Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

IA, Design and What is Information?

Over at Bokardo, a recent article about infoprefixation got me to thinking about an old problem. But rather than rehash old arguments, I’d just assume start with the basics of understanding information, since so much misunderstanding seems to occur at that level.

Information = Data + Context

There has been an ongoing misconception for a while now that information is something that can exist on its own without interpretation. But one man’s information is just another man’s data. Without the context portion involved in the above equation, namely the human perception and understanding, there is no information, only noise.

Consider a very simple example: a list of phone numbers. Some people would call that information. I would say that without the associated names, it it not information. And I would add that it is a designer’s job to make that name-number association useful by putting in alphabetical order (or whatever order the user would like).

There are is tons and tons of data in the world. Most of it is going to waste because it isn’t being transformed into information. if you don’t believe me, look at what Hans Rosling accomplished with the right data and intelligent design.

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