Metainformation scrapbook

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Thinking Tools / Information / Macroinformation / Views
@ K. 1999 02

I repeat bkMarcus’s articulation of the orthogonal ordering of information
(link to be reestablished after move):

Information is any difference that makes a difference.

First-order differences establish data.

Data about that first-order data is second-order (or meta-) data.

Information about that metadata is itself metadata, though of a higher order.

We can keep nesting:

metadata0 (first-order data)
metadata1
metadata2
metadata3

Any information about metadata[N] yields metadata[N+1].

We just progress up the N axis.

But the DIFFERENCE between metadata[N] and metadata[N+1] MAKES A DIFFERENCE. There is a new order of information — and it belongs outside the N axis, because it is not ABOUT any particular level of metadata: it is about the difference between the different levels of metadata.

We can put it on an X-axis, orthogonal to the original axis of logical levels.

This new axis is the macroinformational axis.

This 2001 11 26 I am in the midst of salvaging old files on the subject, but have to insert a point I don’t believe I’ve yet made adequately in the old or new files. The possibility of discernment, the possibility of perceiving contrast, the difference between background and foreground, black and white, zero and one … makes information possible. The distinction between a zero and a one makes data: a first order difference. Information about that information , meta-data, makes meta-data. XML tags within HTML tags yields metadata[N+1] as above, but remains on bk’s N axis. For the past couple of years I have been using the term meta-information for the new order of information beyond meta-data but the examples I’ve been amassing are advanced forms of meta-information which I’ve termed macroinformation. Today I must pick up a strand I dropped a few months back: wrongly dropped I now believe. Captain Renault’s words about being shocked to find gambling at Rick’s are contradicted by Captain Renault accepting his night’s roulette winnings from Rick’s. The discrepancy generates meta-information at the macroinformation level which we have termed anything from irony to hypocrisy depending on our orientation at the time of speaking. That observation skips over a meta-informational step long familiar even to those of us who’ve never heard of irony or hypocrisy.

Meta-information is not about any particular level of metadata but rather generates from differences among the differences. One huge universe of meta-information that must exist before we can hope to ascend in complexity to the macroinformation of irony or hypocrisy is with us before we come to adult consciousness of any sort of macroinformation, and I exclude it from my term. It is so much our environment that it is very hard to be aware of it. I speak of course of language and grammar.

When I return I’ll go into at least brief initial detail on

  1. How language is possible because of differences such as that between subject and predicate …
  2. How lesser differences such as those between noun and verb make this universe extremely complex long before the differences that art can add come into play

2001 04 22 I plan to develop my concept of meta-information as chapter three, meta-information being my Third Order of Information. Many of the points for the first four chapters and some points for additional chapters are already here, distributed among the existing files from before the present structure was planned. One point for chapter three I must now jot while I remember it’s identity and relevance.

The Preface glosses over meta-information only briefly, anxious to get to my main point: Macroinformation and the Fourth Order of Information. But meta-information is itself a huge topic, deserving volumes of its own. Yet meta-information, once we see that it’s largely equivalent to things we already know a fair amount about under other headings … structure, grammar, language … will have to take a back seat till the informational phenomenon we know vaguely as “art,” as depth of meaning, is brought clearly to our consciousness as information.

Meta-information emerges from the structure of the information. Accumulations of data and combinations of data, patterns in the data, are not of the same logical level.


I jot a side point while I think of it. Where structure is prevented or perverted, the meta-information cannot be revealed. If convention burns a heretic before the heresy can be articulated, then we have to accept (or reject) that the heresy was in fact as advertised: there can be no examination: evidence having been stymied.

If one visits a construction site, lumber may be stacked here, concrete blocks there. If one attacks the workers as they carry beams to designated places, destroying any possibility of work taking place, the beams and blocks may all remain undestroyed, but also remain un-assembled. The same is true of “data.” A lawyer interrupting a witness, a church burning a heretic, can save a jury or a congregation from contemplating certain arguments: the argument never gets made. The words or their potential may all still remain (the data does not have to be destroyed), but their assemblage remains un-assembled.

A culture that always attacks construction sites can live and die without ever learning what a building is.

The sabotage of meta-information is macroinformation! The fostering of meta-information is likewise macroinformation. The structure is third order information. Programs about structure are at least one order of abstraction “higher.”


I shall un-hide some abbreviated notes to be added somewhere:

in backgammon, when and under what circumstances, in what position you roll the 6/6 or the 2/1 make all the difference: meta-difference

if we’re talking about 3D we can only be doing so in (minimum)4D. Talk about meta-information is already macroinformation. Talk about macroinformation is macroinformation


2005 12 26

We’re all familiar with length going one way and width going perpendicular to it. We all know the difference between the horizon and the zenith. Space having more than one dimension we live with daily, are comfortable with it. But talk about logical meta-levels and you lose 99% of everybody: without their knowing it.

To follow what I’m talking about with respect to complex information, the reader must follow at least part way into informational dimensions. One must be able to think to some extent about logical orthogonality. I can define myself blue in the face and still have no students with me.

