Free Information vs Information Protectionism

Paul Foley
28 May 2001 16:54:57 +1200

On Sun, 27 May 2001 23:38:11 -0400, Kyle Lahnakoski wrote:

> May you clarify the distinction between "idea" and data.

Data, in this sense, is a physical, tangible thing -- patterns of
magnetism on the surface of a disk or tape, electrical impulses inside
a computer, etc.; an idea given form, if you will.

You know that saying about an infinite number of monkeys banging on
typewriters eventually producing the complete works of Shakespeare?
That makes a good example, I think: imagine not an infinite number of
monkeys, but a finite number of people.  Provide them with an idea for
a story: give them one of Shakespeare's plays in as much detail as you
like, save only that you not provide the original text.  Now ask that
each person write a play based on that idea.  If they each produce
text which matches, verbatim, the text produced by Shakespeare, then I
withdraw my claim that there is any distinction.  In fact, if any one
of them produces such a text, I withdraw it!

You don't have to agree with me; you can be wrong if you want.

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