Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cleveland's 7 Characteristics of Information

     Harlan Cleveland developed seven characteristics of information: human, expandable, compressible, substitutable, transportable, diffusive and sharable. Information can come from people, scientific data, art/pictures, storytelling, cultures, music, books, etc. The word information is derived from the Latin word “informare” meaning to give form to the mind.

      Many people believe that information is human because only humans can communicate with one another. This theory is arguable because animals can also communicate with each other by the use of sounds and movement. This is proven by the “dancing” of honey bees. For more information click on the following link for more information in bee communication Several people argue that instead of information being human, it should be referred to as mental.

     Information can be expandable. As a child I thought that the only way to get food was from a restaurant drive-thru or a microwave or my mother. As I grew older and had to prepare my own meals, my knowledge of food and food preparation expanded greatly. Food can even be prepared by using liquid nitrogen! As much as information can be expanded, it can also be compressed. Cliff notes® are a perfect example of how a novel or book can be condensed into less than half the amount of pages.

     Information can be substitutable in many ways. One way is through labor. My uncle worked at a factory on an assembly line for many years. With recent technological developments, his job is now done by a machine. According to Cleveland, information is transportable. I totally agree with this statement because as a public relations major, being able to get information to the public is extremely important. With the use of social media and the Internet, information can be transported in seconds.

     Identity theft is a common occurrence in today's society. This confirms Cleveland's diffusive characteristic of information. This characteristic reminds me of being in high school and how if someone told one person something, the whole school knew the next day. Information rarely stays clandestine, especially with the Internet, cell phones, and e-mail. Relating to being diffusive, information is also sharable.  Information can be keep to ourselves, but if one of my girlfriends would like to know how to make a recipe I brought to a dinner party, I can share it with her.  Although I share the information with her, I will still have the information and know how to make the recipe.  Just because information is sharable, does not mean that it is lost once it is shared. 

     Information is the fastest growing thing on the planet and most people don't realize how much information they receive and is being developed annualy.


  1. Amanda, it is such a joy reading your posts! You are an excellent writer and will be great in public relations. I like how you don't just summarize what was said in class or in the article. Instead, you expand on it with personal reflections or your own examples. Your diffusive example of high school gossip spreading is a great one. This lets me know you really grasped these concepts. Just change these few things:

    Since you're listing them, change the semi-colon to a colon after "information," so it reads:
    "Harlan Cleveland developed seven characteristics of information: human, expandable,..."

    Add an "s" after "animal" so it's plural (This theory is arguable because animals...)

    "Once a person hears about or develops a new idea, they tell someone else, whether it is for their benefit or someone else's."---Reword this since it's not a given that all ideas are automatically shared with other people. For instance, I can have an idea and keep it to myself and never utter a word.
    What the article was trying to convey was that information can't be exchanged as a "this for that" transaction. Even if money passed hands, the person with the original idea, story, etc. will still have that information. He/she never loses it. It is just shared by two people.

    Delete the "d" in "realized" in the last sentence.

    Well done!

  2. Nice work! I like the recipe sharing example, too.

    Just fix "keep" to "kept" and "share" to "shared":
    Information can be kept to ourselves, but if one of my girlfriends would like to know how to make a recipe I brought to a dinner party, I can share it with her.

    Although I shared the information with her, I will still have the information and know how to make the recipe.