One of the major errors too many people make is thinking that the Internet is an information network when in fact it is a network of information. We must understand what information is because it is becoming the driving force (and building blocks) of the emergent knowledge-based society. In fact, it is becoming one of the three main dimensions of our lives.
If the atom is the element that constitutes our physical universe, it is information that constitutes our social universe. Today, a company develops its culture through the process of layering or sedimentation of information. This sedimentation is a refining process whereby we seek greater relevance at each stage of processing (see below).
We change collectively because some information become becomes shared opinion, which in turn becomes energy for action. It is a complex process in which data are used to support decisions :
The information chain
This chain consists of different relevant steps of search (see diagram)
- When contextualized, data becomes information and then knowledge.
- The process can lead to the creation of consensus in the form of opinions.
- On the one side (bottom), different contexts can occur.
- On the other (top), there may be distortions caused by different manipulations which then create historical blunders in our society’s collective decision-making :
The dimensions of information
This process adds value to each step (see below). It works by iteration and often uses techniques of synthesis and mapping. The whole forms a pyramid both in quantity and quality.
- The data has two dimensions : 0 and 1.
- The individual converts the information, which has four dimensions: its subject, purpose, space and time, at its communication.
- There is awareness when the individual establishes a correspondence between (on one hand) his or her conception of reality and (on the other hand) the impact information has on this reality.
- Knowledge is used to create opinions ; opinions are the antechambers of action ; they become energy :
Traditionally, a resource has been chosen by the citizens to develop their society. My great-grandfather was a trapper; he helped build his universe by bringing home beaver pelts. My grandfather was a cook in a lumberjack camp (a cook, a storyteller and a caller) ; he helped build a world of bucking and driving logs. During my father’s time, the development of electric dams became important. The generation of my grandchildren will create their own world from this intangible capital known as information.
The three stages
The nature of information has evolved through three distinct historical stages. It was first filtered by the State and the Church during the implementation of the first media networks (1900). Then information was greatly manipulated by the promoters of large mass-media and digital systems (1950 onward). Now, because many people wish to speak out, information in circulation is not filtered and is not necessarily valid.
This is a significant problem:
The first step relied primarily on the written civilization, the second on a civilization based on images-on-screens and now we are developing a data-based civilization. Each stage has developed a new media writing style that created a mutation of the predominant culture. Further, these steps will be described as the pre-Internet, the Internet 1 & 2 and the Internet 3 (Chapter 3, no. 1).
The contents and services were added during all of the stages described above:
Thus, several trends are beginning to emerge which will become the foundation of the knowledge-based society :
- dematerialization of content;
- multi platform production process;
- markets, both globalized and Long Tail niches ;
- a reallocation of the advertising base ;
- actors who disappear while new ones are added ;
- multiplication of the three types of images-on-screens ( TV, PC and mobile).
In summary, data was used in the past to describe and monitor our “reality”, whereas now opinions will be used to drive change :
Information which was a civic good during the industrial era becomes a civic right with the arrival of the knowledge-based society.
Information is the material used to define our relationship with our universe and is its building block.
Ideas are the real engine of societal change
Since the dawn of mankind, our societies have been shaken up by the arrival of new ideas. Their movement through society forces us to change our collective ways of living and thinking :
In fact, our universe is like a world where ideas and information are leaping from one brain to another (as with a virus that goes from one body to another). With each leap, the speed and quantity increase (hence an idea in our society can become energy at any given time).
The transitions of the past 50 years
In only a couple of decades we have lived through some deep and critical changes :
The transitions of various devices :
These transitions signal the beginning of a great battle :
- for the attention of consumers;
- involving a massive change in the distribution of the advertising base ;
- towards a common literacy for users (chapter 7, no. 9).
America’s soft power (cultural) is beginning to be developed in this new space.
One of the three dimensions of our society
Unlike the industrial society (two dimensions, space and time), the knowledge-based society has three dimensions : space, time and information.
Information circulating through space and time defines these two dimensions, because information is now energy (see below). It is as if we added to the X and Y dimensions a dimension Z ; a dimension of movement and acceleration (multiplied by the Internet) :
We are already talking about 3D presentations, holograms, lasers, special visual effects, stage shows, mobile devices, movable interfaces (Wii), goggles or helmets of virtual reality, satellites studying the cosmos or wars with drones, etc.
Using all these effectively in the name of progress requires new ways of thinking.
In the field of devices (hardware) it is easy to observe the transitions happening, but in the much more abstract field of information it becomes more difficult.
And yet, these transitions include :
Today, various media platforms re-organize in order to offer users a variety of approaches that guarantee freedom of choice :
- Traditional TV provides infotainment group (chapter 5, no 6) ;
- specialty channels feed thematic niches ;
- logs provide basic information and funds folders or launch alerts ;
- Google and Wikipedia provide references (chapter 6, no 3) ;
- radio presents live events ;
- paper book do not disappear, they will always address readers’ imaginations ;
- hacktivist sites inform us about the different soft or other revolutions in progress ;
- the four Webs offer various access, especially encyclopedic knowledge (chapter 3, no 11) ;
- Internet of Things enables monitoring of health and safety (chapter 3, no 6) ;
- games offer dream spaces and introduce players to 3D environments ;
- the Deep Web allows illegal activities ;
- the different types of players exhibit catalogs of books (Kindle), video or movies (Netflix, etc.) ;
- social networks allow each person to speak publicly, and thus take part in the life of the global village. They become customized chat rooms or consensus building spaces (chapter 7, no 10) ;
- cell phones reveal the here and now (chapter 5, no 8). Etc.
As previously noted, these transitions announce the beginning of a great battle for the attention of the citizen-consumer, changes in the distribution of advertising dollars and the need for a common literacy for users (chapter 7, no 9).
However, we are now leaving Newtonian time-and-space for Einsteinian time-and-space.
The new features:
We lose time and gain in diversity
Not so long ago information « lasted » several days, when it was broadcast by the mass media. Today it is quickly swept up and moved along by others because of the daily flood spawned by globalization.
Taking time to comment on today’s information hardly explains it in a minute and a half. Being decontextualized, it becomes meaningless and offers up only a disjointed vision of the event. There are fewer and fewer reference points.
How is it that we have so much information, but know so little?
In addition, information is now displayed in visualized forms. It is presented by a few sentences spoken during the distribution of photographed or filmed images. If there is no picture, it becomes a non-event.
The viewer does not « see » anything more than a stream of highly emotional images which are received directly into his brain (chapter 4, no. 6). Our media are the drums that resonate instead of being a space in which we reason, wherein we analyze the event.
Current TV turns people into an obedient servant :
After 2020 (?)
We are beginning to seek the creation (or capture) of users’ sustained attention through using search engines or browsers that visually combine words with images and games (see diagram below).
The response to Big Data is the use of Visual Big Data (Chapter 5, no. 9).
Large commercial empires thus desire to develop more interactive visual and especially immersive interfaces :
After machine learning systems will come Deep Learning.