Monday, April 06, 2009

Information or what?

For some strange reason I was looking up the etymology of the word “Information”. It surprised me. Let’s quote Wikipedia: 

“ The English word was apparently derived by adding the common "noun of action" ending "-ation" to the earlier verb to ‘inform’, in the sense of to give form to the mind, to discipline, instruct, teach. ‘Inform’ itself comes (via French) from the Latin verb ‘informare’, to give form to, to form an idea of. Furthermore, Latin itself already even contained the word ‘information’ meaning concept or idea, but the extent to which this may have influenced the development of the word information in English is unclear.

As a final note, the ancient Greek word for form was ‘eidos’, and this word was famously used in a technical philosophical sense by Plato (and later Aristotle) to denote the ideal identity or essence of something. ‘Eidos’ can also be associated with thought, proposition or even concept.” 

“Information = Giving form to the mind, to discipline, instruct, teach.” It seems that our daily usage and understanding of the word “Information” likes to forget that “Information” has a strong sense of personal subjectivity. It implies a conscious act of the mind that transforms a piece of observed data into something that we call “Information”. 

Be aware of the traveling distance between data and information. It’s much longer, tedious, and dangerous than most of us believe.


Anonymous scott johnson said...

T.S. Eliot's continuum: Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom.

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