Infermation : A New Concept

My tracking software tells me that a reader from Bangalore arrived here this morning from a google search for cricles and infermation. After a chuckle at the misspellings, I was intrigued by the fact that one of my posts was the second search result until I noticed that I’d engaged in a bit of SEOing by introducing the same typo into that post’s title last February :”Notificational Webs in Cricles of Friends“.

More importantly, though, this little bit of synergistic finger slippage has led me to (collaboratively, I’d have to say) formulate a new concept: infermation.

What is “infermation”? All that I know about the world that is neither from direct experience nor from reports from trusted sources, but is implied by all that stuff when operated on by whatever tools of logic and entailment I have at hand. These of course, will be context dependent (framing) and “mood” dependent (am I feeling hyper-rational just now?) and so on. Gives us a nice taxonomy of “my world”: experience based information, received information, a set of inferential tools, and all of my “infermation.”

Still lots to work out on this (and some hard thinking to do about what existing concepts it recapitulates) but it looks promising. So, thanks to that provocative mis-typer on the other side of the world.

Author: Dan Ryan

I'm currently an Academic Program Director at I've been a professor at University of Toronto, University of Southern California, and Mills College teaching things like human centered design, computational thinking, modeling for policy sciences, and social theory. I'm driven by the desire to figure out how to teach twice as many twice as well twice as easily.

2 thoughts on “Infermation : A New Concept”

  1. From Marc Joseph on Facebook: “Does infermation include only consequences you've drawn explicitly (as suggested by “whatever I have at hand”), or does it also include inferences you're disposed to draw, if you're prompted? What about those inferences you'd draw in idealized conditions (i.e., you're not, in fact, disposed to draw them since they require, say, computing capacity beyond what you have, but were you to have that additional capacity etc.)?”

  2. Good questions all. My initial inclination was to think of it as a dynamic structure of all the “stuff” I take to be the case at the moment insofar as they have a practical potential to figure in the carrying out of any projects I might be up to. So I would let it be driven by my “projects” understood as “that which I take myself to be up to” and… See More so as my intention/attention wanders my stock of “infermation” waxes and wanes and shifts. Not sure how I'd treat recallable inferences — I don't think that everything that's ever been logically necessary for me still is. In fact, I know that some hard proofs are very tricky to hold onto, but that's another branch of the question that I don't think I want to climb out on.

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