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The making of ephemeria: on the shortening life spans of information

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Information results from observing and recording (and making) facts whose value is a function of the novelty they convey. Despite its frequent association with knowledge, information is not concerned with lasting truths or statements that have enduring value but with transient facts that recount details of a world in a perpetual move. Information can be used to build up knowledge and it emerges as information against the background of what is (un)known but is distinct from knowledge. The most vivid example of the role of information in contemporary life is provided by stock markets and the news that enters them in the form of price changes, constantly in a need of updating. The importance of capturing the numerable and transient details underlying contemporary life, with the view of using them to inform action, is intrinsic to modern institutions. However, such an importance has acquired rising momentum, thanks to the growing economic and social involvement of the technologies of information and communication and the unprecedented amount of information they capture and circulate. Thus viewed, technological information is both an expression of the predisposition that late modern societies and economies exhibit towards the present and a fundamental vehicle though which such a predisposition becomes socially embedded.

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