How information is being transmitted?

This week’s reading refreshed my understanding of the concept of information. In our daily life, information usually refers to facts and details that enhance our understanding. However, in the technical sense, information can be seen as a designed problem for transmitting encoded signals in a physical medium.

Information Model Theory

In Shannon’s model, we can see the process of how information is encoded and transmitted. Here we can use message app in our cellphone as an example, when we sending message to our friends, we are actually encoding information through the binary digit (bits) system. During this process, some system error (noises) can occur. And the information will be transmitted from the bits system to texts again through our friends’ decoding. Finally, in our friends’ cellphone they will receive our text message and interpret our message based on their understanding.

Though this model is essential for the daily digital and electronic system, it is insufficient for the meaning system.

Who Creates Meaning?

Meaning are not in anything or any system, the cognitive agents enact meanings based on their own understandings and interpretations. The social-cultural cognitive symbol users encode information, and the other cognitive symbol users receive and decode the information, during this process meanings are created.

In my own understanding, not only language, but the digital images need to be designed and transferred to visual information. As a visually inclined person, I love taking photos with my camera and enjoy others’ works.

(Photo from

During the process of taking pictures, the landscape we pick (the 3D space) will have different light rays, and those light rays will be captured and transferred by our digital camera. A good photographer will choose the best angel, place, and situation to shoot. In this way, he or she can encode some information through the photo: either expressing his or her emotion and thoughts, or promoting the beautiful landscape. And the audience will decode the photographer’s information through their own understanding and their own social-cultural background.

For example, my friend sees the beauty of nature from this photo. However; my first thought about this photo is the photographer must use tele-photo lens, and it’s really expensive.


Martin Irvine (n.p.), Introduction to the Technical Theory of Information.

James Gleick (2011), The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. NY: Pantheon

Peter Denning and Tim Bell (2012). The Information Paradox. American Scientist