Meanings transmitted during any communication process.

The signal-code-transmission model is useful for explaining phenomena happening on the micro level and how it turns into substrates and carry numerous amount of messages by decoding and encoding electric signals. In the views of contemporary contemplation on semiotics and information theory, the model seems a little bit outdated since it is not inclusive of the impact contexts (socioeconomic, cultural) in forming any messages. However, I don’t think the model fails on this aspect; it just needs more alternative explanations and extension.

From my own interpretation, the process of encoding already embodies the analysis of contextual information. As every piece of information carried by substrate is internally a symbol (Irvine indicated everything IS meaning), it already contains myriad of meanings contemplated by individual and society. Analysis of any single terms cannot be stripped off its context, just as one cannot live without its surroundings. For example, when any information regarding the 9/11 tragedy is electrically encoded to be digitally computed, it already embodies a certain degree of conception, subject to personal experience, of individuals who have his or her distinct perception of the event. The perception stems from the narrative of the event, nurtured by collective consciousness to construct the ‘context’ of the event. Thus, defining 9/11 as ‘tragedy’ already indicates that contextual information is also included in the specific information, underlying the representamen.

Also, I think how contextual meaning is circulated is also not necessarily excluded from the narrative of the information model. Shannon’s hypothesis lies upon the assumption that the encoding and decoding process of information should be engineered to reduce the entropy ( unpredictability), which also corresponds to, in my opinion, the development of society and culture. The formation of civilization, in a degree, is to ensure entity within its sphere of influence to have increasing welfare, therefore any unpredictable circumstances should be anticipated and circumvented. In this premise, we can apply the information model to the analysis of context given substrate and context abide the same principles of development. The source can be interpreted as changes in the macro level, and same efforted should also be given upon reduce the noise – unpredictable circumstances in the process of communication.


Martin Irvine, “Introduction to the Technical Theory of Information