The field of information theory, first pioneered by Claude Shannon in 1948 while working at Bell Labs, deals with the ability to transmit information (messages) over noisy channels, and the probabilities of being able to recreate the original message. This communication is commonly considered in the realm of transmitting messages over media to different locations, such as over wires from one location to another, by radio waves such as for Wi-Fi, etc. All taking place in what could be called a spatial domain.

However, it is important to also consider that there is another medium through which we transmit information, and that is time. This can be as simple as writing a note on paper. We encode the information into text, and store it on paper. At some later time, we retrieve that information. This information is subject to degradation over time - ink fades, coffee is spilled, our original “encoding” is flawed due to our bad handwriting, or even our thinking. Another scenario might be saving a file to a disk, which is then put on a shelf as a backup. Some years later, thanks to fading magnetic fields or electrical charges, physical changes, or chemical changes, the information is subject to degradation. Thus, information transmission through time is subject to degradation just as information transmission through space.

While there are testing methods for information transmission through spatial and temporal domains, and tests for how the information degrades, the revelation for me was thinking about information transmission not only through space, but also through time.

This relates, somewhat tangentially, to another area of interest, which is how we (humans) acquire and transmit knowledge. We seek out information related to some subject, distill it down into its essence, make novel connections between these concepts and our preexisting concepts, then write this preexisting and new information back out in a form to be transmitted through time. This process is then repeated by our reader - take in the information, distill it down into its essence, make connections with existing knowledge, etc. I wonder how this process can be improved? How can be use text and images to convey the information through time so that the knowledge graph (linked concepts) that resides in the author’s mind can be recreated in the receiver’s mind?