The Self-Organization of Meaning and the Reflexive Communication of Information; preprint available

Loet Leydesdorff loet at LEYDESDORFF.NET
Tue Jul 21 02:04:28 EDT 2015

The Self-Organization of Meaning and the Reflexive Communication of
Information <> 

Loet Leydesdorff, Alexander Petersen, and Inga A. Ivanova


Following a suggestion of Warren Weaver, we extend the Shannon model of
communication piecemeal into a complex systems model in which communication
is differentiated both vertically and horizontally. This model enables us to
bridge the divide between Niklas Luhmann's theory of the self-organization
of meaning in communications and empirical research using information
theory. First, we distinguish between communication relations and
correlations between patterns of relations. The correlations span a vector
space in which relations are positioned and thus provided with meaning.
Second, positions provide reflexive perspectives. Whereas the different
meanings are integrated locally, each instantiation opens horizons of
meaning that can be codified along eigenvectors of the communication matrix.
The next-order specification of codified meaning can generate redundancies
(as feedback on the forward arrow of entropy production). The horizontal
differentiation among the codes of communication enables us to quantify the
creation of new options as mutual redundancy. Increases in redundancy can
then be measured as local reduction of prevailing uncertainty (in bits). The
generation of options can also be considered as a hallmark of the
knowledge-based economy: new knowledge provides new options. Both the
communication-theoretical and the operational (information-theoretical)
perspectives can thus be further developed. 


Preprint available at 


** apologies for cross-postings




Loet Leydesdorff 

Emeritus University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)

 <mailto:loet at> loet at ;
Honorary Professor,  <> SPRU, University of

Guest Professor  <> Zhejiang Univ., Hangzhou;
Visiting Professor,  <> ISTIC,

Visiting Professor,  <> Birkbeck, University of London;



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