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April 10, 2010


Jef Allbright

It's an important realization that *words do not have meaning* in themselves. They always only trigger changes in some observer, who then ascribes some meaning to them. Context is everything, and even silence, within a particular context, can be full of meaning.

As a person with, shall we say, systems-thinking tendencies, you may want to consider Bateson's "Information is a difference that makes a difference."

Also relevant to this subject is a comment that I made last summer at "the mansion" (you were there) when one of us made a presentation on the value of information services and I said something to the effect that "the value of information corresponds not to what is communicated, but rather, to the amount of processing that otherwise would have been required to achieve the same result." The response to my comment was many blank looks and JS nodding his head.

If you want to dig into this further, I recommend a very readable book, The User Illusion, by Tor Norretranders.


Jef - I remember that comment. I think it was one of my first "official" introductions to systems thinking. I still feel this is something I need to learn a great deal about, however, yes, intuitively to me, this makes sense.

I just looked at The User Illusion and it looks fascinating and I immediately ordered it. Thanks for the recommendation!

ps. I remember when I first had the realization that things meant differently to me when I read them later. I wrote this blog post to remind myself of this. :)

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