Information & Communication are Fundamental

That information and communication are fundamental properties and behaviours of the universe, human and cosmic, has kinda been part of my worldview since I started this blogging project, but it’s one of those “facts” that becomes ever more clearly defined. And I don’t believe it’s just the self-reinforcement of echo-chamber and confirmation-bias. If anything, it’s a view I hold despite not many others who admit to holding.

My most recent confirmations, in just the last couple of weeks, are here;
Valuing Difference (human, cultural, political) and here,
Rovelli’s Quantum Loop Gravity (cosmic, physical, metaphysical)
Significant Bits are the fundaments of the entire universe.

A recurring web-meme is people posting “Maslow’s Pyramid” (*) of human needs, with internet connection (technology, apps and/or power, whatever) as an additional foundation layer.

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It’s so wrong, it’s right or maybe vice-versa. I love it and loath it all at once.

The pyramid itself has been regularly subject to debunking and re-habilitation many times. I happen to hold it as capturing some important generic truths, even though as a simple-picture-painting-a-thousand-words it is (obviously) subject to much debate about details and contexts of applicability [see the (*) footnote].

Today Erin Noonan posted the above version on Facebook, and I was moved to respond (expanded and clarified here for the blog context):

I love this meme, because it is so wrong.
Couldn’t be more wrong.

WiFi (connectivity in the world) has to be the biggest “proof” that the rest of the pyramid (based on Maslow’s work) is 100% right – complete AND consistent.

Communication runs right through the pyramid. It’s not just an additional foundation layer in the direction of the human motivation axis. It’s independent of, and fundamental to the whole fabric of the pyramid (and everything else) from a completely orthogonal direction

So working up from the bottom of the pyramid:

Physiological – The air we breath to be able to talk and listen, is our most basic communication, not to mention the other physical senses and signalling.

Safety & Security – Protecting our physical well-being from threats also depends being able to communicate, whether it’s interpersonal (having friends check on each other or hit the alarm when threats are perceived) or institutional (who ya gonna call, 999 / 911 / 112 in emergencies).

Social Needs – The term social-media says it all.

Esteem – The fact social media runs on likes and follows, feeds our own extrinsic social worth back to us.

Self-Actualisation – The enabling power of electronic media, social or otherwise means that we’re can all be creators of intrinsic value now, whether blogging communications for their own sake or doing so as part of some other creative enterprise.

It’s no coincidence that an important feature of the pyramid of drivers is that they do indeed range from the most basic physical to the most conceivably creative.


(*) The “pyramid” is of course a 2D triangle and it’s not actually Maslow’s. But apart from that, it’s simply the evolved result of scholars of behaviour and management summarising Maslow’s work. If you ever pin down an original source, I’d like to hear from you. As something I value, I have maintained and updated my own piece on it’s current state in the world, here.

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