AC, DC

I just thought of another metaphor. Maybe this one will work:

An electron has a negative charge. An atom has at least one electron. An ion will have an extra electron; or be missing at least one.

Electricity involves electrons moving from an area of greater electrical potential to one of lesser electrical potential. If the cloud has rubbed off a lot of extra electrons, and the tree has had some rubbed from it, a lightning bolt takes a step toward restoring balance. Electrons flow from the cloud to the tree, to the ground, to the lightning rod, to the unlucky golfer … always along some medium: the air, a copper wire, a steel rod, your flesh.

Since Faraday, we’ve controlled electricity to a startling extent. First we had devices to built up electrical potential: a battery, rubbing a comb on your shirt … Then, zap. You touch the comb, and a spark jumps: electrons jumping, very fast, from A to B, from C to T.

Early electrical devices were all DC: direct current. The electrons flowed from you, after rubbing your feet on the carpet, to whoever you’re playing your joke on. Zap. The electrons flow from the battery into your electrical device.

The idea of electrical current came before the idea of electrons, and the pole receiving the electrons unfortunately came to be named the positive pole. Now with atomic theory, we have to think backwards when it comes to electricity.

Eventually Steinmetz made the impossible math yield to his genius and GE mastered alternating current. These days devices are powered mostly by electricity flowing back and forth, very rapidly: much more efficient.

Now: modeling this may afford understanding:

The switch is either On or Off. In the buzzer the switch switches very rapidly. With AC, at any given moment the current is one way, but a nanosecond later, it’s the other way.

But I doubt that sentient electrons would think, We’re going back and forth. At any given moment, they’d by thinking, I must go left. A moment later they’d be thinking, I must go right.

Seeing, The electrons are going back and forth, takes a meta-level of awareness. Mapping it requires a meta-level of mapping.

The META-ness of things
John Quintero

The electrons can’t do it. But a given philosopher may be able to: to some extent.

Human affairs are full of paradox, contradiction … multi-potential.

Faced with a crisis we think, I’d better fight. No, I’d better run. But once we trigger one way of the other, then we’re fighting, not running; or running, not fighting.

The girl sees the guy. She knows what she wants, but first she’d better get him to marry her. She’s revolted by what she wants, revolted by what he wants, but she sure does want it. Then, they’re getting married, not divorced; then, they’re getting divorced, not married.

Seeing the meta pattern is different from running one way or the other.

Cleopatra says her love for Caesar was in her salad days. So which is it: salad? or days? Who is it: Caesar? or Antony? The effect is a buzzer, that doesn’t shut off. Alternating current: more efficient, more powerful.


2006 08 10

I read in here some scribble I can’t yet concentrate on developing.

Shelley’s Ozymandias imagines a contemporary visiting desert and finding statuary fragments together with an inscription, King of Kings. Now there’s nothing but sand and this bit of rubble. but it suggests a long-past civilization, rooted in this spot. Planet of the Apes ends with a parallel image: a future wasteland with part of the Statue of Liberty sticking up from some rubble. Ah this was once New York City, now there’s little more left than there was for Ozymandias. The information for Ozymandias’ empire is implicit in the mind of the person hearing Shelley’s poem provided he knows a little history, realizes that the earth, that civilization has a past, and realizes by extension that the present may have a future no more glorious than a ruin. Indeed how many kings of kings leave not even a pair of stone ankles and a chiseled message after a millennium or two?

h, w, l are local; time is infinite. there was a time, may again be a time when this local h-w-l will not exist. Perhaps there will be no evidence that it ever existed. Perhaps there will be no consciousness to worry whether or not anything ever existed.

An ant finds a pebble. Who knows what past that pebble had? or what future? An innocuous move on this chess board could support check mate of the next move on some meta chess board, or could itself BE checkmate.

Now: consciousness: we are intelligent, conscious, sentient … I won’t argue: unless we start taking the observations too seriously, unless we start acting as though they were absolute, complete, not local.

Bad Meta Data
2017 04 27 email to bk

speaking of bad metadata
Mistaking Robert Wright for Robin Wright is an inevitable typo because the actress Robin Wright has been semi famous for a long time: also, there IS a Robin Wright author … etc.
whereas Robert Wright of the Evolution of God is relatively a newcomer
and the gooks handling the metadata at Calibre are bound to be grad school part timers, pot head illiterates …

I’ve been enjoying infinite-seeming streams of bad metadata from a specific and lkely source: the subtitles at YouTube!

There will be a big budget for proofreading if Billy Graham decides to publish bibles: there would be a considerable budget for proofing subtitles for Star Wars II, III, IV … X Y Z …

but nearly no budget for proofing puns the Cockney actor makes in a Michael Caine doc.

There will always be someone eminently qualified, available for cheap, but who is absent from all headhunters lists: there will always be a Me.
and records may always be left of what the Nazis did to the Jews, but they won’t be left by the Nazis.

Thinking Tools Information, Macroinformation Menu Mi Views
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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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