A paper by Klaus Krippendorff, Ph.D., the Gregory Bateson Professor for Cybernetics, Language, and Culture, titled “Ross Ashby’s information theory: a bit of history, some solutions to problems, and what we face today,” which appeared in the International Journal of General Systems, (Volume 38, Issue 2) is nominated by the journal’s Editorial Board community to receive the 2009 Best Paper Award.
The paper offers an account of Ross Ashby’s extension of Claude Shannon’s mathematical theory of communication to the analysis of complex systems. It notes his (and my own early) oversight of the existence of circularities in such systems. It then presents my own statistical solution to analyzing systems involving circular flows of communication, overcoming Shannon’s early confinement to linear conceptions of communication. Finally, it puts the whole enterprise of information statistics in question by quantifying the size of cyberspace and exploring the artifacts with which we furnish it. The latter implies a sea change in understanding socio-digital systems, parting quite radically from traditional systems theories.