Even with the introduction video and the introduction Dr. Irvine wrote for us, I found the concept of Information Theory difficult to grasp. Until… I got to the Denning and Bell essay, The Information Paradox, and everything started to make sense.
In Denning and Bell’s essay they say “Computing without reference to meaning works for communication channels but not for computation in general” (p.476). Then they go on to talk about how people who pay to play Word of Warcraft do not pay for the physical computing, but for the story that the computer generates. So the gamer is only on the meaning side?
This made me think about the art work I make in p5.js. I start by creating a program. I take bits that don’t mean anything on their own and put them together in a code like this:
Then, when I run this program I get an image like this:
In this case, am I on both sides of the spectrum? Or does this not count because I already have knowledge that when I put these bits together they are going to command the computer to do something specific?
Other Random Thought I Had:
My high school librarian once bet the senior class she would be able to guess a word of our (the senior class) choice out of the whole Oxford English Dictionary in less than 20 guesses. The catch was, that every word she guessed wrong we would have to say “before” or “after” depending on whether or not the word we chose was before or after the word she guessed. With every word she guessed her odds grew while the selection of words shrunk. This reminded me of Shannon’s use of bits. Asking simple Yes/No questions until you arrived at the correct answer. The librarian won the bet, it only took her about 11 tries before she got the word. It was “graduation” so not very clever on our part.
James Gleick, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. (New York, NY: Pantheon, 2011).
Martin Irvine, “Introduction to the Technical Theory of Information“.
Peter Denning and Tim Bell, “The Information Paradox.” From American Scientist, 100, Nov-Dec. 2012.
Ronald E. Day, “The ‘Conduit Metaphor’ and the Nature and Politics of Information Studies.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science 51, no. 9 (2000): 805-811.