reply to Read

Mon, 11 Apr 1994 17:40:03 CDT

I appreciate your effort and--heaven help me--your clarity in your response to
Danny Yee's critique. I have one problem with your interpretation--the same
one I had with the original from which Danny quotes. You state your
interpretation of "kinetic longitude" as follows.

...the size of the packet of information can be measured in terms of kinetics
with the non-sense (noise) portion used as a yardstick.

The problem I have with this is the same one I had in the original post.
Kinetics has to do with objects in motion, objects with real and measureable
dimensions. Its mathematics are, roughly, those of addition and subtraction.
Information, however, is a quantity that has no dimensions, and it is derived
from dimensionless quantities. Information is not a thing or an event--it is
property of things and events. Specifically, information is the probability
that a thing or event will occur. Its mathematics is that of division and
multiplication. It is a ratio, as is any probability. One does not measure
information with kinetics. The matter is further complicated when you toss in
meaning and non-meaning, since information (in the formal sense of the negative
of entropy) has nothing to do with meaning. If you are talking about info
in the more ordinary sense of knowledge that people (think they) have, then
meaning and non-meaning may have relevance. But this is a very different
discourse than that of information and noise (which refers not to non-meaning,
but to random, non-redundant, non-patterned signals). The problem I had with
the original post, specifically with kinetic longitude stuff and its analogy
with DNA was that it was impossible to tell which meaning of information was
meant. Its contrast with noise implied -log to the base 2 of P, while its
coupling with meaning/non-meaning appeared to refer to information in its
ordinary language use. These are not compatible. Information measurement is
pretty well known, if not well worn at this point, and kinetics has nothing to
do with it. It seemed to me that information and noise become metaphors in the
most ambiguous possible way. It may be wonderful art--and I am definitely not
competent to judge that one way or another--but it doesn't tell us much we need
to know about information networks as systems or about biology. I suspect that
is what bothers Danny as well.