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It from Bit [PDF]

As an amateur information theorist, I was pleased to find a link to this paper by John Archibald Wheeler on the idea he terms, “It From Bit.”

It from bit symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom — at a very deep bottom, in most instances — an immaterial source and explanation; that what we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe.

It’s a beautiful and hopeful piece, and reminiscent of both Cesar Hidalgo’s Why Information Grows and James Gleick’s The Information opus. Information – bits – meaning. May we all seek to eliminate entropy in our own lives. Amen.

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Publishing, privilege, and noblesse oblige

H.L. Mencken’s “Life of Kings” quote does the industry a disservice and in this column I argue that publishers should use an older framework, noblesse oblige, to better understand their social obligation.

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Old but new to me.

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