**spoiler alert** Page 201: Information theory is a mathematical, structural way of looking at signals that disregards the knowledge-content or meanin...more**spoiler alert** Page 201: Information theory is a mathematical, structural way of looking at signals that disregards the knowledge-content or meaning of message. In information theory, information measures uncertainty. Information is a measure of all of the possible messages an act of communication might contain. The answer to a yes/no question contains less information (and less uncertainty) then an answer to a question about a favorite color, because there are fewer possible answer to the yes/no question. Information theory studies signal transmission from a source to a target. Part of this process is noise, in which distortion enters into the signal from an outside source. Noise increases the uncertainty and therefore the amount of information in a message. Although noise in the engineering of signal transmission is usually undesirable, in games noise can be a productive design element. According to the lusory attitude, players seek out inefficient activities in a game. Thus noise, which makes communication more difficult and uncertain, makes games such as Charades possible, in which difficulty in communication is the premise of the game. Redundancy in a system acts to balance out noise by ensuring that not every component of a message in necessary. The English language as a form of communication contains about 50 percent redundancy. (less)
Page 76: It maybe of some interest to note, in this connection, that the crossword puzzle became a popular form of diversion in America at just that p...morePage 76: It maybe of some interest to note, in this connection, that the crossword puzzle became a popular form of diversion in America at just that point when the telegraph and the photograph achieved the transformation of news from functional information to decontextualized fact. This coincidence suggests that the new technologies had turned the age-old problem of information on its head: Where people once sought information to manage the real contexts of their lives, now they had to invent contexts in which otherwise useless information maybe put to some apparent use. The crossword puzzle is one such pseudo-context; the cocktail party is another; the radio quiz shows of the 1930's and 1940's and the modern television game show are still others; and the ultimate, perhaps, is the wildly successful "Trivial Pursuit". In one form or the another, each of these supplies an answer to the question, "What am I to do with all these disconnected facts?" And in one form or another, the answer is the same: why not use them for diversion? for entertainment? to amuse yourself, in a game? In "The Image", Boorstin calls the major creation of the graphic revolution the "pseudo-event", by which he means an event specifically staged to be reported - like the press conference. I mean to suggest here that a more significant legacy of the telegraph and photograph maybe the pseudo-context. A pseudo-context is a structure invented to give fragmented and irrelevant information seeming use. But the use pseudo-context provides is not action, or problem-solving, or change. It is the only use left for information with genuine connection to our lives. And that, of course, is to amuse. The pseudo-context is the last refuge, so to say, of a culture overwhelmed by irrelevance, incoherence, and impotence.
Page 87: Entertainment is the supraideology (?) of all discourse on television. No matter what is depicted or from what point of view, the overarching presumption is that it is there for our amusement and pleasure. This why even on news shows which provide us daily with fragments of tragedy and barbarism, we are urged to by the newscasters to "join them tomorrow". What for? One would think that several minutes of murder and mayhem would suffice material for months of sleepless nights. We accept the newscasters invitation because we know that the "news" is not to be taken seriously, that it is all fun, so to say. / - / A news show, to put it plainly, is a format of entertainment, not for education, reflection or catharsis. And we must not judge too harshly those who have framed it this way. They are not assembling the news to be read, or broadcasting it to be heard. They are televising the news to be seen. They must follow where the medium leads. There is no conspiracy here, no lack of intelligence, only a straightforward recognition that "good television" has little to do with what is "good" about exposition or other forms of verbal communication but everything to do with what the pictorial image looks like.
Page 111: For example, America's newest and highly successful national newspaper, USA Today, is modeled precisely on the format of television. It is sold on the street in receptacles that look like television sets. Its stories are uncommonly short, its design leans heavily on pictures, charts and other graphics, some of them printed in various colors. its weather maps are a visual delight; its sports section includes enough pointless statistics to distract a computer. As a consequence, USA Today, which began publication in September 1982, has become the third largest daily in the United States (as of July 1984, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations), moving quickly to overtake the Daily News and the Wall Street Journal. Journalists of a more traditional bent have criticized it for its superficiality and theatrics, but the paper's editors remain steadfast in their disregard of typographic standards. The paper's editor-in-chief, John Quinn, has said: "We are not up to undertaking projects of the dimensions needed to win prizes. They don't give awards for best investigative paragraph." Here is an astonishing tribute to the resonance of television's epistemology: In the age of television, the paragraph is becoming the basic unit of news in print media. Moreover, Mr.Quinn need not fret too long for being deprived of awards. As other newspapers join in the transformation, the time cannot be far off when awards will be given for the best investigative sentence. (less)