As I said in a previous post, I believe it originated in unpublished work of mine in which I thought that MacKay had said this, but it appears that it was interpretation of what he thought. I apologize for the confusion. It is very remarkable that it has been disseminated so widely. Had I published the work, I probably would have checked the references. Beware of citing unfinished work.

John

At 05:31 PM 2013/04/15, Bob Logan wrote:
 "Information is a distinction that makes a difference"
The location of this quote is a mystery - there are 43 references to it including Wikipedia, Floridi, Sommaruga, Chapman, Burgin, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Collier, Brier

The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Computing and Info





I cannot find the original location of the quote. They all say MacKay 1969 and give no page and some say text not found.

From StanfordThe formulation usually attributed to Mackay [1969] (yet not to be found in that text) — that is, “information is a distinction that makes a difference” — predates Bateson's but it is slightly different from it in that, by speaking of “distinction” instead of “difference”, it has an epistemological rather than an ontological twist. A “difference” (a “distinction”) is just a discrete state, namely a datum, and “making a difference” simply means that the datum is “meaningful”, at least potentially.


David Chapman wrote on http://www.intropy.co.uk/2011/01/distinction-that-makes-difference.htmlThursday , 13 January 2011




The distinction that makes a difference



Apparently Donald Mackay defined information as the distinction that makes a difference, which is similar to, though less memorable than, Bateson's "The difference that makes a difference".

I can't find it in Mackay's main work on information - "Information, Mechanism and Meaning" (MIT Press 1969) - or any other publications of Mackay's that I've seen so far, though I can believe it accords with his understanding of information.

If anyone knows the origin of the phrase, please let me know.
Posted by David Chapman at 10:48 []
Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook
Labels: Bateson, Mackay
On 2013-04-14, at 5:10 AM, Wolfgang Hofkirchner wrote:

dear xueshan,

when i was at the dtmd conference 2 years ago, the organisers of the conference, magnus and david, and me already talked about that because i contended that mackay was first with a similar saying. i referred to luciano floridi, but floridi did not provide the exact reference. magnus and david had looked through the book in question and showed it to me but we did not find the quote.

john collier and bob logan will also know something about it (they refer to katherine hayles).

i wrote about that in my book at p. 9, which i herewith would like to announce to all fisers!

wolfgang

+43 1 58801 18730 (no voicemail)

http://hofkirchner.uti.at/

<7805.cover 1 Kopie .pdf>












http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/7805#t=toc

Am 14.04.2013 um 10:52 schrieb Xueshan Yan:

Dear Pedro, Dear Joseph,

About the Milton Keynes Conference, i.e., about DTMD
definition, we saw this quote long long ago, but there two
different sayings: One is "Information is a distinction that
makes a difference" from Donald M. MacKay in his
"Information, Mechanism and Meaning" (1969), and another is
"Information is a difference that makes a difference" from
Gregory Bateson in his "Steps to an Ecology of Mind" (1972).

Although I have checked it page by page in Donald M.
MacKay's book but can't found it, whereas it is easy to find
"Information is a difference that makes a difference" in
Gregory Bateson's "Steps to an Ecology of Mind" at page 230,
361, 339, etc., who can tell the accurate priority about
DTMD?

Best wishes,

Xueshan
16:49, April 14, 2013   Peking University

-----Original Message-----
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Sent: Sunday, April 14, 2013 12:00 AM
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Subject: fis Digest, Vol 570, Issue 2

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Today's Topics:

 1. Re: FIS News (Moscow 2013) (joe.bren...@bluewin.ch)
 2. Re: FIS News (Moscow 2013) (PEDRO CLEMENTE MARIJUAN
FERNANDEZ)
 3. Re: FIS News (Moscow 2013) (Gyorgy Darvas)


------------------------------------------------------------
----------

Message: 1
Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2013 17:11:58 +0000 (GMT+00:00)
From: "joe.bren...@bluewin.ch" <joe.bren...@bluewin.ch>
Subject: Re: [Fis] FIS News (Moscow 2013)
To: <pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es>, <fis@listas.unizar.es>
Message-ID:
<15776686.90091365786718476.javamail.webm...@bluewin.ch>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"





Dear Pedro,

Glad to hear from you. Your silence was, of course,
expressive, containing much information . . .

Now all of us will be waiting impatiently to learn about
the
the new, exciting themes that were discussed at the Milton

Keynes Conference.

Best wishes,

Joseph

----Message d'origine----
De: pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es
Date: 12.04.2013 11:02
À: <fis@listas.unizar.es>
Objet: [Fis] FIS News (Moscow 2013)

Dear FIS Friends,

Apologies for my long silence. As I have already said
several
times, my science management duties are killing not only
my
time but also my nerve (well, not completely!). Imagine
what
is happening with the financing and organization of
Spanish
science these years...

Anyhow, a couple of good news about our common Information

Science endeavor. First, there has been an excellent
conference in Milton Keynes, organized by the Open
University, about Information ("the difference that makes
a
difference"). Quite exciting discussions on our most dear
themes, and some new ones that we have rarely addressed
here.
The organizers, a very active team indeed, are cordially
invited to lead a discussion session in our FIS list to
continue with the conceptual explorations addressed in
their
conference.

And the second news is about an imminent FIS CONFERENCE,
MOSCOW 2013, the Sixth FIS, and the 1st of the ISIS
organization. It will be held this May, from 21 to 24 in
Moscow. This time the Russian organizers have followed a
singular procedure, a relatively closed conference
centered
in the diffusion of information science in the Russian
scientific community.  At the time being, to my knowledge
(I
could not follow very well the process), only the members
of
the ISIS board have been enlisted as foreign participants.

