of symbols, or it is the meaning that can be interpreted from such a message or collection of messages. Information can be recorded or transmitted. It can be recorded as signs
, or conveyed as signals by wave
s. Information is any kind of event that affects the state
of a dynamic system
Information can tell us everything. It has all the answers. But they are answers to questions we have not asked, and which doubtless don’t even arise.
Wisdom is dead. Long live information.
Do not seek for information of which you cannot make use.
Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.
When action grows unprofitable, gather information; when information grows unprofitable, sleep.
What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.
Private information is practically the source of every large modern fortune.
In 2007, for the first time ever, more information was generated in one year than had been produced in the entire previous five thousand years - the period since the invention of writing.
of symbols, or it is the meaning that can be interpreted from such a message or collection of messages. Information can be recorded or transmitted. It can be recorded as signs
, or conveyed as signals by wave
s. Information is any kind of event that affects the state
of a dynamic system
. The concept
has numerous other meanings in different contexts. Moreover, the concept of information is closely related to notions of constraint
, form, instruction
, mental stimulus
, and especially entropy
EtymologyThe English word was apparently derived from the Latin
stem (information-) of the nominative (informatio): this noun is in its turn derived from the verb "informare" (to inform) in the sense of "to give form to the mind", "to discipline", "instruct", "teach": "Men so wise should go and inform their kings." (1330) Inform itself comes (via French
informer) from the Latin verb informare, to give form, to form an idea of. Furthermore, Latin itself already contained the word informatio meaning concept or idea, but the extent to which this may have influenced the development of the word information in English is not clear.
The ancient Greek
word for form was μορφή (morphe; cf. morph) and also εἶδος (eidos) "kind, idea, shape, set", the latter word was famously used in a technical philosophical sense by Plato
(and later Aristotle
) to denote the ideal identity or essence of something (see Theory of forms
). "Eidos" can also be associated with thought
or even concept
As sensory inputOften information is viewed as a type of input to an organism
. Inputs are of two kinds. Some inputs are important to the function of the organism (for example, food) or system (energy
) by themselves. In his book Sensory Ecology, Dusenbery called these causal inputs. Other inputs (information) are important only because they are associated with causal inputs and can be used to predict the occurrence of a causal input at a later time (and perhaps another place). Some information is important because of association with other information but eventually there must be a connection to a causal input. In practice, information is usually carried by weak stimuli that must be detected by specialized sensory systems and amplified by energy inputs before they can be functional to the organism or system. For example, light is often a causal input to plants but provides information to animals. The colored light reflected from a flower is too weak to do much photosynthetic work but the visual system of the bee detects it and the bee's nervous system uses the information to guide the bee to the flower, where the bee often finds nectar or pollen, which are causal inputs, serving a nutritional function.
As representation and complexityThe cognitive scientist
and applied mathematician Ronaldo Vigo argues that information is a relative concept that involves at least two related entities in order to make quantitative sense. These are: any dimensionally-defined category of objects S, and any of its subsets R. R, in essence, is a representation of S, or, in other words, carries or conveys representational (and hence, conceptual) information about S. Vigo then defines the amount of information that R conveys about S as the rate of change in the complexity of S whenever the objects in R are removed from S. Under "Vigo information", pattern, invariance, complexity, representation, and information—five fundamental constructs of universal science—are unified under a novel mathematical framework. Among other things, the framework aims to overcome the limitations of Shannon-Weaver information when attempting to characterize and measure subjective information.
As an influence which leads to a transformationInformation 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 nucleotide
s is a pattern that influences the formation and development of an organism without any need for a conscious mind.
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. For example, Gregory Bateson
defines "information" as a "difference that makes a difference".
