“information” means a lot of different things to different people. But for this article, we will focus on its practical meaning. In the technological, operational and social domains information has a number of meanings. Information processing refers to the process of collecting, arranging and managing information. Information management refers to the act of designing and operating information systems. Information technology focuses on the applications used to process and store information.
The scope of information theory covers a wide range of areas. For instance it can be used to explain the difference between conscious and unconscious information processing. According to information theory, information processing occurs through conscious and unconscious mental processes, where information is consciously processed in order to make an output (a thought or action) and information is unconsciously processed to perform a function. According to information theory, conscious mental processes control and direct the operation of unconscious mental processes, but unconscious processes are also active in some cases.
In conscious information processing, information reaches a user’s mind in the form of sensory information, memories and so on. For instance, the product your son has bought for his birthday is a sensory information. This is a mental item that was processed by your conscious mind. When he goes to the store to buy food for his birthday, the information is transformed into a physical object that your son picks up from the shelf. This information is then acted upon by your unconscious mind.
According to information theory, information is both non-volatile and volatile. Non-volatile information is neither fixed nor definite and exists only as long as it exists in the external world. A computer, for instance, does not have a permanent non-volatile information, but it does have a non-volatile data storage component that exists through the operation of the hardware and software. In contrast, the information in your subconscious mind is definite and permanent.
According to information theory, information is a physical commodity independent of its physical expression and it can be neither created nor destroyed. In fact, information is a construction of the human mind through action, so that the same information that your son brings home from the store is entirely different from the information programmed into your subconscious when you are creating new information during the night’s sleep. You cannot make an old phone number or an erased eraser look the same again. Information, however, can be changed from one state to another.
One final information concept is predictive coding. It states that an individual’s thoughts and his patterns of behavior are somewhat genetically coded in such a way that certain types of information, once acquired, tend to be more probable than others. This genetic coding is what underlies the predictions of sports statistics, the results of lottery numbers and the likelihood that a person will spot an identical automobile at two different angles when inspecting the vehicle in front of him.