In both theoretical and everyday conceptualizations of the social world we posit idealized information orders.

Some variation on "information utopia" - one in which all knowledge and information is "where it should be" - shows up in several places in contemporary thought. By information utopia I mean a posited state of affairs in which all the actors possess all the information they need or want. Some examples:

  1. perfect markets
  2. adversarial truth tribunals in which motivated actors have access to some sort of "discovery" by which they can compel the revelation of relevant information from other participants
  3. marketplace of ideas
  4. the public square
  5. science
  6. one's own mind (then Freud showed us not so fast…)
  7. the internet
  8. omniscient gods

Each has an implicit standard of what "everybody knows" means and a mechanism for moving information around?


In computer programing we have the idea of a name space or the "scope" of a variable name. These refer to what parts of a program have access to what information. Suppose X is a variable that contains the value of a temperature reading made by a device in some part of the code on that device. Depending on how the code is written and the rules of the programing language, the use of "X" in some places in the code will refer to this temperature data. In other places it will not.

Most programing languages allow for the creation of "global variables" which have the property of being accessible by any part of the code.