Philosphy of Information: Value

Discussion in 'Lounge' started by Star Guitar, Apr 2, 2004.

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  1. Star Guitar

    Star Guitar I hate Phil Collins

    Philosphy of Digital Information: Value

    I wanted to get some feedback on something that came to mind some time ago. I have a few questions, but I'll stick with just this one first.

    Most of us share files by one means or another. We all do what we do for different reasons. However, all the data we share, no matter how big or important or funny or complicated or whatever, is fundamentally little more than a complication of zeroes and ones. It can be copied a billion times over, and exist in a billion places at the same time. We spend time and money collecting it, storing it, cataloging it, and as a matter of fact, I think it is safe to say that humanity as a whole has built an entire culture and economy out of information and data. A society defined by numbers.

    My question is: What makes digital information valuable?

    Is the value of information in the actual content of the data? Is the value in its original scarcity? Does the value of information come from the fact that the things we share are simply things we like? Is it in the way that information is used?

    (I use value in a broad sense. It could mean a spiritual value, an economic value, a personal value, as well as others; surely they may all make some sense. Feel free to adjust and clarify as needed.)

    I have my opinions, but I'm curious as to yours.

    ~Star Guitar
  2. Omyn

    Omyn Member

    My question is: What makes digital information valuable?

    I would say your ability to use it, sure everything we have that exists in computers is basically billions trillions ones and zeros, but it is your ability to use it.

    Sure 1010101010111100001101010100100010001010101 might be a copyrighted part of information you can decode into basic computer language and use, but in its plain form you simply have no use for it. Not to mention in data form it probably exists in thousands of pieces of copyrighted works.

    I dont quite know though, I feel art should be shared with the world for everyone to benifit.

    Which is probably going to bring up tons of flames but I dont care, it is by my definition of basic art not some extreme definition of it. (such as architectural, culinary, a network you created and were paid money to implement the design)
  3. begoodbebad

    begoodbebad sleeping pygmy

    What makes digital information valuable? Copyright :upside
  4. Ne007

    Ne007 I wish u were Beer Established Member

    It's the Man's threat to put the smack down on you.

    "You will pay or we will take your life away from you!"

    That's all it is.
  5. nEo420

    nEo420 Member

    rpost fron othr site

    I've been thinking about the value of digital information in terms of two distinct values. Sentimental value and tangible monitary value. The first is the aesthetic value you personally give an object, just because you like it. The second is the hard cash you can trade it for.

    Because a bit of digital information can be duplicated wildly it seems to be a whole different ball game. But I've come to the conclusion that it is really not intrinsically different. The differences come from trying to apply new rules, rather then the physicalness of the item.

    For example, both CDs and downloaded DRM MP3s have similar sentimental value. However, CDs are resellable. This gives them a tangible monitary value as well. By prohibiting resale of DRM MP3s, a company removes all tangable monitary value from its product. That in turn, causes a reduction in the value that its customers place on the digital item. If this item has no monitary value, why can't I make as many copies as I want?

    Now draw a direct analogy to the automobile industry. What if once you purchased a car, you could never resell it. You simple had to collect it or throw it away. What whould happen to the price/value relationship of all cars?

    Obviously, the prices would have to drop. People could no longer trade in their old cars to subsidize their new car. People would have to drive the same car for much longer, thereby depressing the prices for new cars as well.

    There would be no point in collecting rare cars except for sentimental value. But once you died, they would all go into the trash. There would really be huge incentive to simply "copy" a new car style you liked, by cheaply modding your old clunker into that style. It would be much cheaper, and who cares if it was "real" or "fabricated" anyway. Each of those have exactly the same tangible monitary value. Zero. The value difference between "real" and "fabricated" would only be your sentimental value.

    You see. Things are not as different as they seem.
  6. Afn

    Afn Smarter than the average


    Once something is in digital form it can be copied as many times as needed.

    Before the net, if 1,000 people wanted a cassette tape of a seminar, for example, you would have to make 1,000 cassette copies, taking time, equipment and energy.

    Encode once, upload to a webpage and millions can download your information at little cost to you and the recipient.

    Autographed copies and original works of art that has more spirtual value in ownership will survive and make a profit. Everything else will be of little value. Utility rules.

    I define spiritual as something that has more personal value than market value. Things that you would not sell at any price, or assign a value much higher than market value.

    Why would people living in a cult, sell all of their possessions to join this cult and praise a guru? Why do people buy music? The cult has more spiritual value than other objects they own or possess.

    RACKnRAIL 今は知っているでしょ Staff Member Moderator

    One could ask the same question of analog storage of data. Why was a VHS tape valuable? Why was an LP valuable? So IMHO regardless of what means is used to store the data, it's usually the content itself that holds its true value. Copyrights, etc. There is always a master copy; other copies are produced and distributed for $$. Digital or otherwise it's always been about money. Selling your package for a profit and keeping others from stealing it!
  8. Afn

    Afn Smarter than the average

    Why was a VHS tape valuable?

