The prominence and precision that the ideas of structure, measure, and reduction to elementary particles had attained in atomic physics in Thomson's time have left a deep impression on the common understanding of information. The electron, like the letter, turned out to be a model for the analysis and synthesis of information. The bit of information is a measure of information space, and by itself the number of bits of a set of signs tells nothing about whether or how the space has been filled with content. “Bits of information” has a broad generic meaning that is as useful in discussions of information technology as it is treacherous in discussions of contemporary culture.
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