The Endless Conversation
Mike Meyer
1997

Hear what you’re saying Mike, but I’d fortify your argument by distinguishing between information and knowledge, and between use and exchange value — concepts that have long been cornerstones in discussions of capitalism, commodification, economic exchange, and which assist in describing the transition from the industrial to the information age.

Information is valueless if it does not connect to actors who put it to use. Information “exchanged” between people is communication. It’s value then is whatever utility is ascribed to it (or extracted from it), whatever markets pay for it, and whatever trust people place in it.

So there is no value to information unless it is embedded and taken up in the context of a culture and society willing and able to trust that information. At which point it can become knowledge. So people aren’t information, they are knowledgable actors (regardless whether their knowledge is factually accurate, useful, morally right, etc).

Communication amongst knowledgable actors is the means of production of information. It does not produce itself. Systems — technical, social, etc—shape the circulation and distribution as well as connectedness of information, not information itself.

We can’t produce a social proposition on information alone. We need to account for its means of production and distribution (communication). And therein lies the rub and the challenge. Open systems co-exist with closed systems; information communicated is subject to relationships of trust; social units, from communities to institutions, put information to use for their own purposes; cooperation but also competition and conflict are real.

Information alone has no more value than currency without a market.

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