On Information Fertility

I recently blogged about the Empowerment perspective, apropeaux Rick’s attempt at finding a ”core word” to define the Pirate Pary’s ideology with. This got me thinking about the sorry state of the Pirate Movement’s terminology apparatus. Telecomix has occasionally tried (conciously or not) to make some contributions, but these have generally boiled down to transparent attempts at seeming self-referential, and are rather oversaturated in terms of lulz-factor, and so haven’t really had much success in this area.

Anyhow, this little debate has piqued my curiosity in terms of what philosophical goals one might say that the Pirate Party wants to achieve. Last time, I wrote about a common denominator among religions being the stripping down of one’s self in order to feel more connected to one’s surroundings. This time, my analysis will be less spiritually inclined, but I think the fundamental epistemological conundrum of how to understand another person’s self is still relevant. If we assume that all people want to be happy, and define Goodness as what begets happiness, or happiness as the result of Goodness, we can conclude that all people share a common goal: To maximise happiness.

As I explained in my last blogpost however, one cannot assume a single Goodness common to all, and therefore cannot assume that what makes us happy necessarily makes other people happy. When dealing with this solipsistic obstacle, we can either embrace it and surrender to it by closing ourselves off, or we can attempt to overcome it. In order to overcome it, we need to find out what makes other happy, which is to say we need to understand what is Good for other people. The only way to understand something, I maintain, is to hold information on it, and information must be gathered. So then, how do we gather information on the inner workings of another person’s mind?

Why, through communication, of course. It is only by transmitting the thoughts in our mind to another mind, that the interior of our psyche can even begin to be understood. Unfortunately, all existing means of communications are fundamentally flawed, since when we communicate our thoughts we have to convert them into a different medium, as we cannot simply plug our brain into someone else’s and send thoughts to them directly. Instead, we have to first change the format of our thoughts, into speech for instance, so that they may be externalised and received by another person. This is where the epistemological barriers come in. See, when we convert our thoughts into a different medium, part of their essence -part of the information – is lost. This is much like when you make a movie out of a book or vice versa – it is impossible to precisely communicate the exact perspectives expressed in the original. Of course, person-to-person communication is even more troublesome since the communicator must first convert his thoughts into a format that can be externalised, and then the receiving person must convert that format back into thoughts.

At this point, however, we should note that different parts of our thoughts are lost depending on the format we convert them into. For reference, consider the differences between converting a book into a movie and converting it into a comic book or an audio recording. It becomes apparent, then, that we can more fully express our thoughts by converting them into different formats, and externalising all of them. In other words, format diversity creates information diversity. I doubt I am the only person to have been moved by a piece of classical music in a way that is fundamentally different from how, say, literature can affect me.

At this point, the importance of freedom of information should become all to clear: If we want to maximise happiness, we can only achieve this with any accuracy by understanding what makes our fellow humans happy, and coming to this understanding can only be done most effectively through extensive and diverse communication. By limiting the freedom of information, you effectively limit your understanding  of human happiness, and thereby your ability to facilitate it. Freedom of Information, then, is a necessary prerequisite for achieving that fundamental goal which is common to all people: Happiness. To obstruct the freedom of information, therefore, is to obstruct the pursuit of happiness.

Let us not stop there, though. After all, there is still that mysterious and obscure term in the title to investigate. We have already asserted the importance of Freedom of Information, but only in the sense that we should not censor or otherwise without permission interfere with communication between people. Since we have also asserted the importance of communication to the pursuit of happiness, we need not limit our standpoint to one of mere non-censorship. No, we can in fact say that it is productive and conducive to facilitate informationproliferation.

This, principally, is achieved by encouraging and supporting the construction (in multiple senses of the word) of more and new media on to which thoughts converted to different formats can be externalised. That is to say, we maximise the proliferation of information increasing and expanding the tools with which it is stored and transferred. In other words, we want to increase the information fertility in our physical world by building more spaces (both material and virtual) on to which information from multiple sources can be attached (or attach itself!) and in which it can propagate through copying and remixing.

Information fertility should not simply be analysed as the storage capacity of a space, however, but rather we should see information as more or less transient streams which proliferate in greater degrees with greater speeds. The is why telecommunications infrastructure is important: It reduces transmission times to the speed of light. This is also why Clouds, Swarms, and wireless networks are important: They create more spaces to which information can be externalised, and provide greater numbers of human agents which can participate in the interpretation, reinterpretation, and distribution of said information.

Fundamentally, Information Fertility is the (quantitative) property of being medial in the propagation of information, and by extension the prerequisite for effective maximisation of happiness in society. It is, at heart, what the Pirate Party is all about, and is the basic, abstract essence of what we are trying to achieve.

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