence, a kind of epiphenomenon at the higher levels of organization of biology. We are hyperspatial objects of some sort that cast a shadow into matter. The shadow in matter is our physical organism."
"What fascinates me about
Manuscript_, above and beyond the historical puzzle
and above and beyond how interesting it would be to know what it actually
says, is the idea of an unreadable book. It is a kind of Borgesian
concept that there must be, somewhere, an unreadable book, and perhaps
this is it. The unreadable book hints at the idea that the world
is information. We have cognizance of the world by ordering all the
information we come upon in relation to information that we have already
accumulated - through patterns. An unreadable book in a non-English
script, with no dictionary attached, is very puzzling. We become
like linguistic oysters, we secrete around it, we encyst it into our metaphysic.
But we don't know what it says, which always carries with it the possibility
that it says something that would unhinge our concepts of things or that
its real message is its unreadability. It points to the Otherness
of the nature of information, and is what is called in structrualism a
- Terence McKenna - _Archaic Revival_
"Well I think this deepening of synchronicity and coincidence will have the effect of getting us to the end of power... I think it's harder and harder to plot with power.. even in our own time, we've seen the most powerful forces in the world totally brought low... I mean, America loses the Viet Nam War, Richard Nixon campaigning onto the presidency... it seems the more power you are the more endanger of being depotentiated you are. And I think this is about information, about the density of media... that power and information are at war with each other... that power must work hand in glove with ignorance, and that ignorance is on the run..."
- Terence McKenna - _Syntax Of Psychedelic Time_ MP3 (112k)
the alien is pure information. the alien is only made of information. is that good news or bad news? it's good news, here's why. it just so happens that at this time in history, we have produced a technology that can manipulate pure digital information. the alien needs to be downloaded into cyberspace. it's not for nothing that the net is called "the net". it is a net for catching an alien. in all the old b-movie sci movies in the 50's, one of the tropes of the plot was always "the landing zone". we must build a landing zone, go to the landing zone, locate the landing zone... the net is the landing zone.
and where is the alien? the alien is trapped in the deeper interstecies of the human soul, but can be downloaded onto the internet as a virtual reality of some sort. and this, you do this very slyly. you don't announce what i've just announced. you say, we're going to hold a contest, and we're going to have a prize, for the best simulation of a psychedelic experience, in VRML, in virtual pace. and you hold this contest and you hold it the next year, and the next year, and people are inspired to download what they think of as their weirdest visions. what they don't understand is that their weirdest visions are "the weird vision". in other words, the collective oversoul exists, dispersed, through all of us... and if we as a collective project seek to model it, to animate it, to produce a reasonable simulacrum of it, in virtual reality, it will come to be... we will summon it out of ourselves... and i think at a certain point, we will understand the nature of the enterprise. the alchemists dream of something like this... the summoning into existence of the cosmic anthropos. the mystique atom, the philsopher's stone, the transcendental object at the end of time...
psychedelics were a window, until the advent of virtual reality and the internet and the new information technology - and they melded to psychedelic intent, opened the possibility of opening that window and stepping through it into the most beautiful dreams human beings have ever dreamed.
- Terence McKenna _Chicago After TX Whole Life Expo Pt. 2_ MP3 (48k)
Information Science, discipline that deals with the generation, collection, organization, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of recorded knowledge. The field brings together ideas and technologies from many areas, including the social sciences, computer science, cybernetics, linguistics, management, neuroscience, and systems theory. Information scientists cover a wide range of activities, from creation of file structures to simulations of the processes of human thought. They consider such challenges as determining the extent to which information systems can be made easy to understand and use, devising ways in which information systems can help solve problems, and furthering understanding of human thought processes in order to develop intellectual networks to serve and advance both the individual and society. They rely on various sites for information storage and service, including libraries, information banks, archives, switching centers, and organizations such as schools, businesses, universities, and medical centers.
