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Information

Klaus Krippendorff


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Common linguistic habits render information as an attribute of messages or data, or as the purpose of human communication – as if information were an objective entity that could be carried from one place to another, purchased, or owned. This conception is seriously misleading. Gregory Bateson (1972 , 381) defined information as “any difference which makes a difference in some later event.” Acknowledging that differences do not reside in nature, but are the product of distinctions, leads to the following definition: information is the difference that drawing distinctions in one domain makes in another. Written messages, for example, vary in very many dimensions – the size and quality of the paper, typefaces, typography, vocabulary use, grammatical constructions, and time of arrival. The number of distinctions that one could possibly draw among these features (and the differences they could possibly make elsewhere) may well be innumerably large. However, psychological, situational, linguistic (→  Linguistics ), and cultural contingencies tend to render only some distinctions meaningful and others irrelevant. This keeps the amount of information that readers actually consider within manageable limits. Information operates in an empirical domain other than where the distinguishable features reside. Bridging these domains is a matter of abduction, an inference relating data to conclusions. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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