If, however, the premise of "influence" implies that information has been perceived by a conscious mind and also interpreted by it, the specific context associated with this interpretation may cause the transformation of the information into knowledge
. Complex definitions of both "information" and "knowledge" make such semantic and logical analysis difficult, but the condition of "transformation" is an important point in the study of information as it relates to knowledge, especially in the business discipline of knowledge management
. In this practice, tools and processes are used to assist a knowledge worker
in performing research and making decisions, including steps such as:
- reviewing information in order to effectively derive value and meaning
- referencing metadataMetadataThe term metadata is an ambiguous term which is used for two fundamentally different concepts . Although the expression "data about data" is often used, it does not apply to both in the same way. Structural metadata, the design and specification of data structures, cannot be about data, because at...
if any is available
- establishing a relevant contextContext (language use)Context is a notion used in the language sciences in two different ways, namely as* verbal context* social context- Verbal context :...
, often selecting from many possible contexts
- deriving new knowledge from the information
- making decisions or recommendations from the resulting knowledge.
Stewart (2001) argues that the transformation of information into knowledge is a critical one, lying at the core of value creation and competitive advantage for the modern enterprise.
The Danish Dictionary of Information Terms argues that information only provides an answer to a posed question. Whether the answer provides knowledge depends on the informed person. So a generalized definition of the concept should be: "Information" = An answer to a specific question".
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, pheromone
s are often said to be "information" in this sense.
As a property in physicsIn 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) (see Digital physics
). Information has a well-defined meaning in physics. Examples of this include the phenomenon of quantum entanglement where particles can interact without reference to their separation or the speed of light. Information itself cannot travel faster than light even if the information is transmitted indirectly. This could lead to the fact that all attempts at physically observing a particle with an "entangled" relationship to another are slowed down, even though the particles are not connected in any other way other than by the information they carry.
Another link is demonstrated by the Maxwell's demon
thought experiment. In this experiment, a direct relationship between information and another physical property, entropy
, is demonstrated. A consequence is that it is impossible to destroy information without increasing the entropy of a system; in practical terms this often means generating heat. Another, more philosophical outcome is that information could be thought of as interchangeable with energy. Thus, in the study of logic gates, the theoretical lower bound of thermal energy released by an AND gate is higher than for the NOT gate (because information is destroyed in an AND gate and simply converted in a NOT gate). Physical information is of particular importance in the theory of quantum computers.
Technologically mediated informationIt is estimated that the world's technological capacity to store information grew from 2.6 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 1986, which is the informational equivalent to less than one 730-MB CD-ROM
per person in 1986 (539 MB per person), to 295 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 2007. This is the informational equivalent of almost 61 CD-ROM
per person in 2007.
The world’s combined technological capacity to receive information through one-way broadcast
networks was the informational equivalent of 174 newspapers per person per day in 2007.
The world's combined effective capacity to exchange information through two-way telecommunication
networks was the informational equivalent of 6 newspapers per person per day in 2007.
As recordsRecords are a specialized form of information. Essentially, records are information produced consciously or as by-products of business activities or transactions and retained because of their value. Primarily their value is as evidence of the activities of the organization but they may also be retained for their informational value. Sound records management
ensures that the integrity of records is preserved for as long as they are required.
The international standard on records management, ISO 15489, defines records as "information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business". The International Committee on Archives (ICA) Committee on electronic records defined a record as, "a specific piece of recorded information generated, collected or received in the initiation, conduct or completion of an activity and that comprises sufficient content, context and structure to provide proof or evidence of that activity".
Records may be maintained to retain corporate memory of the organization or to meet legal, fiscal or accountability requirements imposed on the organization. Willis (2005) expressed the view that sound management of business records and information delivered "...six key requirements for good corporate governance
...transparency; accountability; due process; compliance; meeting statutory and common law requirements; and security of personal and corporate information."
Information and semioticsBeynon-Davies explains the multi-faceted concept of information in terms of signs and signal-sign systems. Signs themselves can be considered in terms of four inter-dependent levels, layers or branches of semiotics
: pragmatics, semantics, syntax, and empirics. These four layers serve to connect the social world on the one hand with the physical or technical world on the other...
is concerned with the purpose of communication. Pragmatics links the issue of signs with the context within which signs are used. The focus of pragmatics is on the intentions of living agents underlying communicative behaviour. In other words, pragmatics link language to action.
is concerned with the meaning of a message conveyed in a communicative act. Semantics considers the content of communication. Semantics is the study of the meaning of signs - the association between signs and behaviour. Semantics can be considered as the study of the link between symbols and their referents or concepts; particularly the way in which signs relate to human behaviour.
is concerned with the formalism used to represent a message. Syntax as an area studies the form of communication in terms of the logic and grammar of sign systems. Syntax is devoted to the study of the form rather than the content of signs and sign-systems.
