Records emerge in communities made up by autonomous agents, with limited memory capacities and in need of mutual coordination. To overcome such limitations of their memories and achieve effective coordination acts, such as contracts or agreements, agents need to set informations, definitions, ideas and meanings, in a way external to themselves and to their memories.
To achieve that, agents use records, physical systems whose state they may change. They define a convention that establishes two rule types. The first rule type defines how to modify a record's state starting from an information, a definition, an idea, etc., in order for the record to represent it. The second rule type defines how to interpret the information, definition, idea, etc., that the author had the intention to record, from the state of that record.
In human communities and given the fact that with very simple elements it is feasible to produce an overwhelming amount of states (for example, a sheet of paper with a pencil), conventions must reduce the allowed states to a very limited fraction of all feasible states. Generally, then, languages used are based on finite alphabets, words and grammars; and texts are written sequentially, and in parallel lines or rows, either vertically or horizontally, from left to right or in the opposite direction.
Records may be stable and have a long duration, as with books and CDs, or they may last only for short periods of time, as is the case of two persons chatting verbally. This conversation is performed interchanging auditive records, perturbations in the state of the air in which both persons are immersed. When a large number of records accumulate, they need organization and classification to make sure they are useful. This requirement is the basis of the Library and Information Systems sciences.
Records are not the same as information. They may represent it, but they are not information. The same information may be represented with many different record types. If all records representing a given information are destroyed, that information does not dissipate, it only gets more difficult (or infeasible) to access it.
A record may be false or true; exact or less exact; precise or less precise; valid or not valid. However, an information, taken as an abstract object, free of any representation form, is always true, exact, precise and valid.
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Roberto Gejman (20/8/2009)
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