Flatulent musing: does the information in data storage operate its own metaphysical anatomy?

(LOL at the title! As if I have never done such thing before…)

Going straight to the point, the answer is: yes, it does.

When I say data storage, I am alluding to any entities that store information. Paper, wood, stone, magnetic tapes, optic discs, flash memories, anything! When I say ‘information’, I am alluding to not only numerical data and objective facts, but also hypotheses, lies, emotions and even fictional worldbuilding!

If the ‘info’ does not confine itself to a definite time, space or mindset, then I think its actuality is solely corporeal; its size is strictly limited by the tangible containment. But, if given its own temporal, spatial and contexts, the ‘info’ may also belong to an entirely metaphysical realm; its size is unaffected by the size of the containment.

What counts as temporally, spatially and mentally unspecific ‘info’? For me, it includes mathematical formulas, empirical facts, trivial opinions and theories. ‘Clear sky is blue’ irrefutably counts as an empirical fact. ‘Blue cheese is disgusting’ irrefutably counts a trivial opinion. What about theories? Aren’t they just theories?

Contrary to popular belief, a theory is not a speculation. In natural sciences, it is an elucidation of natural phenomena which has gone through a multitude of rigorous scientific scrutinies. In social sciences and humanities, it is a mindfully-constructed paradigm that bequeaths us a frame of reference about human phenomena which intangibility hinder us from definitively deciphering them. Just like mathematical formulas, they are the foundations of human knowledge. Timeless and unbounded by fixed settings.

Now, what counts as temporally, spatially and mentally specific ‘info’? For me, it includes conjectures, hypotheses, histories, memories and fictional worldbuilding.

Even though they look indistinguishable on the surface, hypotheses and conjectures are actually distinct from one another. The former are well-thought-out, based on some evidences, used to commence further enquiries and, ideally, free from biases. The latter, on the other hand, are entirely affected by personal biases and often senselessly treated as absolute closures.

Both, however, are similar in that they take aim at natural and human phenomena which are always time and space specific. But, considering how hypotheses are integral aspects of knowledge exploration, they have a place in the physical and metaphysical worlds. As conjectures are not concerned about amplifying our horizons, they only belong in the metaphysical world.

I put histories in this category because not only they are bound by time and space, they are also influenced by how historians and so-called historians interpret the evidences. Whether the interpretations are sound or shamelessly one-sided, they are inherently influenced by our ways of thinking.

I am not sure how I should categorise numerical data, falsehood and emotions. Numerical data, despite being mathematical, is also bound to specific time and places. Falsehood and emotions, despite being intangible, are directly affected by how we perceive reality.

Okay, I know I sound inconsistent this whole time. I keep claiming how ‘infos’ that are not restricted by space cannot be metaphysical. Basically, I sound like I am making an antithesis to my own (so-called) hypothesis. I may as well claim cheese is not dairy because its main ingredient is milk.

Of course, I have to remind you, dear non-existing readers, and myself, a forgetful pseudo-intellectual, that my absurd postulation is comprehensible in the context of data storage. That is the main source of pretentiousness here and I keep stalling from talking about it. Now, I will discuss it by using examples:

Example 1

Let’s imagine you have one thick book and one small flash drive. The book is the complete issue of War and Peace while the drive has the digital copy of the entire novel. Obviously, one is physically bigger than the other. But, metaphysically, they are of similar dimension.

The novel itself contains a world of its own. It portrays the 1812 French invasion of Russia through the author’s own perspective (who interacted with the people who actually lived through it), it is loaded with philosophical discussions and it has hundreds of characters, each has the ability to his/her unique individual sub-story. It is one gigantic metaphysical world to offer.

A physical book needs over a thousand pages to chronicle the story. A digital copy can be saved inside a digital storage slightly bigger than a medicinal capsule. It shows no matter how big it is, if the technology is adequate, it can fit into even the smallest storage.

Example 2

Now, imagine we have two sheets of A4 paper. Obviously, it is impossible to determine which is physically bigger. But, we can determine which one is metaphysically so.

If one sheet contains nothing but mathematical formulas and the other contains a statistical study, the latter is obviously bigger. Mathematical formulas’ universality do not make them solely attached to certain worldly occurences and therefore, they do not bring any metaphysicality with them.

