- Mutual redundancies in interhuman communication systems: steps towards a calculus of processing meaning
- Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
- Volume | Issue number
- 65 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
The study of interhuman communication requires a more complex framework than Claude E. Shannon's (1948) mathematical theory of communication because "information" is defined in the latter case as meaningless uncertainty. Assuming that meaning cannot be communicated, we extend Shannon's theory by defining mutual redundancy as a positional counterpart of the relational communication of information. Mutual redundancy indicates the surplus of meanings that can be provided to the exchanges in reflexive communications. The information is redundant because it is based on "pure sets" (i.e., without subtraction of mutual information in the overlaps). We show that in the three-dimensional case (e.g., of a triple helix of university-industry-government relations), mutual redundancy is equal to mutual information (Rxyz = Txyz); but when the dimensionality is even, the sign is different. We generalize to the measurement in N dimensions and proceed to the interpretation. Using Niklas Luhmann's (1984-1995) social systems theory and/or Anthony Giddens's (1979, 1984) structuration theory, mutual redundancy can be provided with an interpretation in the sociological case: Different meaning-processing structures code and decode with other algorithms. A surplus of ("absent") options can then be generated that add to the redundancy. Luhmann's "functional (sub)systems" of expectations or Giddens's "rule-resource sets" are positioned mutually, but coupled operationally in events or "instantiated" in actions. Shannon-type information is generated by the mediation, but the "structures" are (re-)positioned toward one another as sets of (potentially counterfactual) expectations. The structural differences among the coding and decoding algorithms provide a source of additional options in reflexive and anticipatory communications.
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