From The Human Use of Human Beings. I read it just to see if there was anything to be gained from returning to the horse’s mouth when it comes to cybernetics and information theory…but there’s not a great deal of interest today, given how much his ideas have permeated our society. It’s a mixum-gatherum of various observations and what he thinks are noteworthy implications of different ideas, a type of free-association of theory in the abstract to try bring it to bear on reality. Decided to jot down a few quotes all the same.
In control and communication we are always fighting nature’s tendency to degrade the organized and to destroy the meaningful; the tendency, as Gibbs has shown us, for entropy to increase.
To live effectively is to live with adequate information.
Just as entropy is a measure of disorganization, the information carried by a set of messages is a measure of information.
That is, the more probable the message, the less information it gives. Cliches, for example, are less illuminating than great poems
Here I want to interject the semantic point that words such as life, purpose, and soul are grossly inadequate to precise scientific thinking. These terms have gained their significance through our recognition of the unity of a certain group of phenomena, and do not in fact furnish us with any adequate basis to characterize this unity.
The scientist is always working to discover the order and organization of the universe, and is thus playing a game against the arch enemy, disorganization. Is this devil Manichean or Augustinian? Is it a contrary force opposed to order, or is it the very absence of order itself?
It follows that administrative officials, whether of a government or a university or a corporation, should take part in a two-way stream of communication, and not merely in one descending from the top.
…the human interest in language seems to be an innate interest in coding and decoding, and this seems to be as nearly specifically human as any interest can be.
The greatest opportunity of the criminal in the modern community lies in this position as a dishonest broker in the insterstices of the law.
There is no Maginot Line of the brain.
…when there is communication without need for communication, merely so that someone may earn the social and intellectual prestige of becoming a priest of communication, the quality and communicative value of the message drop like a plummet…