Empirics is the study of the signals used to carry a message; the physical characteristics of the medium of communication. Empirics is devoted to the study of communication channels and their characteristics, e.g., sound, light, electronic transmission etc..
Nielsen (2008) discusses the relationship between semiotics and information in relation to dictionaries. The concept of lexicographic information cost
s is introduced and refers to the efforts users of dictionaries need to make in order to, first, find the data sought and, secondly, understand the data so that they can generate information.
Communication normally exists within the context of some social situation. The social situation sets the context for the intentions conveyed (pragmatics) and the form in which communication takes place. In a communicative situation intentions are expressed through messages which comprise collections of inter-related signs taken from a language which is mutually understood by the agents involved in the communication. Mutual understanding implies that agents involved understand the chosen language in terms of its agreed syntax (syntactics) and semantics. The sender codes the message in the language and sends the message as signals along some communication channel (empirics). The chosen communication channel will have inherent properties which determine outcomes such as the speed with which communication can take place and over what distance.
More recently Shu-Kun Lin proposed a simple definition of information: Information is the amount of the data after data compression.
- AbstractionAbstractionAbstraction is a process by which higher concepts are derived from the usage and classification of literal concepts, first principles, or other methods....
- Accuracy and precisionAccuracy and precisionIn the fields of science, engineering, industry and statistics, the accuracy of a measurement system is the degree of closeness of measurements of a quantity to that quantity's actual value. The precision of a measurement system, also called reproducibility or repeatability, is the degree to which...
- Classified informationClassified informationClassified information is sensitive information to which access is restricted by law or regulation to particular groups of persons. A formal security clearance is required to handle classified documents or access classified data. The clearance process requires a satisfactory background investigation...
- ComplexityComplexityIn general usage, complexity tends to be used to characterize something with many parts in intricate arrangement. The study of these complex linkages is the main goal of complex systems theory. In science there are at this time a number of approaches to characterizing complexity, many of which are...
- Complex adaptive systemComplex adaptive systemComplex adaptive systems are special cases of complex systems. They are complex in that they are dynamic networks of interactions and relationships not aggregations of static entities...
- Complex systemComplex systemA complex system is a system composed of interconnected parts that as a whole exhibit one or more properties not obvious from the properties of the individual parts....
- Complex adaptive system
- CyberneticsCyberneticsCybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems. Cybernetics is closely related to information theory, control theory and systems theory, at least in its first-order form...
- Data storage device#Recording medium
- ExformationExformationExformation is a term coined by Danish science writer Tor Nørretranders in his book The User Illusion published in English 1998. It is meant to mean explicitly discarded information...
- Free Information InfrastructureFree Information InfrastructureFree Information Infrastructure is a term used primarily in Europe mirroring the official US term National Information Infrastructure, introduced in early nineties by a U.S. Patent Office paper...
- Freedom of informationFreedom of informationFreedom of information refers to the protection of the right to freedom of expression with regards to the Internet and information technology . Freedom of information may also concern censorship in an information technology context, i.e...
- Gregory BatesonGregory BatesonGregory Bateson was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields. He had a natural ability to recognize order and pattern in the universe...
- Information and communication technologiesInformation and communication technologiesInformation and communications technology or information and communication technology, usually abbreviated as ICT, is often used as an extended synonym for information technology , but is usually a more general term that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of...
- Information architectureInformation ArchitectureInformation architecture is the art of expressing a model or concept of information used in activities that require explicit details of complex systems. Among these activities are library systems, Content Management Systems, web development, user interactions, database development, programming,...
- Information brokerInformation brokerAn information broker, also known as an independent information professional or information consultant, is a person or business that researches information for clients...
