Information as “Force”

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Thinking Tools / Information / Macroinformation / Views
@ K. 2002 06 15

Some information is compelling. It exerts a force as it were. I call such information macroinformation and my theory of Macroinformation offers an explanation: the way atomic theory can “explain” why the mere matter that Marie Curie extracted from pitchblende glowed.

Not all information is forceful. Mere data exerts no pressure at all. My Theory of Macroinformation generates distinctions within the set of information, honoring the distinction already existing between data and meta-data but adding the further distinction of macroinformation. For example, sounds can be organized as phonemes. Phonemes can be organized as words. Words can be organized as language. When the language rhymes and has rhythm new forces can be generated. When sounds are organized by rhythm and pitch, we call it music. When one kid chants a taunt at another


there is a force compelling the completion of the second repetition. Leonard Bernstein observed that the taunt might be played G E, G E and that the GE iteration should be supported finally with a brace of Cs one and two octaves below: it’s a C chord!

(It’s a C chord if the first Nyah is chanted as a G. If A, it’s a D chord. And so forth.)

The observation that the chant invokes a chord with the tonic unstated is satisfyingly like an explanation. It relates our experience of the taunt to the theory of music. But does music theory really explain how it’s so? My theory of Macroinformation does. Macroinformation would explain all of art: explain it as information of a certain range of structures, evoking a hitherto unexplored “chemistry.” I use that latter metaphor advisedly. I intend to establish a science of information akin to molecular chemistry: Shakespeare’s phrase “my salad days” is as distinct from “four pairs of black socks” as a benzene ring is from an unorganized couple of carbon atoms. Indeed, “when I was green in judgement, cold in blood” is as distinct from “handkerchiefs and underwear” as a shark is from so much cellulose. Like the shark, Shakespeare’s phrase is a stack of synergies. Like the shark, Shakespeare’s phrase can swallow you. And it’s not data that’s doing it. It’s information. Macroinformation.

Here this file, from around June of 2002, linked to the previous introduction of April 2002:
(link to be reestablished after move)
Blonds or Redheads

I next noted that: the “force” of macroinformation is an informational “force”: it is not physical. Like the “sound” that Bishop Berkeley’s tree fails to make falling in an unpopulated forest, the forces are felt only by sentiences capable of conscious manipulations of information. Berkeley’s unpopulated forest would feel no compulsion to resolve the chord in the kid’s taunting chant.

Would a dolphin? Would a dog? That too will be gone into below.

Note also that I make no claim to be able to develop this science single-handedly. I need comprehending readers. I need feedback. I need collaboration: particularly with mathematicians: with anyone who can bring the skills I lack for building a few simple macroinformational models.

If I could so much as assemble a tensegrity sphere before your eyes with nothing but a few rods for compression and bits of wire for tension, I could materially show you synergistic forces at work. Then I could perhaps earn some recognition that informational forces are analogous. If I can’t yet build a physical model of a macroinformational synergy, that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t.

Today, 2002 11 10, after posting a new set for the Introduction and early sections, I wish to introduce a different type of example of information as force: one I draw from personal experience, but still one the reader should be able to find her own examples of.

My surname is Knatz. I know from ample experience that people commonly have difficulty with either the spelling, the pronunciation, or both. When asked my name by a clerk whose task it is to fill out a form that requires my name, I have a stock way of responding that greatly reduces time wasted by misunderstanding. I answer as though in 6/8 time:

K (beat) (beat) n (beat) (beat) a t z

Some people (though not many clerks) get it immediately. And some, especially those who I guess come from non-Germanic (especially if relatively un-educated) backgrounds, won’t get it even after two repetitions. “K – a – n …” they write … “What?”

It’s as though there’s a “force” preventing them (non-Germanic speakers) from juxtaposing a k with an n.

don’t misunderstand. I am not mocking these persons for stupidity; I’m making a point about mental habit. Mental habit can form something akin to a “force.” If a “q” is always followed by a “u” in English, those not drilled in patterns other than English will have a hard time learning to write Chinese transliterations: Q’ing. If the “q” in a certain basketball giant’s nickname didn’t end the word Shaq, sports publishers would have to reset a lot of type: or they’d find a different nickname for him.


My father’s grandfather had come to the United States from Germany. “Kn” combinations and “z”s are common in German. English is a Germanic language. English has “kn” combinations too: typically from the Anglo-Saxon, but in English the “k” has fallen silent. Chaucer pronounced both the K and the n in his Knight’s Tale: /knixts
tal6/. (ASCII is not adequate to the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). Read the /6/ — by SAMPA practice — as a schwa: an unaccented vowel formed in the relaxed middle of the mouth: “tal-uh.” For “knight,” we say /nait/ the same as when we say “night.”

Speakers of “English” in the United States mix a great number of types: people whose ancestors spoke English, people whose ancestors spoke some other Germanic language from Yiddish to Dutch, people whose ancestors spoke Romance languages from Spanish to Italian, people who ancestors spoke languages neither Germanic nor Romance, people whose ancestors spoke languages not even Indo-European, and (highly significantly) people whose ancestral languages were forcibly destroyed in them: slaves can’t rebel if they can’t communicate.

I’ll continue this ASAP. (The area that now screams for investigation is our concept of “suspense.” Again, information and/or missing information, incomplete information, is felt as a kind of force.)

Thinking Tools Information, Macroinformation Menu Mi Views

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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