Information science grew from the field of documentation, which emerged when digital computers were developed during the 1940s and early 1950s. Automated searching of files, coordinate indexing, and controlled vocabularies were introduced in response to the urgent need to create easy access to the contents of scientific journals. In the 1960s massive collections of documents were transferred to databases, enabling various searches to be done by computer. By 1980 information science had become a thoroughly interdisciplinary field, and in the mid-1980s artificial intelligence (AI) was very quickly becoming the center of research activity. Artificial intelligence refers to the machine's capacity to mimic intelligent human behavior. One important product of AI is the front-end system mind, a program that allows nonexperts to use their own natural language to retrieve information from databases.
Information Superhighway, term popularly used to refer to the availability and use of advanced information services by means of a variety of high-capacity data transport facilities, especially computers and computer networks. The term was coined to convey an image of a national infrastructure that would provide abundant information at high capacities to the general public. It was made popular by United States Vice President Albert Gore to emphasize the importance of such an infrastructure. The concept of an information superhighway remains abstract and has been superseded somewhat by the concept of a national, or global, information infrastructure, which is less focused on the notion of just a single, publicly owned means of information transport. In practice, the computer network known as the Internet best exemplifies all these concepts. However, developments within the telecommunications industry, such as interactive television, may also promote an information superhighway in the future.
Information Theory, theory concerned with the mathematical laws governing the transmission, reception, and processing of information. More specifically, information theory deals with the numerical measurement of information, the representation of information (such as encoding), and the capacity of communication systems to transmit, receive, and process information. Encoding can refer to the transformation of speech or images intoelectric or electromagnetic signals, or to the encoding of messages to ensure privacy. Information theory was first developed in 1948 by the American electrical engineer Claude E. Shannon. The need for a theoretical basis for communication technology arose from the increasing complexity and crowding of communication channels such as telephone and teletype networks and radio communication systems. Information theory also encompasses all other forms of information transmission and storage, including television and the electrical pulses transmitted in computers and in magnetic and optical data recording.
When a message is transmitted through a channel, or medium, such as a wire or the atmosphere, it becomes susceptible to interference from many sources, which distorts and degrades the signals. Two of the major concerns of information theory are the reduction of noise-induced errors in communication systems and the efficient use of total channel capacity. Efficient transmission and storage of information require the reduction of the number of bits used for encoding. This is possible when processing English texts because letters are far from being completely random. The probability is extremely high, for example, that the letter following the sequence of letters informatio is an n. This redundancy enables a person to understand messages in which vowels are missing, for example, or to decipher unclear handwriting. In modern communications systems, artificial redundancy is added to the encoding of messages in order to reduce errors in message transmission.
"information exchange is the ONLY
way to ever get real change."
Throbbing Gristle - Re/Search Magazine 1982
THE MANDELBROT SET?
War is a crime. Ask the infantry. Ask the dead.
-- Ernest Hemingway
According to computer scientist Dr. Jacques Vallee, information is now doubling every 18 months.
Nearly four billion years of evolution to get to the first tool. Almost four million years to arrive at the information density of Rome in 1 A.D. Only one-and-a-half thousand years for information to double and for the West to arrive at Leonardo, the high point of Renaissance and the dawning of Protestantism. Two-and-a-half centuries for the next doubling, the rise of Industrialism, the birth of Democracy -- and the radical supra-democratic heresies of socialism, anarchism, feminism... Only six years for the doubling of information between 1967 and 1973.
Even then, nobody I knew
personally had a home computer. Today everybody I know has a home computer.
We are in what Alvin Toffler calls the Third Wave -- Information Civilization. If Vallee is right about information doubling every 18 months, and Gordon is right about fractals increasing where information flow increases, then everything must become steadily more unpredictable from here on -- more "chaotic" in the mathematical sense.
That "chaos" may be expressed as breakdown and violence, such as we are seeing in the current rumble [Persian Gulf War, 1991] between Goddam Insane and Huge Berserk Rebel Warthog. In the doubling of information between1900 and 1950, we went through a World Depression and two World Wars.