- Information continuumInformation continuumThe term Information continuum is used to describe the whole set of all information, in connection with information management. The term may be used in reference to the information or the information infrastructure of a people, a species, a scientific subject or an institution.The Internet is...
- Information entropy
- Information geometryInformation geometryInformation geometry is a branch of mathematics that applies the techniques of differential geometry to the field of probability theory. It derives its name from the fact that the Fisher information is used as the Riemannian metric when considering the geometry of probability distribution families...
- Information inequity
- Information infrastructureInformation InfrastructureAn information infrastructure is defined by Hanseth as "a shared, evolving, open, standardized, and heterogeneous installed base" and by Pironti as all of the people, processes, procedures, tools, facilities, and technology which supports the creation, use, transport, storage, and destruction of...
- Information ladderInformation ladderThe information ladder is a diagram created by education professor Norman Longworth to describe the stages in human learning. According to the ladder, a learner moves through the following progression to construct "wisdom" at the highest level from "data" at the lowest level:Whereas the first two...
- Information mappingInformation mappingInformation Mapping is a technique that divides and labels information to facilitate comprehension, use, and recall. It was originally developed by Robert E. Horn.- Overview :...
- Information overloadInformation overload"Information overload" is a term popularized by Alvin Toffler in his bestselling 1970 book Future Shock. It refers to the difficulty a person can have understanding an issue and making decisions that can be caused by the presence of too much information...
- Information processingInformation processingInformation processing is the change of information in any manner detectable by an observer. As such, it is a process which describes everything which happens in the universe, from the falling of a rock to the printing of a text file from a digital computer system...
- Information processorInformation processorAn information processor or information processing system, as its name suggests, is a system which takes information in one form and processes it into another form, e.g...
- Information sensitivityInformation sensitivityInformation sensitivity is the control of access to information or knowledge that might result in loss of an advantage or level of security if disclosed to others who might have low or unknown trustability or undesirable intentions....
- Information systemsInformation systemsInformation Systems is an academic/professional discipline bridging the business field and the well-defined computer science field that is evolving toward a new scientific area of study...
- Information superhighwayInformation superhighwayThe information superhighway or infobahnwas a popular term used through the 1990s to refer to digital communication systems and the Internet telecommunications network. It is associated with United States Senator and later Vice-President Al Gore....
- Information theoryInformation theoryInformation theory is a branch of applied mathematics and electrical engineering involving the quantification of information. Information theory was developed by Claude E. Shannon to find fundamental limits on signal processing operations such as compressing data and on reliably storing and...
- InfornographyInfornographyInfornography is a portmanteau word formed by the combination of the words "information" and "pornography". Infornography is used to define an addiction to or an obsession with acquiring, manipulating, and sharing information...
- InfosphereInfosphereInfosphere is a neologism composed of information and sphere.The first documented use of the word "InfoSphere" was a 1971 Time Magazine book review by R.Z...
- Lexicographic information costLexicographic information costLexicographic information cost is a new concept within the field of lexicography. The term refers to the difficulties and inconveniences that the user of a dictionary believes or feels are associated with consulting a particular dictionary or dictionary article...
- Library scienceLibrary scienceLibrary science is an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary field that applies the practices, perspectives, and tools of management, information technology, education, and other areas to libraries; the collection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information resources; and the...
- Philosophy of informationPhilosophy of informationThe philosophy of information is the area of research that studies conceptual issues arising at the intersection of computer science, information technology, and philosophy.It includes:...
- PredictionPredictionA prediction or forecast is a statement about the way things will happen in the future, often but not always based on experience or knowledge...
- Propaganda modelPropaganda modelThe propaganda model is a conceptual model in political economy advanced by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky that states how propaganda, including systemic biases, function in mass media...
- Quantum informationQuantum informationIn quantum mechanics, quantum information is physical information that is held in the "state" of a quantum system. The most popular unit of quantum information is the qubit, a two-level quantum system...
