What Colour Are Your Bits



As an engineer, its easy to conceptualize information as bits and believe that everything can be reduced to said bits. What Colour Are Your Bits? is a fantastic essay that explains why this isn't true through the analogy of color.

The central claim: identical bits can have different colors (some property that is not captured by the bits) even when bits themselves do not have color.

An example that the essay uses is random numbers - while there is no difference, bit wise, from a set of numbers that is generated at random vs a set of numbers that are not, the means in which they were generated give each set a different color.

I think a lot of what is said about the color of bits can also apply to knowledge and the internalizing of knowledge. Identical knowledge (facts about the world) can have different colors - these colors come from how that knowledge was obtained.

The knowledge obtained from reading a fact has a different color than the same fact when it is recorded, and is colored differently yet again when it is experienced first hand. Not all knowledge is equal even when it is identical - the difference between information and wisdom lies in the coloring.