The nature of information

© 2001 Paul Cooijmans


This analysis of information into types is based on the information processing modes of the brain; The types of informational content correspond to modes of processing.


Information, as published via multimedia like the Internet, television, D.V.D., and computer software, can be divided into visual and auditory content.

Visual information can be divided into textual and pictorial content.

Textual information can be divided into words with loosely defined meaning and flexible syntax on the one hand, and numbers and formal language with exactly defined meaning and rigid syntax on the other hand.

Pictorial information can be divided into concrete and abstract content.

Auditory information can be divided into speech, music and concrete sound.

Below is a schematic chart of this analysis, with estimated values for the relative weight each type of content appears to have. These estimates are educated personal guesses and not essential to the analysis.

Information analyzed into types according to processing modes.

Explanation of the types of content

Words make up language used between humans, like prose and poetry.

Numbers and formal language are used in arithmetic, math, formal logic, computer programming and the like.

Concrete pictorial content depicts recognizable objects or organisms from the real world. For example: photo's, drawings, video, animation.

Abstract pictorial content is anything visual that is not textual or concrete pictorial. Layout of text and images is an abstract pictorial aspect, as are abstract images in their own right.

Speech is the auditory equivalent of textual content.

Concrete sound is any recognizable real-world sound other than understandable speech. For example: bird song, the wind, footsteps.

Music is any sound that is not speech or concrete sound.