Claude Shannon’s so-called Information

Information is not the same as meaning.

At first glance, it’s pretty easy to understand, but actually, it doesn’t actually make a lot of sense, and I would disagree with Claude Shannon that the meaning of a sentence is less important than the informational bits gleaned from it. Which is another point that gets me confused. It seems like Shannon’s ‘information’ is something new and uncertain. For example, that man is fishing. If you and I were to look at that man, holding a fishing rod and wearing river boots, there would be no uncertainty that indeed, that man is fishing. So because there is no uncertainty, there is no information to be had. This concept doesn’t really tango with me. If the man is fishing, you can get all kinds of information. Like, the man is by a river, the man is about 50 years old, the man has not caught a fish yet, etc. How come this is not information? These are facts you would not have known had you not looked outside and seen the man, yet after you’ve witnessed the scene, there is no uncertainty about what’s happening. The information may not be relevant to you, but it is still information. Maybe that’s what he means? Like the ‘u’ after a ‘q’ is irrelevant, and can be implied, it’s not information? But it still holds meaning in the English language — just not information??? The dictionary says information is “facts provided or learned about something or someone.” It’s a fact that in English, a ‘u’ comes after the ‘q’. I still don’t get it, Shannon.


Is this man irrelevant?

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