- Receiver operating characteristicReceiver operating characteristicIn signal detection theory, a receiver operating characteristic , or simply ROC curve, is a graphical plot of the sensitivity, or true positive rate, vs. false positive rate , for a binary classifier system as its discrimination threshold is varied...
- RelevanceRelevance-Introduction:The concept of relevance is studied in many different fields, including cognitive sciences, logic and library and information science. Most fundamentally, however, it is studied in epistemology...
- SatisficingSatisficingSatisficing, a portmanteau "combining satisfy with suffice", is a decision-making strategy that attempts to meet criteria for adequacy, rather than to identify an optimal solution...
- Shannon–Hartley theoremShannon–Hartley theoremIn information theory, the Shannon–Hartley theorem tells the maximum rate at which information can be transmitted over a communications channel of a specified bandwidth in the presence of noise. It is an application of the noisy channel coding theorem to the archetypal case of a continuous-time...
- Alan Liu (2004). The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information, University of Chicago PressUniversity of Chicago PressThe University of Chicago Press is the largest university press in the United States. It is operated by the University of Chicago and publishes a wide variety of academic titles, including The Chicago Manual of Style, dozens of academic journals, including Critical Inquiry, and a wide array of...
- Bekenstein, Jacob D. (2003, August). Information in the holographic universeHolographic principleThe holographic principle is a property of quantum gravity and string theories which states that the description of a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a boundary to the region—preferably a light-like boundary like a gravitational horizon...
. Scientific American.
- Gleick, JamesJames GleickJames Gleick is an American author, journalist, and biographer, whose books explore the cultural ramifications of science and technology...
(2011). The Information: A History, a Theory, a FloodThe Information: A History, a Theory, a FloodThe Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood is a book by science history writer James Gleick, author of Chaos: Making a New Science. It covers the genesis of our current information age. The Information has also been published in ebook formats by Fourth Estate and Random House, and as an...
. Pantheon, New York, NY.
- Shu-Kun Lin (2008). 'Gibbs Paradox and the Concepts of Information, Symmetry, Similarity and Their Relationship', Entropy, 10 (1), 1-5. Available online at Entropy journal website.
- Luciano FloridiLuciano FloridiLuciano Floridi currently holds the Research Chair in philosophy of information and the UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics, both at the University of Hertfordshire, Department of Philosophy...
, (2005). 'Is Information Meaningful Data?', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 70 (2), pp. 351 – 370. Available online at PhilSci Archive
- Luciano Floridi, (2005). 'Semantic Conceptions of Information', The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2005 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.). Available online at Stanford University
- Sandro Nielsen: 'The Effect of Lexicographical Information Costs on Dictionary Making and Use', Lexikos 18/2008, 170-189.
- Stewart, Thomas, (2001). Wealth of Knowledge. Doubleday, New York, NY, 379 p.
- Young, Paul. The Nature of Information (1987). Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport, Ct. ISBN 0-275-92698-2.
- Information Eschatopaedia
- Semantic Conceptions of Information Review by Luciano FloridiLuciano FloridiLuciano Floridi currently holds the Research Chair in philosophy of information and the UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics, both at the University of Hertfordshire, Department of Philosophy...
for the Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyStanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyThe Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a freely-accessible online encyclopedia of philosophy maintained by Stanford University. Each entry is written and maintained by an expert in the field, including professors from over 65 academic institutions worldwide...
- Principia Cybernetica entry on negentropy
- Fisher Information, a New Paradigm for Science: Introduction, Uncertainty principles, Wave equations, Ideas of Escher, Kant, Plato and Wheeler. This essay is continually revised in the light of ongoing research.
- How Much Information? 2003 an attempt to estimate how much new information is created each year (study was produced by faculty and students at the School of Information Management and SystemsUC Berkeley School of InformationThe UC Berkeley School of Information or the iSchool is a graduate school offering both a professional master's degree and a research-oriented Ph.D. degree at the University of California, Berkeley. The school was created in 1994 and was known as the School of Information Management and Systems ...
at the University of California at Berkeley) Informationsordbogen.dk The Danish Dictionary of Information Terms / Informationsordbogen