The Cycle of Symbolic Meaning

Some of the main features of the signals transmission theory are, single unit, point to point, with containers and conduits. (Martin, 2021a, p. 14) However, while information passes through these transmissions, information and meaning are not the same. Information is described as, “structure-preserving structures,” which interpret patterns rather than “meaning.” (Martin, 2021a, p. 14) Furthermore, meanings cannot be transformed into substrates which are interpretable. (Martin, 2021a, p. 18) Meaning is not transferred through the system, but becomes the system. (Martin, 2021a, p. 19) Lastly, information is essential to digital communication because it is the first unobservable layer or substrate in a semiotic systems model, it is “measurable, quantifiable, predictable and designable.” (Martin, 2021a, p. 13)

E-information is unobservable, but media produced by that information can be viewed and interpreted. However, the process of the transmission is always the same, in the absence of errors, the bits which become bytes do not change, only our interpretation of the media they produce may vary. Humans apply meaning to symbols based on recognizable patterns over time, and E-information as a collection of patterns is an embodiment of our primary human symbolic systems. (Martin, 2021b, p. 2) If for example, an individual had never seen a dog, and is shown an image of a dog, they may have heard the word “dog” before, but because the individual had never seen a dog, how would they understand what the image was without being told? E-information is designed to be entirely structured, without structure, information transmission is not possible, which is contradictory to human symbolic understanding which has the capacity to change.  


First, it is still unclear to me in the readings relating to the two learning objectives how E-information is designed as a substrate for symbolic meaning. Secondly, the terms “noise” and “distortion” were reintroduced in the Gleick reading, but it did not explain how “noise” translates over into computing. (Gleick, 2011) Lastly, in the Gleick reading, “ether” was mentioned, but not explained in detail. 



Martin, I. (2021a). Introducing Information Theory: The Context of Electrical Signals Engineering and Digital Encoding.

Martin, I. (2021b). Using the Principle of Levels for Understanding “Information,” “Data,” and “Meaning.”

Gleick, J. (2011). The information: A history, a theory, a flood (1st ed). Pantheon Books.