Re: Information

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Mon May 14 2001 - 17:38:13 BST

  • Next message: Robin Faichney: "Re: Information"

    Received: by id TAA16865 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Mon, 14 May 2001 19:06:44 +0100
    Date: Mon, 14 May 2001 17:38:13 +0100
    Subject: Re: Information
    Message-ID: <>
    References: <3AF804BF.18774.505BE1@localhost>; <> <3AFC51FB.28858.10E8C8E@localhost>
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
    Content-Disposition: inline
    User-Agent: Mutt/1.3.15i
    In-Reply-To: <3AFC51FB.28858.10E8C8E@localhost>; from on Fri, May 11, 2001 at 08:56:27PM -0500
    From: Robin Faichney <>
    Precedence: bulk

    On Fri, May 11, 2001 at 08:56:27PM -0500, wrote:
    > On 9 May 2001, at 12:50, Robin Faichney wrote:
    > > 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.
    > >
    > If something has no meaning, how can it communicate that which
    > was previously unknown?

    It can't. Information is not a particular thing whose attributes
    cannot conflict with one another -- "information", on the other hand,
    is a word that can be, and is, used in various ways, some of which are
    quite different from each other. Communication theory, as that term is
    normally, consensually used, is about the fundamentals of communication:
    what's required *before* meaning can be conveyed.

    > > 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.
    > >
    > But it ISN'T 'out there'; it is a function of the interrrelation between
    > the onserver and the observed, or the sender and the receiver, thus
    > if it has no 'in here' correlate, it can not have an 'out there' correlate,
    > either. You may dogmatically embrace a naive platonic
    > informational "form" if you wish, but the phenomenologically
    > informed know that it's not that simple, nor can it be so
    > simplistically reduced.

    Nobody is messing with your concept of information, Joe! But you should
    face up to the fact that there are other ways in which that word is used.
    Equivocation is unfortunate, but it's also a fact of life.

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

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon May 14 2001 - 19:10:24 BST