Tuesday 6 April 2010

General Definition of Information: GDI (Floridi)

In Information: A Very Short Introduction, Luciano Floridi has the following, as a formulation of the idea that Information is 'data plus meaning'.
The General Definition of Information (GDI):
σ is an instance of information, understood as semantic content, if and only if:

(GDI.1) σ consists of one or more data;
(GDI.2) the data in σ are well-formed;
(GDI.3) the well-formed data in σ are meaningful.
At the moment I'm not convinced the formulation adds anything to saying 'data plus meaning'. It still begs all sorts of questions, but maybe it is useful to have it there as a reference point.


Simon D'Alfonso said...

Yes, I would say that this is just a more detailed way of saying information, understood as semantic content, is data plus meaning.

The second condition is implied by the third condition right?

I do like the discussion on the nature of data.

Also, recall that Floridi adds his veridicality condition to the definition of factual semantic information.

David Chapman said...

I'm not sure I've quite got my head around what he means here by 'well formed', but it does seem redundant. If data can only be meaningful if well-formed, then as you say GDI.2 is implied by GDI.3. On the other hand, if data can be meaningful even if not well-formed, then the definition implies that meaningful data that are not well-formed are not information. That doesn't seem reasonable to me.

Marcus A. said...

In looking over Floridi's recent (modest?) revisions to GDI (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/information-semantic/) I see some value in this approach. Still, I too see some issues in his presentation. For example, in looking at his ensuing notions of 'The Diaphoric Definition of Data (DDD)' [in section 1.3] I think his differentiation of 'diaphora de re' and 'diaphora de signs' is not well crafted. There are many likely cases where I think material facts/events (de re) can be taken directly as signals (de signs). For me, the lack of clear differentiation here makes GDI too fuzzy to be very useful – although I plainly *do* think it points to a useful way of approaching fundamental issues, and could be easily improved and become most useful.