Media, Information and Technoculture 2200F/G Lecture Notes - Alien Language, Chinese Whispers, Mind Map
DepartmentMedia, Information and Technoculture
Course CodeMIT 2200F/G
Lecture 1 January 4, 2011
Introduction, Information and Data
-Information is everything
-email, weather network, brain signals, syllabus, etc.
-Retailers use information to persuade you. Credit cards are information condensed
-Temperature is information. Thermostats regulate the temperature of a room based on the
Information is Not:
-Knowledge (is organized use of info, not info)
-However information involves all of these
-Organizational Problems are Problems with Information
-Why are encyclopedias organized alphabetically instead of by topic or by colour?
-World is governed by information and organizational strategies
-Total information= 0. If you had all the information in the world you would have nothing.
-Info. has value only when it’s circulated. So information is everything and nothing at the same
-What does the internet fundamentally mean? Not it’s function. Hard question, like asking what
is the meaning of life...
-Public information is tended by many intermediaries (soldier-general-writer-boss-editor-
-Willful modifications include selective additions and omissions, censorship,
-misinterpreting data = accidental modifications
-Credible information of weapons in Iraq led to 2003 invasion. People didn’t question it as
being unreliable info.
Information is Patterning
-Further step in development of info. theory
-Through use of patterns info can be more predictable/useful.
-Part is fair representation of whole - how statistical data is calculated.
-Nation voting odds - sample of people, not everyone.
-Triangle with info, organization, control on the corners.
-All are interconnected.
-We can speak of information as reality (footprint in snow), for reality (instruction manual), or
about reality (LTC Bus Schedule)
-Always has something to do with ‘reality’
-Information must contain data.
-Data must be structured.
-Structured Data must have meaning.
-Data is bits and bobs that haven’t been structured yet, they then have no meaning yet.
-Syntax: how data is put together in some sort of sequence. But still doesn’t give meaning.
Lecture 1 January 4, 2011
-eg. something written in an alien language would have no meaning for us because we don’t
understand the language. It would have meaning for the people who could understand it.
The Library of Babel
-Library is potentially infinite
-composed of interlocking hexagons, each hexagon has 4 blahblah... anyways the number of
books in the library is 25x10 to the power of 1.32 million
-Data = Something that is distinct from something else.Something unique against something
uniform (a speck on a white background would be data)
-Duck Duck Goose = break in the monotony “goose” is data, before that it is just nothingness
“duck, duck, duck...”
-Data gives you the ability to perform an action.
-Silence/Absence is Data.
-When your phone won’t turn on, that is data because it gives you the information that
your phone is dead.
-Still have to derive meaning from it.
-Data comes in analog, digital, binary. They are all primary, secondary, meta, operational,
-Analog: continuous, single purpose, operates in real time. Analog machines store info that is
proportional to the real world
-chain, camera with film
-Traditional clock has gears/wheels ... gaged to move at intervals (analog). Your body needs
food, desk lamp has laws of electricity
-0 Processing Time. Doesn’t need to process any data to work
-Sundial, record player, book, etc.
-coded, needs to be decoded
-mp3 player, cell phone
-are our own bodies digital? we would get updates on the status of our vitamin levels etc., -
-features of our bodies that seem digital: brain, retrieval audio system, memories
-we encode info through thinking and abstraction.
-Nerves are Digital and Analog. When we’re cold, info travels to brain and we shiver to hear up.
-If you had to wait for the brain to kick in when you touch something hot you’d get
burned. In moments of pain info only needs to travel to spine.
-Bit is smallest unit of info (8bits = 1 byte)
-Encoded, interpreted, displayed
-implies set of only 2 choices (yes/no)
-1 = yes, 0 = no
-“Either you’re with us or you’re against us” there’s no middle ground, no gray areas
Lecture 1 January 4, 2011
-Light switch is binary. Either on or off, not in between.
Our thoughts are rarely binary but if they were it would be something like this: In the morning,
do you decide to wake up (Yes = 1, No = 0). If yes, you then have coffee. If no, you keep sleeping.
stored in database, raw or pure data. Hasn’t yet been interpreted. Doesn’t mean anything until we
can interpret it.
312 dentists agree our toothpaste is best.
absence of information is seen as information
(out of 18 000 dentists polled)
meaningful after interpreted
Data about data
looking up a book at weldon gives you info about the book that isn’t even in the book
itself (location of it in the library)
tagging on internet to find/organize info (photos)
helps drive us to relevant content
taking notes/highlighting is metadata because it assigns a greater importance of one word over
dynamic data that tells us about system
cell phone low battery signal, virus detection on laptops, passing out from low blood
data derived/inferred from source data
given data: “ZOMG! CUL8R”
What we know from this:
sent from cellphone/msn
how fossils are found/dated.
eg. animal tracks, tree rings, cloud movements, ocean currents
(see attached mindmap file)
What doesn’t qualify as fact?
opinion, belief, experience
they can’t be substantiated objectively through empirical testing