Chapter 6. Measuring the Quantity of Information

The science of information management continues to evolve, and most practitioners are working based on experience rather than hard metrics, making it difficult to solve problems that seem to consistently afflict enterprises the world over. In this situation, it is very important to discover if techniques sought from other branches of science can be applied to information management.

Long before computers were invented, physicists were working on complex systems that had many states through the study of thermodynamics. Each state could be thought of as being equivalent to coded information.

As with the application of graph theory to the subject, understanding the quantity of information in the way that physics analyses complex systems is of great value. With clear numeric measures on quantity, it becomes possible to analyze how much information is being applied to a given business objective and whether there is unused potential hidden in databases, documents, and spreadsheets.

A measure of quantity is particularly important in the context of the information economy, which must trade in data. In any transaction, currency is only meaningful if it is tied, in some way, to a quantity.


There are many definitions of information, which in itself suggests that information management professionals have a challenge establishing the principles consistently in business. One of the more succinct definitions has been suggested ...

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