Meaningless Information

“The fundamental problem of communications is that of reproducing at one point either exactly or approximately a message selected at another point. Frequently the message has meaning… these semantic aspects of communication are irrelevant to the engineering problem”–Claude Shannon, in Shannon and Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communications, 1963 [1949], p. 31.

“The word information, in this theory [which came to be known as “information theory”],  is used in a special sense that must not be confused with its ordinary usage. In particular, information must not be confused with meaning. In fact, two messages, one of which is heavily loaded with meaning and the other of which is pure nonsense, can be exactly equivalent, from the present viewpoint, as regards information”–Warren Weaver, in Shannon and Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communications, 1963 [1949], p.8

“For 50 years, the information revolution has centered on data – their collection, storage, transmission, analysis, and presentation. It has centered on the “T” in “IT.” The next information revolution asks, What is the meaning of information, and what is its purpose?”–Peter Drucker, “The Next Information Revolution,” Forbes ASAP, August 24, 1998.

“The Semantic Web is not a separate Web but an extension of the current one, in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation”–Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler, and Ora Lassila, Scientific American, May 2001, p. 37.

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