But given that there will be several absences, interested
FIS
parties might ask about their possible participation. 
The schedule is too tight for travels, visas etc, and
again I
have to apologize for not having posted this info before
(info glut!). In any case, am sure that our colleague
Konstantin  Kolin ( koli...@mail.ru ), leading organizer,
and
member of the Russian Academy of Science, will be happy to

respond to interested parties and help them to accelerate
the process.

Best wishes to all

---Pedro

-------------------------------------------------
Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group Instituto
Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud Centro de Investigación
Biomédica de Aragón (CIBA) Avda. San Juan Bosco, 13,
planta X
50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Tfno. +34 976 71 3526 (&amp; 6818)
pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es
http://sites.google.com/site/pedrocmarijuan/
-------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________
fis mailing list
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Message: 2
Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2013 10:26:41 +0200
From: PEDRO CLEMENTE MARIJUAN FERNANDEZ
<pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es>
Subject: Re: [Fis] FIS News (Moscow 2013)
To: fis@listas.unizar.es
Message-ID: <fbefd0bc5440.51693...@aragon.es>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

Dear Joseph and FIS colleagues,

Thanks for the friendly message. Let me introduce you all
the
organizing team of the Open University conference: Magnus
Ramage, David Chapman, and Chris Bissell --they did a
great
job there and we are fortunate that they have joined our
list
too. As I invited them during the conference, they could
chair our next discussion session, in a few weeks or days
if
they wish. A short text of around 500 or 800 words with
some
focus in themes discussed at Milton Keynes would suffice
to
kick off the discussion. As other people have recently
joined
the list, all of them should remind our strict limitation
of
a maximum of two messages per week. This is a list
emphasizing "slow thinking" and scholarship.

By the way, my management experience during all these
months
has lead me to think and start work on a new theme: the
information flow in complex organizations. The properties
or
limits of natural communication (conversation) in our
social
groups determine the structural patterns of complex
bureaucratic organizations...  terrible committees
included!
Next weeks I will post more on that.

best wishes

--Pedro




----- Mensaje original -----
De: "joe.bren...@bluewin.ch" <joe.bren...@bluewin.ch>
Fecha: Viernes, 12 de Abril de 2013, 7:12 pm
Asunto: RE: [Fis] FIS News (Moscow 2013)
A: pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es, fis@listas.unizar.es <br>
<!--div.bwmail { background-color:#ffffff; font-family:
Trebuchet
MS,Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;
margin:0;
padding:0;}div.bwmail p { margin:0; padding:0;
}div.bwmail table {
font-family: Trebuchet MS,Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif;
font-size:
small; }div.bwmail li { margin:0; padding:0; }-->< Dear
Pedro,

Glad to hear from you. Your silence was, of course,
expressive, containing much information . . .

Now all of us will be waiting impatiently to learn about

the the new, exciting themes that were discussed at the
Milton Keynes Conference.

Best wishes,

Joseph

----Message d'origine----
De: pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es
Date: 12.04.2013 11:02
À: <fis@listas.unizar.es>
Objet: [Fis] FIS News (Moscow 2013)

Dear FIS Friends,

Apologies for my long silence. As I have already said
several times,
my science management duties are killing not only my
time
but also my
nerve (well, not completely!). Imagine what is happening
with the
financing and organization of Spanish science these
years...

Anyhow, a couple of good news about our common
Information Science
endeavor. First, there has been an excellent conference
in Milton
Keynes, organized by the Open University, about
Information ("the
difference that makes a difference"). Quite exciting
discussions on
our most dear themes, and some new ones that we have
rarely
addressed here.
The organizers, a very active team indeed, are cordially
invited to
lead a discussion session in our FIS list to continue
with the
conceptual explorations addressed in their conference.

And the second news is about an imminent FIS CONFERENCE,

MOSCOW 2013,
the Sixth FIS, and the 1st of the ISIS organization. It
will be held
this May, from 21 to 24 in Moscow. This time the Russian
organizers
have followed a singular procedure, a relatively closed
conference
centered in the diffusion of information science in the
Russian
scientific community.  At the time being, to my
knowledge
(I could not
follow very well the process), only the members of the
ISIS
board have
been enlisted as foreign participants. But given that
there will be
several absences, interested FIS parties might ask about

their possible participation.
The schedule is too tight for travels, visas etc, and
again
I have to
apologize for not having posted this info before (info
glut!). In any
case, am sure that our colleague Konstantin  Kolin (
koli...@mail.ru
), leading organizer, and member of the Russian Academy
of Science,
will be happy to respond to interested parties and help
them to
accelerate the process.

Best wishes to all

---Pedro

-------------------------------------------------
Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group Instituto

Aragonés de
Ciencias de la Salud Centro de Investigación Biomédica
de Aragón
(CIBA) Avda. San Juan Bosco, 13, planta X
50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Tfno. +34 976 71 3526 (& 6818)
pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es
http://sites.google.com/site/pedrocmarijuan/
-------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________
fis mailing list
fis@listas.unizar.es
https://webmail.unizar.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fis





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Message: 3
Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2013 12:28:45 +0200
From: Gyorgy Darvas <darv...@iif.hu>
Subject: Re: [Fis] FIS News (Moscow 2013)
To: joe.bren...@bluewin.ch, <pcmarijuan.i...@aragon.es>,
<fis@listas.unizar.es>
Message-ID: <201304131030.r3dauiat003...@ortiz.unizar.es>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

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______________________

Robert K. Logan
Chief Scientist - sLab at OCAD
Prof. Emeritus - Physics - U. of Toronto
www.physics.utoronto.ca/Members/logan







Professor John Collier                                     colli...@ukzn.ac.za
Philosophy and Ethics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041 South Africa
T: +27 (31) 260 3248 / 260 2292       F: +27 (31) 260 3031
Http://web.ncf.ca/collier
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