Every statistical study is inevitably attached to the specific occurrences each of them is established from. Everywhere they go, those studies bear incorporeality that represents those occurrences. If each statistical study covers one million lives, then one sheet paper that contains the study has bigger metaphysicality than a million sheets of C1 papers that offer nothing but formulas. Oh, and don’t forget the possible biases of the researchers who probably skew their samples.

Even when two ‘info’s have comparable physical weights, the density of their content makes their metaphysical weights drastically differ from one another.

Example 3

It is similar to the previous one. Yes, there are more. Just grin and bear it.

You are holding one of your school year books (just pretend I know the typical content of year books). It includes one class photo that features you, your classmates and one of your teachers and thirty of individual photos of each student. The class photo has more metaphysical weight than all of those individual student photos combined.

Those thirty photos represent thirty stories, one for each student. That one class photo represents more than thirty one. Besides the ones from individual students and the teacher, we should account stories of interpersonal relationships of its occupants.

By himself/herself, the teacher adds thirty interpersonal stories; I mean, he/she is the teacher. Then, assuming each student interacts with at least one classmate, they add thirty more. So far, the photo already has ninety-one possible stories.

Even some loners such as myself were able to interact with at least three classmates in each class. Obviously, most students in the photo would interact with more than three. It is conceivable the number of interpersonal stories may surpasses nine hundreds.

Oh, and I am grossly incompetent in mathematics. In all likelihood, your own calculation is more precise than mine.

Example 4

Just imagine there are one relief, one painting and one photograph in front of you. Each depicts a city’s bustling daily life. Which one has the biggest metaphysics? The answer is it can be all three. Each represents the creator’s personal bias about the city.

But, sculptures and paintings depict their subjects decoratively, unlike photographs which depict theirs in a true to life manner. Shouldn’t that mean photographs don’t have strong metaphysics? Well, they do have it if they are shot artistically.

Just like sculptors and painters, art photographers also have methodical, creative processes and clear visions about what their works should be about. They determine the camera angles, the lighting and the colour palettes. In the end, artistic photographs are also deliberately created to suit their creators’ biases. If the photographers are not artistic, then it is a different story.

Considering how casual photographers’ sole agenda is to capture the moments, the resulting photos only exhibit real life stories. They are devoid of any deliberately-placed slants. They don’t have biases to strengthen the metaphysics.

Example 5

Let’s just say I have two flash drives. One is filled with two of my best college papers: one is for an Indonesian studies class and the other is for a philosophy one. The other drive is filled with personal, pontificating writings AKA most my blogs which there are over a hundred of them. Which drive possesses the bigger metaphysicality? It is the one with my college papers in it.

My college papers obviously discuss about real life issues. But, both are also studied through contemplative lenses. The thing about academic philosophical analyses is not only I have to propose well-reasoned, consistent and concise thoughts, I also have to take other individuals’ thinking in consideration, especially ones published in academic journals; if I know what I am doing, they can prove my thoughts’ intellectual validity.

A large chunk of my Indonesian studies paper, which discusses the collective mentality of Indonesian Muslims, is a critique of a published scholarly article which conclusions I fervently disagree with. While I commend his denouncement of extremism, I also condemn the author (such a harsh word, I know) for his black-and-white taxonomy of Indonesian Muslims and his anti-liberalism apologetics. This paper of mine contains the thoughts of not one but two individuals.

My philosophy paper has even a bigger metaphysicality. It discusses the pros and cons of refugees acceptance. Again, besides containing my thoughts, the paper also includes the thoughts of other individuals, seven to be exact; they consist of two media scholars, one sociologist, one moral philosopher and three ethicists who have interest ‘global ethics’. Their sound contributions to the discussions have the potentials to be the solutions for said crisis.

In total, those two papers alone represent the minds of nine different individuals. My tirading essays, on the other hand, only represent the mind of one single person. They are only concerned about manifesting my thoughts and feelings, unconcerned about others’ in fear theirs will be deviant against mine.

In the end, my college papers have wider metaphysical horizons than all of my personal essays combined.

Conclusion?

Well, not only I am far from ready to be a scholar, I am certain I have made every person who read this article in its entirety ends up hating certain words like ‘metaphysics’, ‘metaphysical’, ‘info’ and ‘thoughts’.

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Author: The Stammering Dunce

I write blogs. I love to act smarter than I really am and I pretend that my opinions are of any significance. Support me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=9674796

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