“The Bandwagon” or “Shannon gets narky” (1956)

IEEE Xplore – The bandwagon (Edtl.)

From 1956, Claude Shannon remarks on the application of information theory to broad ranges of other disciplines. Two of my favourite quotations from here:

“It will be all too easy for our somewhat artificial prosperity to collapse overnight when it is realized that the use of a few exciting words like information theory, entropy, redundancy, do not solve all our problems.”

” – but the establishing of such applications is not a trivial matter of translating words to a new domain, but rather the slow tedious process of hypothesis and experimental validation.”

Given that I am perennially importing network theory from physics and attempting to apply it to new sociological domains, I feel this is all too apt. Often I want to say: no, your ‘network’ of size 3, 7 or 10 is probably not appropriate for network analysis.

The same arguments were certainly apt 5 to 10 years ago when slews of ‘complex systems’ opinion pieces starting popping up all over the place like pyramid scheme evangelists.

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