The "chaos" may, however, be expressed instead as a rapid acceleration toward a more stable and coherent world. After the democratic Revolutions of the late 18th Century, Europe settled into peace and steady progress for nearly a hundred years.
The "chaos" is most likely leading us to social transformations that none of us can foresee with more than foggy approximation.
I think it will include economic collapse and economic recovery, space colonization, longevity, Bucky's World Energy Grid, and breakthroughs in nanotechnology that will literally make the most advanced scientific gadgets "as cheap as dirt." Is this information-acceleration a Mandelbrot fractal, as Terrence McKenna claims? Will we reach a point in 2012 where information doubles a million times a second?
I don't know. But, just as the Persian Gulf War was an awful shock for those of us who dare to dream of a better world, I think there are other shocks ahead that will be even more disconcerting -- to those who think they can still "govern" the world by violence. In the first month of this war there has been more anti-war protest, world-wide, than any year of the Vietnam war... I don't know. I have no infallible crystal ball -- but the day I decided not to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge in 1955, I committed myself to going along for the ride, however rough it gets. I also try, within my limits, to make a contribution that will add to the probability of Utopia and decrease the probability of Oblivion, for us all.
- Robert Anton Wilson - _Cosmic Trigger Volume 2_
The "fact" is never inert or "neutral.", but it can be both "good" and "evil" (or beyond them) in countless variations and combinations. We, finally, are the artists of this immeasurable discourse. We create values. We do this because we are alive. Information is as big a "mess" as the material world it reflects and transforms. We embrace the mess, all of it. It's all life.
But within the vastchaos of the alive, certain information and certain material things begin to coalesce into a poetics or a way-of-knowing or a way-of-acting. We can draw certain pro-tem "conclusions", as long as we don't plaster them over and set them up on altars. "Information" is a chaos; knowledge is the spontaneous ordering of that chaos; freedom is the surfing of the wave of that spontaneity.
- Peter Lamborn Wilson - _Info Wars_
There is a wealth of information built into us ... tucked away in the genetic material in every one of our cells ... without some means of access, there is no way even to begin to guess at the extent and quality of what is there. The psychedelic drugs allow exploration of this interior world, and insights into its nature.
There is an ecology of information. Stars will die; people and gods will die, but information is conserved. Macroscopic information decays to microscopic information. But microscopic information is eventually concentrated. Nothing is lost. Gods exist to devour information. The lower intelligences sort, filter, concentrate and organize information. And the gods feed. - _Neverness_ by David Zindell
Information is a term with many meanings depending on context, but is as a rule closely related to such concepts as meaning, knowledge, negentropy, communication, truth, representation, and mental stimulus.
Although many people speak of the advent of the "information age," the "information society," and information technologies, and even though information science and computer science are often in the spotlight, the word "information" is often used without careful consideration of the various meanings it has come to acquire.
The following is a list of the most important meanings, roughly in order of narrowest to broadest.
1 Information as negative entropy
2 Information as a message
3 Information as a pattern
4 Information as sensory input
5 Information as an influence which leads to a transformation
Information as negative entropy
Information is negative entropy—the instructions that are needed to produce order or reduce uncertainty (whether about future events or past or current conditions). Information in this sense can be measured. Because it conveys accurate instructions about creating order or reducing uncertainty, it can be said to be useful, true knowledge. It helps people make judgments and take actions and in some contexts is called intelligence. By contrast, disinformation signifies the transmission of falsehoods in an attempt to alter the judgements or actions of others.
Information as a message
Information is a message, something to be communicated from the sender to the receiver, as opposed to noise, which is something that inhibits the flow of communication or creates misunderstanding. If information is viewed merely as a message, it does not have to be accurate. It may be a lie, or just a sound of a kiss. This model assumes a sender and a receiver, and does not attach any significance to the idea that information is something that can be extracted from an environment, e.g., through observation or measurement. Information in this sense is simply any message the sender chooses to create.
