[Fis] Fwd: whether this useful simulation is information, data or something else?

Christophe Menant christophe.menant at hotmail.fr
Wed Apr 1 14:55:44 CEST 2020

Restent with correct forum address

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Expéditeur: Christophe Menant <christophe.menant at hotmail.fr<mailto:christophe.menant at hotmail.fr>>
Date: 31 mars 2020 à 12:09:13 UTC+2
Destinataire: "annette.grathoff at is4si.org<mailto:annette.grathoff at is4si.org>" <annette.grathoff at is4si.org<mailto:annette.grathoff at is4si.org>>
Cc: Fis <fis-bounces at listas.unizar.es<mailto:fis-bounces at listas.unizar.es>>, Krassimir Markov <markov at foibg.com<mailto:markov at foibg.com>>
Objet: Rép :⁨ [Fis] whether this useful simulation is information, data or something else?⁩

Dear Annette,
Thanks for your answer to the question asked by Krassimir.
What you say implicitly addresses information as agent dependent. An important point, I feel.
Krassimir’s question was also about the differences between information and data, as introduced in his March 26 post (mental models with meaning as information vs mental models without meaning as data). Trying to define information can bring in the need to position it relatively to data, and with it questions about the definition of data, thus making the subject more complex.
These subjects are indeed complex, but perhaps we keep them complex because we don’t take enough into account the different contexts, the audience, where the subjects apply. Perhaps we try to put together things that are too different.
IT meeting participants talk about information as related to data, Shannon, coding and error rate. Biologist relate information to neural signals and chemical transmissions, philosophers consider semantic and syntax, psychologist look at pleasure and reality, an evolutionary approach puts the focus on meaning generation. And so on…
The wordings of our questions can then look as coming from a melting pot containing ideas of Darwin, Bateson, Shannon, Boltzmann, Monod, Prigogine and others. This is very ambitious. Trying to put together the different contexts of a given concept may just be too ambitious for some concepts (think about politics, happiness, religion, ….).
When trying to define information perhaps we should take some more time to address the contexts, the different domains, and then try some domain related definitions. The next step being to see how these definitions can be part of a possible synergy.
That idea is not new. Perhaps this has been addressed in the paper of 2018 Journal of Documentation you refer to (I didn’t succeed accessing it. Could you tell how to do?).
All the best

De : Fis <fis-bounces at listas.unizar.es<mailto:fis-bounces at listas.unizar.es>> de la part de annette.grathoff at is4si.org<mailto:annette.grathoff at is4si.org> <annette.grathoff at is4si.org<mailto:annette.grathoff at is4si.org>>
Envoyé : lundi 30 mars 2020 17:45
À : markov at foibg.com<mailto:markov at foibg.com> <markov at foibg.com<mailto:markov at foibg.com>>; fis at listas.unizar.es<mailto:fis at listas.unizar.es> <fis at listas.unizar.es<mailto:fis at listas.unizar.es>>
Objet : Re: [Fis] whether this useful simulation is information, data or something else?

Dear Krassimir,

a very profound question. As you address me as Annette, not as GS, I would like to answer telling my personal opinion. I deem the subject "information study" as largely incomplete and thus cannot really give a profound answer to your question based on what I gathered - which is nicely collected in https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-05-2017-0077<https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fdoi.org%2F10.1108%2FJD-05-2017-0077&data=02%7C01%7C%7Ca06cbaea114d4a3344c108d7d4c18110%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637211799863438379&sdata=iFuKashZ2K8lbhCiac80RqoJKkXY2GWpT0fWctvb4%2FU%3D&reserved=0> (Rocchi, P., Resca, A. The creativity of authors in defining the concept of information, Journal of Documentation, 2018 74; 1074-1103) yet.

I am helping myself by basing the concept of information on the physical basis which I experienced as useful, namely information being something which is stored and which influences selective regimes. Seeing this in an evolutionary context, i.e. based on starting with what science describes a s purely physical... continuing over kinetics and dynamics which science describes as physical-chemical where molecules and chemical regimes act on selection regimes... over the selective mechanisms which Biology knows as Natural selection, niche construction and community pre-cultures... arriving at our human and largely intention based decision making evaluation and judging regimes (keeping in mind the recursivity of the nested selective regimes), I would reason the following estimation:

