[Fis] _comment to the "A Priori Modeling of Information"

Loet Leydesdorff loet at leydesdorff.net
Sun Jun 26 09:20:31 CEST 2016

As a first step in the specification of the relevance of Shannon's
engineering model for developing a theory of meaning, Weaver (1949, at p.
26) proposed two minor additions to Shannon's diagram of a communication
channel, as follows: 


"One can imagine, as an addition to the diagram, another box labeled
"Semantic Receiver" interposed between the engineering receiver (which
changes signals to messages) and the destination. This semantic receiver
subjects the message to a second decoding, the demand on this one being that
it must match the statistical semantic characteristics of the message to the
statistical semantic capacities of the totality of receivers, or of that
subset of receivers which constitute the audience one wishes to affect. 

Similarly one can imagine another box in the diagram which, inserted between
the information source and the transmitter, would be labeled "semantic
noise," the box previously labeled as simply "noise" now being labeled
"engineering noise." From this source is imposed into the signal the
perturbations or distortions of meaning which are not intended by the source
but which inescapably affect the destination. And the problem of semantic
decoding must take this semantic noise into account." 



cid:image003.png en 01D1CF8B.1F207680


Figure 1: Weaver's (1949) "minor" additions penciled into Shannon's (1948)
original diagram.


Since the "semantic receiver" recodes the information in the messages
(received from the "engineering receiver" who only changes signals into
messages) while having to assume the possibility of "semantic noise," a
semantic relationship between the two new boxes can also be envisaged. Given
Shannon's framework, however, this relation cannot be considered as another
information transfer-since semantics are defined as external to Shannon's
engineering model. 


Semantics are not based on specific communications, but on relations among
patterns of relations or, in other words, correlations. In the case of a
single relation, the relational distance is not different from the
correlational one; but in the case of relations involving three (or more)
agents, the distances in the vector space are different from the Euclidean
distances in the network space. In a triplet, the instantiation of one or
the other relation can make a difference for the further development of the
triadic system of relations. 


A system of relations can be considered as a semantic domain (Maturana,
1978). In other words, the sender and receiver are related in the graph of
Figure 1, while they are correlated in terms of not necessarily instantiated
relations in the background. The structure of correlations provides a latent
background that provides meaning to the information exchanges in relations.
The correlations are based on the same information, but the representation
in the vector space is different from the graph in the network space of
observable relations. 


In other words, meaning is not added to the information, but the same
information is delineated differently and considered from a different
perspective (including absent relations; i.e., zeros in the distribution).
As against Shannon-type information which flows linearly from the sender to
the receiver, one can expect meanings to loop, and thereby, to develop
next-order dimensionalities. New meanings generate new options and thus
redundancy. In my opinion, the task is to specify mechanisms which generate
redundancy (cf. Leydesdorff & Ivanova, 2014).


Source: 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 and Inga A. Ivanova, Mutual Redundancies in Inter-human
Communication Systems: Steps Towards a Calculus of Processing Meaning
<http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.6849> , Journal of the Association for
Information Science and Technology 65(2) (2014) 386-399.



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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