bonkerfield

reasons

What's the point of a personal website anyway? I pursue the experience and the creation of many things that I believe have value. But it's reasonable to ask, "Why bother?" In short, I'm writing this to understand my own bonkerfield.

What's a bonkerfield?

Bonkerfield is the word I use to describe what it means for information to exist. So understanding my bonkerfield is understanding the information that makes up...well... me.

That sounds a little extravagant, but once it's broken down, I think it isn't totally crazy.

An example

It might help to take a simple example where we are looking at the information contained in a single paragraph in a book. Does the information live just in the printed words of a single page? At the very least it has to be present in all the printed copies of that books. But the information can be thought to exist in a whole lot of other places too.

Imagine that paragraph contains the quote "Call me Ishmael" from Moby Dick. That would mean some of the information lives in a small part of all the copies of Moby Dick as well. And suppose that when the author quoted that line in Moby Dick, she did so because she had also read an article that suggested quoting Moby Dick is a good strategy for getting published. So some seed of the generation of the paragraph was formed in that article too. All the places where the author gathered information to write that paragraph include some partial component of the information contained within it.

And that isn't the end of it either. It's also present in the minds of anyone who might read the paragraph and internalize that information. How much of the information is present will vary depending on how much attention the audience was paying, and whether they correctly translated the information into their own brains. Finally, the information in that paragraph may someday be referenced in another novel, which can lead to diffusion to a whole other set of people.

So if you were to try to imagine where that information lives at all times and how "strong" of a residue of the information is present, you'd have to picture a 4D spacetime field occupying all the places we just mentioned. That's a bonkerfield.

Explained in greater detail

If the craziness above wasn't enough for you, here's a little more explanation. A clearer term to describe the bonkerfield might be an information identity spacetime field. Sounds lofty, but after breaking the parts down, it should make sense.

Information Identity

To start, I should explain what I mean by an information identity. I'm using the term to mean, literally, the identity that defines some information, but to understand that we need to break down what I mean by information and identity.

Even though information is a fairly abstract concept, I think most people seem to have a pretty intuitive sense of what it is. To cut to the chase, let's just say information is some way of describing ideas that we can transmit around through physical manifestations. Similarly, I like to use a definition of identity that hybridizes the philosophical definition with our more intuitive understanding of personal identity. So for the sake of this argument let's just say that identity is the combination of all those aspects of a thing that make it that unique thing in and of itself. So your phone's identity is all the things that make your phone, your phone and not somebody else's.

The information identity is then just the way of defining a unique piece of information. It's important to remember that unlike the identity of phones and people, information is not the medium itself, but rather the meaning conveyed on the medium. This means that information can be replicated exactly, and so the information identity can be shared among many different conduits of information all over the world.

Spacetime

To picture an information identity as it exists in the world, we'd need to mentally visualize the locations of all the copies of that information in the world. If we were imagining the information in a news article we would imagine all the open web browsers that are viewing that article and all the copies sitting on computer servers. However, that doesn't give us a great picture because there are some people navigating to and from the page all the time. So to really see where that information lives, we take it one step further. We imagine not just where that information is at this instant, but where it has been at all points in time.

It can be tricky to think about where something is in not only space, but time too. Physicists picture the location of objects in space and time using a concept called spacetime. They generally think about this in regard to physical objects, and that's a good place to get an introduction to the concept. As an example, check out this bowling ball rolling in this gif I found.

bowling ball rolling

The ball is more or less traveling in a straight line down the alley so at any point in time we can describe its position along the single spatial dimension of the length of the alley. We can view the position along that dimension of space at multiple time points by looking at still frames from the movie next to each other.

bowling ball rolling slices

Now if we were to narrow the slices and take more of them, the path of the ball would become filled in along that single dimension. We can draw this out as a filled in tube in a 2D plane.

bowling ball rolling slices

This is two dimensions of the spacetime that the bowling ball occupies (one spatial dimension and one time dimension). If you think beyond the timeframe in the video, you can imagine the bowling ball going on to be used over and over again. The full spacetime location of the bowling ball is the path traced out by it through its entire existence.

This is the same situation for the information identities. However, the information identity isn't relegated to a single tube like the bowling ball because at's interesting is that we can think about what happens when we start replicating information. For example, imagine my friend wants to come over and copy a flash drive. Well if you looked at the information identity housed on that flashdirve in spacetime, you'd see it would look like a single tube at early times (like the bowling ball) and then suddenly it would split to become two tubes that snake around independently.

There's just one complication with this, what happens if something goes wrong when we copy the flash drive and some small difference appears. Are they two totally different information identities now? How do we deal with that?

Field

The final piece of the bonkerfield is allowing the information identity to exist in a continuous state rather than as something fully binary. We want the "presence" of the information to vary continuously from 100% when you have an exact copy to 0% when you have something that is totally unrelated. To describe this we turn to another physics concept called a field.

We're mostly familiar with fields in physics like gravitational force fields and elecromagnetic fields. But any quantity that varies in space can be described as a field. We can talk about the temperature field to describe how temperature varies throughout a house (warmer by the sunny windows, colder in the basement). We can even talk about more abstract things like an "intelligence field that quantifies how intelligent the entities in one region of space are. For an intelligence field, parts of the world occupied by humans have a high value, parts occupied by slugs have a lower value (presumably) and rocks would have even lower value.

We're interested in the information identity spacetime field, which we can define as how much of the information identity is present across different points in space and time. This accounts for minor corruptions in the information as well as intentional changes to the inderlying information. Importantly, when your identifiable unit of information is first "formed," it is often constructed by some restructuring of multiple previously existing pieces of information. This means that going back prior to its formation, you would see partial remnants of the information identity in any preceding ideas that might have been important. Furthermore, other pieces of information may be derived from your information identity but are combined with other information.

Once you begin to imagine information identities existing in 4D spacetime, it's hard not to start thinking of the whole world in terms of this construct.

Conclusion

Well, the point is that there is no conclusion. This site is my best attempt to catalog the bonkerfield of all the (useful) information contained in Will Stedden. If you take the information identity on this site with you and it informs your life, then you become a part of its bonkerfield. And bonkerfield becomes a part of you.