Information, meaning and context

Chapman, David (2011). Information, meaning and context. In: Ramage, Magnus and Chapman, David eds. Perspectives on Information. Routledge Studies in Library and Information Science. New York and Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 36–50.



Shannon’s 1948 paper on the mathematical theory of information provides the foundation for understanding and engineering communication links, and for that reason alone should be seen as a classic work of the information age. Arguments have raged, however, as to whether and in what way it has significance beyond engineering. This chapter supports a wider relevance of Shannon’s work by bringing together the insights of layered architectures as used by communications engineers and the concept of ‘meaning’ from semiotics to suggest that the ‘selective information’ of Shannon and ‘semantic information’ are of the same nature.

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