What is timeless information?

It is a fascinating question (at least to me). Time is a component of all information and information is a component of time. Maybe it is information that is still relevant regardless of the era of when it is shared. Perhaps, it is just information that you can’t just pin down to a timeline.

Information lives on some sort of multi-dimensional timeline that winds and twists through the ages. Although information can now travel across the world in an instant, information used to be very tied to a location. Regions would become clusters for some sort of knowledge. Remnants of that system still drive a lot knowledge forward today. Proximity and location definitely drive access to information. This is one of the big questions about being co-located with your coworkers. The assumption is that co-location fosters information sharing in a richer way than purely digital communication that attempts to replicate that kind of information exchange. More incidental sharing of information happens in person, I suspect that knowledge sharing is better documented in the remote collaboration world.

Information Half Life

However, all Information has a half life of value. At a certain point, information begins to lose its value. This is an example of Nassim Taleb’s “Lindy Effect” where something that has been around for a long time is likely to last at least that amount of longer. The “Lindy Effect” has its roots with theater, it is very evident in information technology where platforms that have been around a long time will continue to be around while newer technology is more likely to fade. Microsoft Word has been around since the 1980s and it is not going anywhere (history of word processor). The value of information fluctuates dramatically. It goes from being highly valuable at a moment in time, to being valueless in the next moment. But at another moment in time, that information can be incredibly valuable.

To paraphrase Charles Fine of MIT, ‘all information is temporary’. In the grand scale of the universe that is probably true. While some information stands the test of time and other information fluctuates over time.