This view of information came into prominence with the publication in 1948 of an influential paper by Claude Shannon, "A Mathematical Theory of Communication." This paper provides the foundations of information theory and endows the word information not only with a technical meaning but also a measure. If the sending device is equally likely to send any one of a set of N messages, then the preferred measure of "the information produced when one message is chosen from the set" is the logarithm of N. Shannon continues:
The choice of a logarithmic base corresponds to the choice of a unit for measuring information. If the base 2 is used the resulting units may be called binary digits, or more briefly bits, a word suggested by J. W. Tukey. A device with two stable positions, such as a relay or a flip-flop circuit, can store one bit of information. N such devices can store N bits ... [The Bell System Technical Journal, Vol. 27, p. 379, (July 1948).]
Information as a pattern
Information is any represented pattern. This view assumes neither accuracy nor directly communicating parties, but instead assumes a separation between an object and its representation, as well as the involvement of someone capable of understanding this relationship. This view seems therefore to require a conscious mind. Consider the following example: economic statistics represent an economy, however inaccurately. What is commonly referred to as data in computing, statistics, and other fields, are forms of information in this sense. The electro-magnetic patterns in a computer network and connected devices are related to something other than the pattern itself, such as text to be displayed and keyboard input. Signals, signs, and symbols are also in this category. Painting and drawing contain information to the extent that they represent something such as an assortment of objects on a table, a profile, or a landscape. In other words, when a pattern of something is transposed to a pattern of something else, the latter is information. This type of information still assumes some involvement of conscious mind, of either the entity constructing the representation, or the entity interpreting it.
When one constructs a representation of an object, one can selectively extract from the object (sampling) or use a system of signs to replace (coding), or both. The sampling and coding result in representation. An example of the former is a "sample" of a product; an example of the latter is "verbal description" of a product. Both contain information of the product, however inaccurate. When one interprets representation, one can predict a broader pattern from a limited number of observations (inference) or understand the relation between patterns of two different things (decoding). One example of the former is to sip a soup to know if it is spoiled; an example of the latter is examining footprints to determine the animal and its condition. In both cases, information sources are not constructed or presented by some "sender" of information. To repeat, information in this sense does not assume direct communication, but it assumes involvement of some conscious mind.
Information as sensory input
Information is any type of sensory input. When an organism with a nervous system receives an input, it transforms the input into an electrical signal. This is regarded information by some. The idea of representation is still relevant, but in a slightly different manner. That is, while abstract painting does not contain represent anything concretely, when the viewer sees the painting, it is nevertheless transformed into electrical signals that create a representation of the painting. Defined this way, information does not have to be related to truth, communication, or representation of an object. Entertainment in general is not intended to be informative. Music, the performing arts, amusement parks, works of fiction and so on are thus forms of information in this sense, but they are not forms of information according to the previous definitions above. Consider another example: food supplies both nutrition and taste for those who eat it. If information is equated to sensory input, then nutrition is not information but taste is.
Information as an influence which leads to a transformation
Information is any type of pattern that influences the formation or transformation of other patterns. In this sense, there is no need for a conscious mind to perceive, much less appreciate, the pattern. Consider, for example, DNA. The sequence of nucleotides is a pattern that influences the formation and development of an organism without any need for a conscious mind. Systems theory at times seems to refer to information in this sense, assuming information does not necessarily involve any conscious mind, and patterns circulating (due to feedback) in the system can be called information. In other words, it can be said that information in this sense is something potentially perceived as representation, though not created or presented for that purpose.
In 2003, J. D. Bekenstein claimed there is a growing trend in physics to define the physical world as being made of information itself (and thus information is defined in this way).
When Marshall McLuhan speaks of media and their effects on human cultures, he refers to the structure of artifacts that in turn shape our behaviors and mindsets. Also, pheromones are often said to be "information" in this sense.
* Algorithmic information theory
* Information theory
* Library and Information Science
* Information mapping
* Systems theory and cybernetics
* Classified information