When we look at a piece of information, we often do not see what it took to generate it. I believe such information about a piece of information is essential in many cases. For instance, an email could be looked as an original composition, or a reply to another email. On a social Q&A site such as Yahoo! Answers, a piece of information could be a question (original), or an answer (response to a question).
I propose a model of information that identifies information as a derivative. Here is my proposal for the information derivatives.
- 0th derivative. This is a piece of original and individual information. For instance, an original poem composed by an individual.
- 1st derivative. This information is what is obtained by adding to an original piece of information by another individual. For instance, Stacy uploads a picture that she took at a birthday party on Facebook (0th derivative), in which Mark tags people. This tagged photo is now a 1st derivative information.
- 2nd derivative. When a group of connected individuals create a piece of information, it is the 2nd derivative of the original information. For instance, in the above example, once the photo that Stacy uploaded (0th derivative) got tagged by Mark (1st derivative), others in Stacy’s social network could see that information and start commenting on that photo. These comments are also seen by everyone in Stacy’s network. Every time anyone posts a comment to that picture, everyone that is tagged in it gets notified.
- nth derivative. When individuals and different groups interconnect and go back and forth influencing a piece of information and keep generating new information through that interaction, that I would call nth derivative of the information.
The model proposed here is still evolving and by no means complete.