Re: Information

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Wed May 09 2001 - 12:50:40 BST

  • Next message: Wade T.Smith: "Re: Information"

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    Subject: Re: Information
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    In-Reply-To: <3AF804BF.18774.505BE1@localhost>; from on Tue, May 08, 2001 at 02:37:51PM -0500
    From: Robin Faichney <>
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    On Tue, May 08, 2001 at 02:37:51PM -0500, wrote:
    > On 5 May 2001, at 13:30, Robin Faichney wrote:
    > > So what do you think of the use of "information" in communication
    > > theory? Is that all wrong too? Are you the only one that's in step?
    > >
    > There is code, carrier and message in information theory, and the
    > code encodes some semantic content (the message) in a medium
    > of exchange (the carrier). It is sent by a sender and received by a
    > rerceiver. The message is the way a sender INFORMS a receiver
    > of a particular semantic content (the message) sent via a particular
    > action/perception medium (the carrier) and using a commonly
    > understood code. The person not commonly understanding both
    > the premisis and consequences of information theory is you, Robin.

            information theory: The study of information by mathematical
            methods. Informally, information can be considered as the extent
            to which a message conveys what was previously unknown, and so is
            new or surprising. Mathematically, the rate at which information
            is conveyed from a source is identified with entropy of the
            source (per second or per symbol). Although information theory
            is sometimes restricted to the entropy formulation of sources
            and channels, it sometimes includes coding theory, in which
            case the term is used synonymously with communication theory.
            [Dictionary of Computing, Oxford Science Publications, 1986]

    All of the techniques of communication theory apply to any stream of
    symbols regardless of their meaning, or even if they have none. All that
    is required of each "symbol" (you might think that word inappropriate
    if it has no meaning, but that doesn't matter) is that it have some
    particular probability of occurring.

    Like "symbol", "information" is just a word that can be used any way
    anyone wants to use it, assuming only that it serves their communicative
    needs. My needs connect with those of the communication theorists.
    Yours apparently don't.

    But in any case, to try to be dogmatic about definitions is futile.
    And to imagine ontological arguments where there are really only semantic
    and methodological ones is ridiculous. To say "there is no information
    'out there'" is practically meaningless. Whether it can be useful to
    treat material structure as if it were information could be a worthwhile
    argument. But you're too busy insisting "there is no information 'out
    there'" to take part in it.

    Robin Faichney
    Get your Meta-Information from
    (CAUTION: contains philosophy, may cause heads to spin)

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