Arguments over what information to measure, and how are fundamentally irresolvable. There are too many good answers, and for most purposes measurement problems make it impossible to measure exactly what we want, in any case. The WSJ’s “numbers guy” collects some views on this, related to the new USC/Science article on the world’s computation.
My print column this week examines a recent paper in Science and other research efforts that attempt to quantify the world’s information. The studies generally compile dozens of pieces of data, such as hard-drive production and sales, and put all information into a single unit, such as bytes or words. “We can say things like ‘a 6 square-cm newspaper image is worth a 1000 words,’ ” the Science study’s authors, Martin Hilbert and Priscila López, wrote.