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on information

Written on July 8, 2007

In the recent book Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages, Alex Wright defines information: “Information is the juxtaposition of data to create meaning.” (p. 10)


I liked the definition given by Hans Christian von Baeyer in Information: The New Language of Science: “the transfer of form from one medium to another, or, the communication of relationships.” (p. 25).

Richard Saul Wurman in Information Anxiety (I have the 1st ed. from 1989) suggests that information is relative to the person: “Information must be that which leads to understanding. Everyone needs a personal measure against which to define the word. What constitutes information to one person may be data to another. If it doesn’t make sense to you, it doesn’t qualify for the appellation.” (p. 38-39) From that perspective, the UC Berkeley project to measure “how much information” is really measuring data, or potential information.

Perhaps data + meaning = information, and information + understanding = knowledge; then knowledge + experience = wisdom.


Google search: “define: information”

A course on History of Information from UC Berkeley School of Information (Fall 2006) – with lecture podcasts, pdf files and links to some readings.

Filed in: culture.

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