Information may be the building block of the universe; it's certainly the building block of the internet. A pop physics book published last year, Decoding Reality by Vlatko Vedral, lays out a grand unified theory of the universe based on information as the fundamental unit, making the entire world a quantum computer.
"the most exciting philosophical question for any human being"
But what about the information on Decoding Reality?
It was funneled to me through Google, through a search for "information as a building block of physics", leading to the blog "Before I Forget…", then to the Economist review. Who's getting paid here, moving all this valuable (universal) information around?
Vedral was paid for writing Decoding Reality by Oxford University Press (I hope!). Someone at the Books and Arts department at the Economist was probably paid to review it (although you don't want to assume). It doesn't look from the "About Me" page on "Before I Forget…", which introduces us to systems engineer M. M. Madan, that he was paid to share the Economist review. He just likes re-posting things from the Economist:
Information is funneled around the internet in parcels that people were trying to call memes for a while, until that phrase got co-opted by the internet-celebrity biz. It's best to think of internet information simply as content -- something you want, like the escape that comes headlong into a good book or movie.
Some organizations -- Netflix, Apple, Amazon -- act as toll-keepers in the information flow. People like M. M. Madan aggregate information and add a tiny spin on it -- sometimes just in the presentation of the content -- to give it value.
That's what I try to do here. Vedral, in his book, outlines a disheartening rule:
The information content of any event is proportional to the logarithm of its inverse probability of occurrence.
That means the more rare something is, the more information it contains. If I tell you about an amazing event that you've never heard of, I add lots of value.
Unfortunately, for me, most of those kinds of events are painful and embarrassing personal stories valuable to me because I can use them for books, one of which I will have an announcement about soon.
There is some comfort in another rule from Vedral's book:
Information can be created out of nothing.
Unlike matter and energy, which are conserved, information can be created out of thin air -- and if you twist it the right way, it becomes entertainment/art. Just by adding the framing device of his well-designed blog, M. M. Madan added value to the story of information as the building block of physics (and managed to beat the Economist on Google) and he doesn't want to get paid -- he just wants to be loved like you and me.
- It's Kind of a Funny Story coming to DVD / BluRay February 8, 2011:
Thanks to Cinemablend for the coverage. Soon you won't have to watch bootleg clips like this one!
- "The Year's Best and Worst Book Trailers | Books | The L Magazine"
An article I wrote about 2010's crop of book trailers, also covering the short history of the book trailer:
- In a year where I have a lot to be grateful about, my parents, small-business owners in New York with a manufacturing operation, have survived the economy and introduced new energy-saving lights to the world:
Congrats everyone at Edison Price Lighting!
- I visited The Brentwood School in Los Angeles:"Mr. Vizzini was funny, honest, and authentic while he presented about his past experiences being clinically depressed, why he writes, and what makes a good story (a love triangle and FIRE). We hope to have him visit again." [more]
Thanks to librarian Elisabeth Abarbanel and Jennifer Banash at the Brentwood School for having me in. I answered lots of writing questions and apparently kept people entertained despite the beard. More here.
- I was really impressed in 2010 by Strength of Us, a project of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
It's a social networking platform for people who want to talk about mental health, full of boards and groups on everything from "Depression support" to "My New Dog!" I did an interview with Chuck:
"Strength Of Us: Chuck's blog: Author Ned Vizzini Talks about Depression, Suicide & Writing"
You have to sign up to read it, but if you have any interest in mental health or issues with it yourself, this is one of the best resources to come around in a while; you might want to sign up anyway.
Finally, Happy 2011! Thank you everyone for your support in 2010. I'll keep doing my best to produce more information for you in the last year before, you know...