Re: virus: Re: sociological change
Wed, 15 Jan 1997 12:49:53 -0600 (CST)

On Mon, 30 Dec 1996, Alex Williams wrote:


> > I don't do anything that isn't a reaction to what I recognize. But I
> > recognize things that are invisible and imaginary and abstract-- like
> > democracy, what I think someone else thinks of me and what I think other
> > people are thinking even though I have never met them or even seen them.
> > I recognize these and react to them.
> My cat hisses at empty corners of the room, occasionally. We don't
> have discussions about democracy, however, because his memetic
> structures are really too alien to comprehend something so rooted in
> human common experience (or is it? We still have major disputes when
> discussing issues of democracy and other intangibles, don't we?). I
> don't know if my cat has such complex intangible ideas in his head; he
> probably doesn't since his culture has never had need for them, but
> what would I understand them with if we could communicate them?

> > Information is a technology spawned by bhaviour. Cars are made of metal
> > but metalurgists don't necessarily study cars.
> Information isn't technology. Information exists in the world with or
> without behaviour. Cars are made of metal and metalurgists don't
> study cars but car designers study metallurgy. In 1000yrs,
> metallurgists may very well study cars just as geologists today study
> Roman concrete.


*Data* exists in the world with or without behavior.

*Information* requires mental [sic] modeling of some kind; that
definitely *is* a technology. For instance [CIS/Math], using Gaussian
elimination to compute the determinant of a matrix is a vast
information-technological improvement over computing the determinant by
the definition [O(n^3) instead of O(n!)]. And the determinant is itself
a piece of information describing how the volume [with orientation] is
scaled by the underlying linear map [this is why it is independent of

Another example [more specifically from CIS] is a recursive algorithm for
computing a matrix product that is O(n^2.78) [roughly], instead of O(n^3)
[by the definition]. [I don't recall the exact discoverer: it was ~1968,
and is usually considered highly unintuitive.]

/ Towards the conversion of data into information....
/ Kenneth Boyd