“Information is a difference that makes a difference.”
Gregory Bateson (Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity)
To keep your little lifeboat of meaning afloat in a turbulent
sea of misinformation, full of the riptides of false, irrelevant
data and treacherous whirlpools of consumer temptation
and potential debt, stay close to the coastlines of the broad,
historical, polycultural view.
Learn the languages of foreign ports of call. Seeing things
for oneself from many different perspectives naturally lifts
the best view up into awareness, like a single bright beacon
one suddenly sees clearly on a distant horizon.
And when the mist of night closes in, keep your moral
compass close to your heart, and let it point to the true
north of sound, ethical principle. Always:–First, do no harm.
A NOTE ON RELEVANCE: “relevance” comes to us from
the Latin, RELEVANT, or “raising up,” which suggests,
as David Bohm pointed out, “a raising up into awareness.”
In the current era of pushing DATA into the current non-stop
OVERLOAD of images and sounds, where everybody wants
to sell you something, is spying on you, and/or is promoting
him or herself, I find that is possible–Nay, absolutely necessary–
to take refuge in RELEVANCE. If you think of it, there is alway
a dearth, a severe shortage, of relevance. That is, like Bateson
so beautifully puts it, information that makes a difference. I
also find that it is evidently only possible to sense relevance
relative to a problem space.
Say I’m a conductor. I lead an orchestra for new music. Then
I must find new pieces to play, right?
That is my problem space.
But 99% of what’s written is trash.
That’s the NOISE, the flood of IR-relevant data. It’s
everywhere. And increasing exponentially, every day. But what
I’m looking for is the difference that makes a difference. The
challenge, then, is to filter out the BAD, while letting the GOOD
come through. This is especially important for the young, or
the young mind as it is learning to learn. It should be one of
the primary thing they study and work on, in my view, as a
kind of daily yoga-of-the-mind practice.
Below is a TWEET. Just a text message of maximum 140
characters, 137 in this case, you say. But notice that tweets,
very differently from how FACEBOOK moves DATA around,
are like seeds of meaning. Seeds of meaning that, given a
particular reader’s context, may unfold into relevance. Sometimes, tremendous relevance. And they have a certain wonderful quality
of independence of self, or autonomy of one’s physical
circumstance. It’s just the meaning that counts. It makes
no difference if I’m white or black, handsome or ugly, or
haven’t combed my hair today, or don’t have enough money
to pay my rent. It’s just about meaning. That’s brilliant.
Culturally, this really IS A difference that makes a difference.
READING: “Information is a difference that makes a difference.”
Gregory Bateson, from “Mind & Nature” pdf [4.5 Mb]