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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Shawn Steiner at 12:31PM   |  6 comments

Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '13, FLEFF Intern, Elkridge, MD

Imagine that before you leave for work your roommate says that he/she is going to make soup for dinner. You get excited wondering what kind and mentally prepare yourself for the meal. But, when you arrive at home you find a series of bowls on the counter. One has broth, one has chicken, one has noodles, etc…

That’s not soup. That’s data.

Now, because you are starving you elect to just compile the ingredients yourself. Now you are looking at a nice, steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup. That’s information.

Evan Meaney and Amy Szczepanski with their project Null_Sets took on the idea of data versus information. What is what? And is it really?

So, if we look at this analogy of data and information and look at Null_Sets we can make some comparisons. 

The project takes the text as data and converts it into a jpeg image file. Simple enough concept. The text must be data and the image is the information.

Wait. The original text is a book. Isn’t that information? It takes words and creates meaning with them. It seems to be both.

Now, the jpeg image must still be information, right?

But what if you could re-process the image and convert it back into the original text document? Wouldn’t that make it data?

It seems that data and information are very difficult terms to use properly. It also seems very situational.

But, another question is what is the original data?

Is it the 26 letters that make up the alphabet? So wouldn’t everything written be a derivative of that data. So everything isn’t quite as original as we thought.

Is everything a copy? Is everything data? Is everything information? 

What do you think?

Stay tuned for Part 2, written by fellow blogger Erica Moriarty.


This is such an interesting project, and a super intriguing question to investigate. Based off of what both you and Erica have described, for me, data becomes information when you understand it. As data, it may not be helpful, but once someone understands what the data means, then it can be used and stored as useful information. Can't wait to read your interview with the artists!

I agree with the fact that this is truly a puzzling question to fathom. This is something I had never thought about and make the words "data" and "information" synonymous in my vocabulary.

Who knew there was so much philosophy behind technology!?
I can't wait to hear what the artists have to say!

hey y'all

major thanks to Erica and Shawn for this write up. Dr. Z has prompted me to post a little bit more about the use of blogging as it relates to film and media events, naturally i'm all about it.

first of all, i sort of hate the term social media. all media is social. there have been a lot of terms which get thrown around for how we use immediate-mass-communication, and most of them fall pretty flat. but i really like this sort of scattershot. mostly because it takes pressure off of the writer.

when we compose letters and newspaper articles we should strive for fully
FORMED ideas. we should present these ideas with the respect they deserve. but blogs and twitter and fb and et al et al et al ad infinitum are so special because you can toss out FORMING ideas to the public, allowing for the discussion to evolve with others. true, this breaks down authorship (which, let's be honest, is dying anyway) but it allows for things to be imperfect and grow into use. together.

i know that sounds sort of like the end of a kids tv show about sharing, but i stand by it. glitches are conversation starters, not ending statements. i can't wait to get there and form a bunch of conversations with y'all, both online and IRL, all of us chirping out and chiming in with imperfect bits until we have a collage of something pretty rad.

keep posting. keep glitching.


Really great post, Shawn! And very insightful comments about glitches as conversation starters, Evan! I'm looking forward to reading more about responses to Null_Sets.

Thanks Evan for the insights! I know I sometimes struggle with making my blog sound like a fully formed idea in order to avoid ambiguity. Can't wait to meet you in April!

Thanks Evan once again for talking with me and for your insightful comment. Really helps bring our blogs together for one idea. Can't wait to meet you!

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