Information by Ted Byfield

By | November 11, 2014

When does information turn from data into meaning? While reading Information by Ted Byfield I was struck with how the language used in this essay reminds me of the language used to discuss the forming of personal belief systems, in that both are based in the intangible, yet hold powerful meaning and potentiality. The concept of Information itself is abstract because its meaning changes based on the context, with almost anything able to be considered information. What is interesting then is not information itself, but how we use this abstract and apply it to create something concrete or tangible. Like our discussion last week of Foucault’s The Order of Things, information lives in the same non-place as language, only existing once it can be accessed or named. Byfield says:

“so, to the growing list of paradoxes that have marked information for centuries– whether it is an action or a thing, singular or plural, an informal assertion or fact or a procedure for making a formal statement, its ambivalent relationship to operations of state, and so on– we can add some modern ones: It is abstract yet measurable, it is significant without necessarily being meaningful, and last but not least, it is everywhere and nowhere” (pg. 128)

Though the discussion of information in this essay focuses on its application in technology, I believe this is again an example of the human hand in our ability to process and access knowledge, in that information is omnipotent and gains its meaning through its application or use.

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