Radically Inept
Friday, October 22, 2004
  All information is free

This post is sort of a continuance of the posts listed at the end of this post. I hadn't realized how many posts I had done in this 'area'. Now that I've gathered them together, I will try to put them in a grouping over on the side bar.

They are all connected in that they look at the value of information or attempt to define value. They do tend to ramble, and they often repeat specific ideas or overlap, but they are [obviously] reflective of the way I approach this kind of problem. I once heard a line in a movie, TV show or documentary, and I wish I could remember where so I could cite it appropriately, but the line was to the affect, "I am a sloppy thinker". I can think linearly, but some problems require 'sloppy thinking', which I sort of define as continually re-examining the problem from a variety of starting points, and trying to find common threads and/or patterns, and hope they somehow move the dialogue forward toward a 'solution'.

So I am going to start this post with a quote by "Nooper", whose homepage, scratchings, means either that Harry is using yet another alias, or someone is pretending that it's their page. On the otherhand, you should check out the discussion going on in the comments at scratchings: Character assassination is fun!.

The quote:
Value, measured in the narrowest sense, exists only for the individual contemplating it. That's inherently bogus for community creatures like us.

The TV on in the room downstairs is also broadcasting information to others. The man upstairs is missing out and wasting money, but the lack of an audience in one place doesn't diminish the value in others.

'Course, the show could be absolute crap and that creates anti-value. Much like the reverse Midas Touch of Bush the Lesser.
Which was in response to my post, How do we value: value?. I agree with his statement, "Value, measured in the narrowest sense, exists only for the individual contemplating it." And in a way, it makes a good starting point, or continuance, of my ongoing look at information and value.

However, all information is derived from an exchange of energy in the form of electrons/photons. If their is no energy exchanged, whether between individuals and groups, or individuals and their environment, than there is no information. In the case of individuals and groups, the exchange has two sets of values to start with. The value of the information as determined by the sender, and the value placed on the information by the receiver. These values are all filtered through the sender's and receiver's individual information filters. But further, there is often a feedback loop.

The sender sends the information to the receiver, and since it requires the expenditure of energy on the part of the receiver, one can presume that the sender expects/anticipates/desires a response on the part of a particular receiver or group of receivers. Hence, part of the value of the information on the senders part, is the anticipated reaction on the receivers part.

The receiver in return, often filters the incoming information with the knowledge that some sort of energy/information is expected in return on the part of the sender.

And, in the case of a 'dialogue', the loop can have many iterations.

Additionally, it is often the case that the sender expends energy in hopes of receiving a 'greater return' on their expenditure. This greater return would be determined by the sender's [now receiver] own set of 'values'.

I will try this as an example: The Baby Bush administration desires to go to war. They expend energy {the senders} to deliver information to the American populace {the Receivers}. Whether or not the information is true [truth has no greater inherent value than lies], the Baby Bush administration gets America to go to war, cause the death of civilians, and has America assume the costs of the war in terms of American lives and money. The amount of energy that the Baby Bush administration expended in transmitting its information is slight in comparison to the energy they received or were able to elicit. They received huge returns on their minimal investment.

This applies to any marketing campaign. The desire on the sender's part is to receive significant return on their energy investment.

The value of the information must be determined from both sides of the equation. The sender's initial energy output to send the information, and the receiver's output of energy in response to the sender's, and the sender's [now receiver] return.

Both sides, as I stated earlier, have filters. These filters can amplify or retard the flow of energy on both sides of the equation. For instance, my filters are set to start with the premise that anything this administration says, is a lie. Other individuals have their filter set, so that not only do they receive the information, they act upon it - expending far more energy than the administration does in sending it. The problem, form my view point, is that there are either too many positive receivers, or not enough negative information retarders.

Of course, I can expend as much energy in trying to counter the energy put out by the other group. And now we have to consider that in our equation. Multiple individual receivers, each operating from their own filtered view, bring a huge complexity to the receiver's side of the equation. And, the return that the sender's [now receivers] realize.

So, then you get to aggregating it all.

I'm going to change tacts. As you can tell from the number of previous posts I've linked to below, you can rest assured I will come back to this at some point, for greater exploration. But for now...The reason I titled this post "All information is free".

All information and energy is free. Regardless of whether you believe in the 'Big Bang', Inflationary Cosmology, or the myth of a supreme deity, all point to free energy and information.

No one creates energy. We at best can be considered to transmute existing forms of energy into other forms, but even the energy used in the transmutation is free.

For instance, your life is sustained, ultimately, by basic organisms converting energy provided to them by our sun, into energy that is used in life. The sun's energy costs us nothing. Oil already exists, we expend no energy in creating the fuel, we only expend energy on it's extraction and transmutation into a form we determine to be usable.

Why do I bring this up? Well, again, as I have in previous posts, I am trying to get my mind around the idea of how our economy, and especially the capitalistic form, came into being. I have discussed things like how we 'value' entertainment and aesthetics, on a footing equal, or at least apparently equal in some ways, to utilitarian objects that we need for survival. That, and $55 dollar/barrel oil and what that will ultimately do to our economy. I think.

For instance, we are fighting a war to get at something that is 'provided' for free. The oil exists. And its existence costs us nothing. Its use costs us a great deal, especially if one factors in environmental damage. Further, we use this energy, in part, to power neon signs that sell us non-utilitarian and/or 'overpriced' goods. For instance, in my opinion, status branded goods provide no greater utility than non-status branded goods, but far more energy is 'expended' to market these goods.

So, I guess we are back where I started. The senders of information concerning the status branded goods hope to see a greater return on their energy expenditure, and they therefore must discount the 'value' of the energy source, and I guess the war...and the people dying...I guess...

Well, I have other things I must now attend to, but I am left, and I leave you, with this line of questioning - Can we achieve a complex, sustainable economy without energy being used to market products - branded or otherwise? If one starts from the premise that all energy and information is ultimately 'free', how much energy (spent in transmuting free energy) is worth how much entertainment? Can the equation be brought down to Energy = Information = Entertainment = Aesthetics =...And, surely, survival and the survival of the species, should somehow be factored into our equations...

Anyway, below are the previous posts that have led me, if tangentially, to this point of reasoning. And remember, my idea is to get as reductionist as possible, and than to analyze information, value and energy within systemic frameworks. Obviously, I am having a somewhat difficult time, separating the reductionist from the holistic analyses. Sue me...

If a tree falls in the woods...

How do we value: value?

Continuing down the rabbit hole contains some very interesting definitions of value.

Lack of a value free viewpoint

Would Major Nelson play the Lottery?

'Real' Truth questioned

Questions I ponder, and perhaps a little progress

Explaining Everything II

Explaining everything

Wherein I confess my complete ignorance of 'common knowledge' - Or, Maybe you'll bear with me on this one II.

Death, Pain and Atheism

Maybe you'll bear with me on this one

Related posts from Rogue Analyst:

The photon economy, or what is the value of a license plate

Information Metric

A look at some of the costs of secrecy, or Newtonian Secrecy: Analyzing Secrecy in Public Policy Decisions 
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