A simulation like the one which Sanderson generated is personal information for the receiver if the receiving (watching) person sees the video in a context where attention is high and expectation is neither too high nor as low as changing into certainty that the video is pure noise. Only then is it possible that some of the contents are stored in the memory and are capable of influencing the selective (intentional) decision making behavior of the receiver. Interestingly, if attention is expecting negative confirmation - in the example that the video will not be informative (e.g. because a colleague said that Sanderson made a video with false contents or one found that Sanderson used silly inappropriate colors when watching a previous video) - then the outcome can be very strongly dependent on initial conditions under which the video is watched. If the expectation for negative confirmation is disappointed, e.g. because the receiver sees that Sanderson hit the mark explaining with the simulation what one has read and understood as important just hours ago and one is amazed about how strong the contrast to the (negative) expectation is, the correction of negative expectation can make the informative event (according to Bateson/ Koestler and others: a kind of physically based change of mindset) even stronger. In this context it would be helpful if I was a psychologist with neurological knowledge. From psychology I remember the interesting concept of cognitive dissonance...just to imagine how much of general knowledge in addition to knowledge on initial conditions would be necessary to estimate the informative effect of data based messages on a human individuals.

A simulation like the one which Sanderson generated is definitely and independently from context, information, namely  IT information, since it is the outcome of technical information processing and reached the PC of the receiver by making a physical difference in the PC´s memory state (switching data represented by a collection of magnetized particles on spinning platters).

For an animal like a dog, the video will not be personal information for the simple reason that its attention level is not activated by this type of information coming from intentional decision making regimes.The attention threshold of the dog is surmounted by fitting olfactory or acoustic and optical signals which proved important for survival (Biological selective regime) and well being in it´s pet environment (Biological+coevolutionary human Cultural selective regime) for the dog. The acoustic and visual signals which a dog could receive from a PC in its keeper´s flat which is playing Sanderson´s video could in best case attract the attention for a span of seconds when the animal confounds the sound or color structure from the machine as something of relevance for its bodily states (like hunger or expectation of signals from the keeper) but unless there has been conditioning on some of the possible signals, this attention will not last long. The dog will not stay with "understanding" the signals as referential to itself.

So from this perspective, many many things of our daily lives I deem information; whether the information is physical, physico chemical, biological or intentional in its dynamics (or carries characteristica of any of the selective regimes that preceded its first appearance. A chain of selective influences which often leads down to the physical selective regime of "forces and entropy growth" (to cut a long story short)) is dependent on the complexity of the structure communicating the information and the selective regime evaluating it; It is dependent on the structures´ evolutionary (including cultural evolution) history. The development of entirely new forms of information (storage and signal transmission) as well as new forms of information dynamics (just think of the handy "undo" function of your programs. Unthinkable in this form in all of nature´s preceding selective environments!) is also possible, based on the selective environments which are developing within and around them.

Kind regards,


Krassimir Markov wrote on 30.03.2020 14:11 (GMT +02:00):

Dear Annette and FIS Colleagues,

The following question I had sent to Gordana offline due to the FIS limit of number of posts per week.
I see it is still actual, so I resend it now.

In line with the FIS discussion, I would kindly ask you to tell, in your view, whether this useful simulation is information, data or something else?

Be healthy and in good spirit!
Friendly greetings

From: annette.grathoff at is4si.org<mailto:annette.grathoff at is4si.org>
Sent: Monday, March 30, 2020 12:46 PM
To: gordana.dodig-crnkovic at mdh.se<mailto:gordana.dodig-crnkovic at mdh.se> ; fis at listas.unizar.es<mailto:fis at listas.unizar.es>
Subject: Re: [Fis] Excellent simulation

Dear colleagues,

Grant Sanderson (3blue1brown) did it again. Please do not tell me you never heard of him and his excellent YouTube science-knowledge visualization videos! He changed the interest of thousands of people for abstract mathematical ideas, making them concrete and more tangible by his excellent simulation videos. He originally came from the Khan Academy team as you can read here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3Blue1Brown<https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2F3Blue1Brown&data=02%7C01%7C%7Ca06cbaea114d4a3344c108d7d4c18110%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637211799863448415&sdata=DoDdMaM8P7Y%2BnY8yhQxoo4Dw6OzyEQIo1zdvKVauYTY%3D&reserved=0>.

This I say as Annette Grathoff, not as the General secretary: My personal opinion is that every scientist interested in informing curious people and raising interest in scientific knowledge should know his videos. This is how information about important concepts is enabled to spread many times faster than when relying solely on the classical ways. It does science well to spread channels like his, after you (not only) scientifically approved of the content.

Best wishes and stay healthy,


Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic wrote on 29.03.2020 12:17 (GMT +02:00):

Dear colleagues,

Please have a look at this excellent simulation:


which makes me think about how powerful thinking tools
that computation and information/data really offer.

Stay safe and take care,


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