Lyn Horton: Information Is Light Bulb

February 1st 2009 02:21 pm

Copyright © 2009 Lyn Horton

How information is assembled gives it meaning. Way back when information theory sprang up in the burgeoning age of the computer, if a vacuum tube was on or off, it was conveying one bit of information. The same on-off technology is true now; the conveyor is simply about a zillion times smaller and faster, more efficient. It takes 40 ICs to equal the power that could be supplied by a vacuum tube. Every time ICs diminish in size or change in configuration … well, imagine that.

The way in which information is disbursed signals the onset of a process. Put into a larger context, with the downturn of the economy and layoffs at technology industries as a backdrop, hardware is moving out and the development of software is rising. How that little ol’ Blackberry or iPhone is used and the number of apps it carries could be one key to the transition to a new economic world. Using information. Applying information.

Nat Hentoff was quoted in a NYTimes article documenting his being “let go” from the Village Voice. He said, in effect, that writers are inundated with information to the point of being so overwhelmed that proper research is avoided and what turns up being printed is downright wrong. Information in this case can be understood in terms of its application: how relevant and valuable it is to the context being developed for it. This leads to a possible conclusion: how information integrates into context that lives outside of the home of the information is a creative act.

So what does this all mean? It means that a slow down is necessary so that the assimilation of information can be complete enough in research in order to avoid mistaking the wrong information for the right information. Too much misinformation is attributable to a lack of experience with subject matter and lack of attention given to thinking. The quality of Reading and Listening is more important than the amount of information compacted into conversation, books, or articles that can mean nothing. It is that simple. Reading and Listening take time, applying what is learned takes thought.

Reading and Listening transcend the information highways and allow for time to park. Reading and Listening can define experience, which can be associated with some kind of emotion. Reading and Listening are experiences themselves. How clearly they are experienced is a matter of the participants’ purpose and state of mind.

Is music information?

When it is packaged in a recording, it becomes information. But making and playing music changes its informational characteristics. In its most basic form, music begins from the outside with sets of information, like the notes on a page or the instructions for playing instruments. But then, that information is taken in and learned and assimilated and then applied. Life enters in. The people who make music are communicating. The music is the language they have chosen, to say what cannot be said in any other way. The people behind the music have individual experiences, perceptions, beliefs, sentiments. The tools that are used are chosen because they can convey the most appropriate sound and translate possibly the most musicality as designated by the composer or realized by an instrumentalist.

Music is not concerned with correctness. Music becomes itself through discovery. It is subject however to structure. The source of Structure imposed on music is defined by the composer/instrumentalist, no matter how the music is formed initially, either in a traditionally disposed composition or through improvisation and indeterminacy, or a combination of both processes. The capacity to structure music takes years to refine and perhaps begins with music theory. The muscles for creating structure have to be strong. Structure has to do with cumulative knowledge and practice, instinct and intuition.

Music is also imbued with expression. The source for expression lies in the emotion and spirit of the composer or musician. How the dynamic, timbre and whatever has to do with choice originates in sensitivity and commitment, in personal struggle, sorrow, longing, loving and forgiveness. Expression also is the product of the absorption of the environment. Noisy or silent. Music can also reflect the environment in its poignancy and elegance.

Music can be anything which the musical artist crafts it to be. The artist filters the surrounding information. And out of that process comes what is created. Nothing more, nothing less. Music and art live on the edge of their perception. Writing and talking about music and art pushes them over the edge and makes them a part of a world which reactive words inhabit. These words can often be mistaken for the art itself and relied upon too heavily.

Information is light bulb. Music and art are chandeliers.

Posted by Lyn Horton under Lyn Horton | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Lyn Horton: Information Is Light Bulb”

  1. admin responded on 03 Feb 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    Lyn, the confusions you address here have been much discussed, and largely left unresolved, in recent philosophy, particularly since Thomas Nagel‘s “What is it like to be a bat?” was published in 1974. On one end of the spectrum are those who think that information in and of itself constitutes consciousness, for instance David Chalmers. Elsewhere on the spectrum are the intriguing views on music of Brian Josephson, a physicist who suspects music is closer to expressing the essence of consciousness than any other of our forms of communication. Not sure where how he’d answer your question on music vis à vis information. Is music (or consciousness for that matter) beyond information – something which holds and organizes it – or is it comprised, as Chalmers would have it, entirely of information itself? In Nagel’s view, even after you’ve exhausted a listing of all the information present, consciousness is yet something more. Might Josephson be right that music is the closest thing we have, among our modes of expression, to that something more?

  2. Lyn responded on 04 Feb 2009 at 10:27 am #


  3. Lyn responded on 15 Feb 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    David Pogue writes a weekly column called Circuits. It is without fail that he brings up questions and answers for the moment (cause that is about how long technological history lasts without changing) in technology’s evolution. In this article, he deals with the number of Applications on the iPhone and how with every passing minute, those applications are increasing. I cite this article here for the purpose of supporting the idea of how necessary the application of information is. As well as how important it is to NEVER forget that humans are responsible for culture. And no matter how many APPs exist in the handheld computer device world, the creation of their substance is human; the formation is APPs is collectively human and technological.

    Music is a human creation. We cannot forget that we are human.
    This is a simple concept. It is a concept that in itself in order to be truly comprehended requires consciousness and creative thinking.