Replying to LO26110
Where Malcolm wrote:
>Michael, I'm intrigued and a little disturbed by your assertion. Do you
>mean to suggest that whatever "information" may be, its _only_ value lies
>in its capacity to reduce uncertainty so we can make decision?
> To me, this would suggest that information that charms, amuses,
>unsettles, creates awe...well, you can see where I'm going... Would we
>say, in other words, that information is valuable only for its immediate
>utility? what, then, of the "information" created about the beauty of
>the universe I obtain from a Bach unaccompanied sonata?
> Or have I misunderstood you?
Well, you've raised an interesting point. As I wrote the note I was
thinking of the context of 'learning orgnaizations' and 'work', and the
world of information systems, more specifically. In that context I
believe my comments still hold -- what I want at work is more information
and less noise. (By the way, I don't think anyone can give me something
'higher' than information. That is, someone can help me create my own
knowledge, but can't give me knowledge. But that's another topic ...
Now, turning to the subject of being charmed or amused or awed by
'information.' Hmmm. Several thoughts percolate around at once ...
+ Maybe I could adjust what I said along these lines: If something in the
Bach sonata makes me decide to continue to listen, then I suppose that's
information. I'm deciding how to spend my time. Alas, that somehow that
seems to stretch things a bit too far.
+ Maybe we are using 'information' in two very different ways, one more
'thoughtful' (cerebral?) and the other more 'heartfelt' (emotional?). So
my mind could be informed one way (e.g. the outdoor temperature in the
flight attendant example) and my heart informed another way (e.g. the
smile of the person delivering the message).
+ Maybe the concept of information needs to be 'reserved' for utilitarian
situations, and we need to settle on some other term for something that
causes amusement or awe. Maybe information causes / enables you to -do-
something, while this other thing causes / enables you to -feel-
something. That is, I -feel- charmed or amused or awed rather than ...
some different consequence than what I see from becoming informed. This
brings information into the world of action or behavior and out of the
world of feelings or sensations. Is that useful? Does it feel right?
+ Maybe not all communications can be / ought to be evaluated on the
noise/data/information/knowledge continuum. Maybe it depends somehow on
why the message was sent, or how the message was received. And maybe a
mismatch between those two leads to mis-communication. Maybe she meant
the smile one way, and you who saw it interpreted it another way. Maybe
she meant to convey a feeling of pleasure and you interpreted it as
'information' and that caused you to decide to do something.
+ Maybe I'm over-intellectualizing the whole thing.
I -do- think it's important to distinguish between information and
non-information using that noise/knowledge continuum. Again in the work
setting specifically, but perhaps even in the family setting where
decisions are in order -- if I want to 'help' someone do something, I need
to know what kinds of decisions that person faces, with the implication
that my knowing that will determine what I have that might qualify as
information for the other person.
Thanks for the note! You've caused me to look more carefully at this
issue of information.
- Michael Ayers
Mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org Voice (651) 733-5690) FAX (651) 737-7718
IT Prof.Dev. 3M Center 224-2NE-02 PO Box 33224 St. Paul MN 55133-3224
Sometimes the right question is, 'Are we asking the right question?'
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