    Good Question. It was the only replacement for film. Before the 1980's, if you wanted to create a television program you had to use film. Film costs more than video, is higher quality, but VHS was like the cd vs mp3 debate today.

    VHS tape only lasts about 15 years, and degrades over time. Mp3 and DVD do not degrade, well at least in theory.

    Digital bit rot (dropped bits in recorded and pressed media) is a problem, but with perfect copy technologies, less of a problem.

    The problem is most content is of little value. The definition of what value is constantly changing.
  9. Afn

    Afn Smarter than the average

    Why was an LP valuable?

    It was a standardized system for the high fidelity distribution of music or spoken word transmissions that allowed for many standard players, playing copies of master recordings multiple or single times at multiple locations, and at multiple times.

    Before the LP (long Playing Record) You had to give your speech or sing your song in many locations to many groups of people. With a master record, you record once, play many.

    Digital does this process better, and at the lowest cost.
  10. shawners

    shawners Hurt no more my son.

    Software is only as valuable as the price you give it. .. No price, no value..
  11. A. Formal definitions for the term "information" are examined.
    1. A message received and understood that reduces the recipient's uncertainty
    2. A collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn
    3. Knowledge acquired through study or experience or instruction
    B. The "digital" qualifier is temporarily removed, because to some extent, information in digitial form is a specific sub class of information, and may valued similarly to the base class.
    C. Define a partial list of overlapping valuable properties or instances:
    * may assist parties in the procurement or retention of valuable resources (avenues of revenue, education, diplomas, copyrights, etc.)
    * may have negative impact on parties if disclosed (extortion potential)
    * may be essential to health, protection and/or defense (NSA, surgeon general's warning, Nutritional Facts, road signs)
    * may be useful in building a strong offensive strategy against opposition
    * may offer details about future events
    * may support a stance, legal or otherwise
    * may illustrate techniques which increase the derivement of pleasure
    Some would consider that while, in a strict traditional defintion, art != information, it often conveys information in particular instances.
    Many would consider it either immoral or impossible to copyright information, while entertaining that "copyrights" themselves, qualify within the term, as information.
    On realizing that the point was quite some distance away, celebrations were canceled.
  12. Afn

    Afn Smarter than the average

    Art is not Information?

    Art and Sciences are a part of the humanities. The purpose of art and science is to move closer to utopia.

    I view copyright as basically a registration that YOU are the AUTHOR of THIS (name of work of art). 600,000 items are copyrighted each year.

    You can not view 600,000 books, magazines, ect.

    We need a better system that allows ubiquidous access to all information for citizens. It is true that the wealthy use information to create vast wealth, and to manipulate information for personal gain. (Corporate ownership of media , for example, suppresses stories that may effect parent corporation or profitablity, but are in the public interest to fully disclose.)

    the more I think about it, I would like to see .03 per work of art download, with .01 going to the government for mantainace .01 going to the author and .01 cent per download going to a small artist's copyright holder's pool. A single system could be digitally indexed, with exemptions for academic research. (free search, ect.)

    Imagine a system that allowed for every new work to be accessed? Think of how that would help people. Every book, every information in digital form could be a research dream.

    Piracy would end, because the system would benefit everyone, and be better than the current system that is corporate controlled and a patchwork of laws designed before digital technology and computer networking-- networking information is not going to go away.

    Digital information makes the current concept of copyright obsolete.
  13. Star Guitar

    Star Guitar I hate Phil Collins

    Interesting responses. Thanks.

    This question came to me one day when I was talking to a friend of mine. He was able to download a digital version of a complete series of comics that he also had in physical form in his closet. He began to wonder if they held any value for him any more, since he only really collected them for reading, and not so much as an investment. (I believe he ended up keeping them anyway.)

    And from here I began to think about the value of information, as well as some of the things that defined it. Eventually, I thought it became important enough to ask. After all, information has become an integral part of many of our lives. For some, it becomes central. Just as one may speak of the basic components of a particular and complex concept or idea, I am curious to see information broken down as to what it is, and what makes it so.

    I hope you all thought this was worth your time. I have more questions to post later, and if anyone else had questions to post, I'd be interested to see them, too.
  14. c411Z

    c411Z Guest

    its the time and resources expended to get it, would be my answer as to what makes things valueble
    and the level of the value from what needs it meets of yours. and if you value it you will feel it.

    many times when things have loast their value to me i somtimes keep them becuse i think if sombody else may want them as a gift i have it to give.
  15. Afn

    Afn Smarter than the average

    Ester Dyson, author of Release 2.0, pointed out in the late 1990's that the value of information is dropping to zero. Look for her paper on intelectual property. It used to be on the net. However, documents keep disappearing and do not return. :(
  16. Star Guitar

    Star Guitar I hate Phil Collins

    I spent some time looking for that paper, but nothing came up. I suppose I'll ned to hunt the book down. However, if you come across that paper, post a link in my second thread on the subject:

    Oh, and thanks.
  17. tamarisk

    tamarisk Member

    I think information value is based on utility i.e. satisfaction gained from using that good.

    Note: You can look for explanation of Utility from any economics textbook

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