A Sense of Information

I consume information, an act necessary to live. The act of consuming information can be observed in all functions of being alive. Much like my habit to consume an organic, sustainable, and pescetarian diet, quantifying the impacts of those products is a personal necessity to proactive, healthy living. I believe that the consumption of information products, such as semantic media, is as vital to my lifelong health as eating well. Homo sapiens, being adept at collective learning, appear to connect the semantic media that we consume directly to our perceptual value, oblivious to the unintended consequences of consuming semantic media.

A similar act of being “oblivious to unintended consequences” can be understood by looking at a person’s respiratory system. The air quality of the gases that we consume every second of our lives occurs irrespective of our technological ability to quantify the content of those gases. I believe that I can develop a multidisciplinary set of tools in order to streamline the processing of semantic media to help humanity better understand the consequences of creating and sharing semantic information.

Dr. Oren Etzioni, UW professor of computer science and engineering, “provocatively” explained that Web search needs a complete re-design. I agree that our current way of organizing the semantic web is quickly becoming an outdated practice. However, no creative solution is going to be developed if we’re still using the same tools, using the same high-level paradigms to understand the nature of information.

Multidisciplinary research is necessary to holistically understand the nature of information. The relationships between complex systems, some static in nature, some adaptive in nature, are critical for generating data for analysis. It must be completely appreciated that information’s use is dependent on the perspective of a living organism, because all living organisms require information in order to understand its expected and understood environment. This is significant because we rarely take the time out of our day to analyze the effects of the information that we consume, because once we’ve consumed it, we take for granted the relationships between the systems that made said information come into existence. This is a separate issue from understanding the data from which some information comes, or the background history of the information, which may include the history of the author or the history of specific events. There are systemic patterns in the creation of semantic media, and in order to broadly understand the consequences of information, misinformation, and disinformation, we must look at the relationships between various types of information, and why they are used and not used.

Creating tools to manage information on the Internet should be a trivial feet these days considering how many billions of dollars are used to maintain our growing semantic content online. However, I believe that we’re dramatically undervaluing that very information. Since we use our perceived information so fluidly and in such large amounts, we do not fully understand why or how our knowledge is self reinforcing, or how to strategically share our information in ways that would be more impactful.

The tools that I want to develop would be useful in a wide range of business environments. Political pundits could deconstruct a limitless amount of news articles and juxtapose key elements of how and why many authors skew their information according to their objectives. The very same authors could use the same tools to design their content explicitly around their objectives, whether it is to inform readers or to misinform readers, both of which are super-categories for a whole slew of specific possibilities. Search engine providers could create a vast amount of new tools for users to deconstruct and construct all types of semantic content in dramatically more effective ways than are currently being implemented. Individuals would be able to train themselves to optimize the consumption of semantic information, whereby the use of personalized metrics could allow people to generate their own actionable information (intelligence) following said consumption. Artificial intelligence developers could more thoroughly understand the complex systems affecting networked information. Creating small, adaptable tools to break down and build up information could affect every aspect of our lives, if we choose to use them.

While the debate looms about to what degree the use of the Internet affects our brain and the development of our mind, the notion that large amounts of specifically constructed information affect our knowledge base and thus our opinion about specific knowledge areas is not in question. But how, and why, are critical pieces in order to understand ourselves and our roles in an information society.


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