"'Information,' the difference that makes a difference"

Image: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by mandiberg

Linked by Alex Soojun-Kim Pang - @askpang on Twitter - it turns out that the word "information" has become so big, so problematic, that the Oxford English Dictionary felt the need to push it up its to-do list. But

The renovation has turned a cottage into a palace. Information, n., now runs 9,400 words, the length of a novella. It is a sort of masterpiece—an adventure in cultural history. A century ago 'information' did not have much resonance. It was a nothing word. 'An item of training; an instruction.' Now (as people have been saying for fifty years) we are in the Information Age. Which, by the way, the OED defines for us in its dry-as-chili-powder prose: 'the era in which the retrieval, management, and transmission of information, esp. by using computer technology, is a principal (commercial) activity.'

There's a lot to be said for thoroughness, but isn't it ironic that in an age defined by the term, the authority on its place in English should need 9,400 words to express its meaning? In contrast, check out this brief definition: "Information is the difference that makes a difference" from the late British anthropologist Gregory Bateson.

Wayne