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The Shannon-Weaver model of linear information transmission is extended with two loops potentially generating redundancies: (i) meaning is provided locally to the information from the perspective of hindsight, and (ii) meanings can be codified differently and then refer to other horizons of meaning. Thus, three layers are distinguished: variations in the communications, historical organization at each moment of time, and evolutionary self-organization of the codes of communication over time. Furthermore, the codes of communication can functionally be different and then the system is both horizontally and vertically differentiated. All these subdynamics operate in parallel and necessarily generate uncertainty. However, meaningful information can be considered as the specific selection of a signal from the noise; the codes of communication are social constructs that can generate redundancy by giving different meanings to the same information. Reflexively, one can translate among codes in more elaborate discourses. The second (instantiating) layer can be operationalized in terms of semantic maps using the vector space model; the third in terms of mutual redundancy among the latent dimensions of the vector space. Using Blaise Cronin's oeuvre, the different operations of the three layers are demonstrated empirically.
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University of Amsterdam
Visiting Professor, Birkbeck, University of London;