In his unpublished book “A General Theory of Value”, architect Michael Benedikt argues for a information-theoretic account of value, defining value as follows:
The theory of value offered in this book revolves around three propositions: first, that positive value is attributed to that which preserves or creates more life; second, that “lifefulness” is characterized by a particular quantity and combination of complexity and organization; and third, that in the case of human societies and minds, achieving this optimal quantity and combination of complexity and organization depends on the quality and flow of information among people, and between people and their less-animate environment—plants, animals, buildings, places, things.
It is fascinating that the things that are alive and the products of these lives obtain the highest calculated value of “complexity and organization”.
In order to begin to quantify value, a measurement of the complexity and a measurement of the organization of an entity or system is required. It is worth noting that “not organized” does not mean “complex”, nor does “not complex” mean “organized”. Thus complexity and organization are independent of one another.
Above I have schematized Benedikt’s “Ω Plane”, which consists of two axes, organization and complexity, ranging from disorganized (chaotic) to organized, and simple to complex. “Δ Ω” is simply the measure of the increase in both complexity and organization, and points the way to “value”.
Generously, Benedikt has made his unpublished book available on his web site for all to read.
Michael Benedikt / A General Theory of Value (unpublished)
A good resource for reading about information:
Also see Cesar Hidalgo’s excellent “Why Information Grows”.
Cesar Hidalgo / Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies