Information

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Information

Postby Dave H on Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:09 am

I am not a spammer but this posting may be in the wrong place. I am sort of responding to Teiana's call for more postings.

In one of Teiana's diary posts she refers to information and mentions the work of Shannon. Well Shannon detailed the capacity of a network to carry information though he did nothing on what is information and the value of information. A few months ago when I was searching for information about Bateson I found an article on what is information. The article left me wondering how does a system identify that feedback information is more important or other information and also do super nodes develop in a network because information from them is more valuable than information from other nodes though how is this determined. I am still looking for answers and I wonder if anybody has any ideas.
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Re: Information

Postby Teiana on Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:23 pm

not sure if i have ideas, but it is an interesting question.

i think 'how a system decides what feedback information is important' depends on the system. if the system is a person then we use criteria (eg, survival) to decide on whether some information is more important than other. (eg, i can see television, i can smell smoke - hopefully we'll realise to check if there's a fire). If the system is a computer, it's all down to algorithms or something, you'd have to build in some means of making things more important. (eg a computer system that adds signals, and keeps count, and puts them in order, (number of people buying balloons vs number of people buying umbrellas, keep count, prioritise stock buying decision towards greatest count.). Unless you built in something to count or otherwise create a priority, things would have the same importance.

so my question is really, in your question, when you use the words 'network' and 'system' what are they representing? is there an example we can use?
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Re: Information

Postby Dave H on Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:36 pm

I have a natural tendancy to refer to network when I should really be talking about system.

When thinking about what information is I was mainly considering 3 different systems - the Internet, a living system and a non specific complex system where there is both feedback and other information inputs. The difficulty is that the rules appear to be different with the Internet to the other 2 systems and I feel that there should be general rules applicable to all types of information and systems. I am still considring this issue and trying to find solutions.
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Re: Information

Postby Karen on Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:55 am

An interesting question but I'm not sure if it is possible to have rules applicable to all systems. I imagine there is probably a solution but I think it depends on how dynamic a system is. Although a human programmes a computer it is not dynamic in the same way that a human is, the information it selects is predetermined in many instances. In a closed system is it not 'told' beforehand what is important; for example a thermostat on a water heater can only react according to what it is programmed to do. But what about complex adaptive systems - only a living system can cope with its environment with a reactive/predictive response, I can't see how it is possible to compare even a complex system and a complex adaptive system in terms of how a system decides what feedback information is important.

This has got me thinking and heading back to some reading.....
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Re: Information

Postby Dave H on Wed Oct 17, 2012 11:10 am

Sorry for the delayed response but I have been thinking about the comments and cannot come up with anything positive.

I feel that there must be a common definition or meaning of information which does not vary depending on the type of system that is using it. I consider that parallels could be drawn between information and energy in that energy is always the same whatever system is using it. Therefore the different types of systems must interact with information according to different rules. I do not fully understand why this different interaction happens and I have been trying to develop my ideas further but with little success.
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Re: Information

Postby Teiana on Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:08 pm

so is information a form of energy and if not, why?
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Re: Information

Postby Dave H on Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:25 pm

I do not consider that information is a form of energy because I feel that it has different properties though this is making me think about the difference. Currently I would not like to try explaining the difference.

What I was trying to say and you have made me wonder if this is valid is that the basic nature of energy is the same but different rules can be applied to it and that there is a basic unit of information but different rules are applied to it according to the type of system. I feel that I need a better method of explaining this but first I need to develop a better understanding of why different rules apply. However to do this I need to be able to explain what I am thinking and currently I have not reached that stage.
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Re: Information

Postby Teiana on Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:54 pm

what do all forms of energy have in common? sorry i'd say but my brains mushy right now. i can think of questions better than answers. I'm sure there might be a perfectly simple reason 'information isn't a form of energy' but i do wonder if it could be.

heat energy, kinetic energy... (goes away thinking)
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Re: Information

Postby jsp_1983 on Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:23 am

If I was to offer a half-baked idea of what energy is, I'd suggest that it's the impetus for work to be done. That is, that it compels work in some way (and work can be taken as having a very broad meaning).

What is done to energy determines how or what work is done, and how efficiently. If I ignite petrol, it should set on fire. If I pour water on it... I just make more of a mess (although, fires might be as messy) and potentially make it useless. If I control the flow of petrol to the ignition source, does that make it more efficient? That probably depends on the context of the use (eg, for light or motion it could be more efficient than it would be if it was for a bonfire, in which case, I'd be inclined to throw a match at the barrel). Regardless, these actions are absolutes, ie ignited petrol will always set alight.

Looking at how these principles can be applied to information is where, for me, it gets messy. Unlike the petrol, if someone tells me some information, the reaction or output to that event is not 100% predictable. Also, if I am told the same information again, there is no reason for the reaction or output to be the same as first time round. But... that information might give me the potential for work to be done. Applying that particular principle to the real world, we can see that information is the basis for lots of work being done in all sorts of organisations, just as metal or potatoes might be the input in to other organisations.

Taking it a step further, information as a potential driver of work/ output can be restricted. Its scarcity may be somewhat like the scarcity of resources and goods.

So going with the narrowed definition of what energy is - a propeller of work - I think there is ground to suggest that information can be seen as such, but that it does not parallel with physical energy.
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Re: Information

Postby Dave H on Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:13 pm

There are some interesting points in the comparison of petrol with information and I need to explore some of the points in detail.

With energy it is never destroyed but just changes form as you use it. I have tried applying this idea to information and I am not convinced of the ourcome. In some ways the information is the same but the usage of it causes something to change which is the user of the information.This seems to be different to energy and I am still working on what this means.
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