Competing models of information in the history of cybernetics

Ramage, Magnus (2011). Competing models of information in the history of cybernetics. In: Ramage, Magnus and Chapman, David eds. Perspectives on Information. Routledge Studies in Library and Information Science. New York: Routledge, pp. 8–20.



Around 1950 a series of interdisciplinary conferences in the United States, later known as the Macy Conferences on Cybernetics, were key to the development of a number of fields and were especially influential on the concept of information. This chapter explores two views of information which emerged from the conferences: the hard view of Wiener and Shannon; and the soft view of Bateson, Mackay and Ashby. The hard view has information as an object in its own right which can be analysed mathematically while the soft view emphasises the context and meaning of information, and the role of the observer.

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