[Fis] _ Reply to Annette (A Priori Modeling)

Loet Leydesdorff loet at leydesdorff.net
Thu Jun 23 08:37:45 CEST 2016

Dear Bob, Stan and colleagues, 


The Shannon formula measures "capacity" for information, *not* information
itself. Consider the "snow" pattern on a TV without a signal. Its Shannon
measure is much higher than when a picture appears onscreen, yet we know
that the snow pattern carries no information.


The expected information of a message that an event has taken place can be
measured precisely in terms of bits of information using the Shannon
formulas. As Weaver noted (and Shannon was aware), this concept of
information (uncertainty) is counter-intuitive. It enables us among other
things to distinguish between "information" and "meaningful information". A
screen with noise carries maximal information, but this information is not


Providing Shannon-type information with meaning presumes the specification
of a system of reference; for example, an observer. Different from observed
information, expected information is yet dimensionless ("a priori"). The
analytical distinction between information processing and meaning processing
enables us also to specify (perhaps measure as redundancy) the different
meanings that can be provided to the same uncertainty by different systems
of reference. For example, the white noise on the screen may be unexpected
or not (since the antenna was not correctly plugged in).  


"The concept of information developed in this theory at first seems
disappointing and bizarre-disappointing because it has nothing to do with
meaning . I think, however, .  that this analysis has so penetratingly
cleared the air that one is now, perhaps for the first time, ready for a
real theory of meaning." (Weaver, 1949, p. 27)


In my opinion, a "real theory of meaning" should enable us to
specify/measure meaning as redundancy / reduction of uncertainty given
information as uncertainty. I took this further in: Loet Leydesdorff,
Alexander Petersen, and Inga A. Ivanova, The Self-Organization of Meaning
and the Reflexive Communication of Information.
<http://arxiv.org/abs/1507.05251>  Social Science Information (in press).





Loet Leydesdorff 

Professor, University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)

 <mailto:loet en leydesdorff.net> loet en leydesdorff.net ;
<http://www.leydesdorff.net/> http://www.leydesdorff.net/ 
Associate Faculty,  <http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/> SPRU, University of

Guest Professor  <http://www.zju.edu.cn/english/> Zhejiang Univ., Hangzhou;
Visiting Professor,  <http://www.istic.ac.cn/Eng/brief_en.html> ISTIC,

Visiting Professor,  <http://www.bbk.ac.uk/> Birkbeck, University of London;




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