ERIC Number: ED186911
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Discovery and Entropy in the Revision of Technical Reports.
A useful device in revising technical reports is the metaphor of entropy, which refers to the amount of disorder that is present in a system. Applied to communication theory, high entropy would correspond to increased amounts of unfamiliar or useless information in a text. Since entropy in rhetorical systems increases with the unfamiliarity of content, the levels of abstraction, the ambiguities, and the density of relationships (the rate at which the reader is confronted with them), writers can reduce entropy by manipulating these variables. Using redundancies to help the receiver anticipate what will be said next, writers make what is said meaningful and understood. In technical reports, definition is a redundancy for the term defined; analysis is a redundancy for the structure under investigation; and description is a redundancy for the term described. The difficulty with making revisions is that excessive redundancy--too many revisions--tends to become noise, just as unfathomable information is noise. The critical balance between the factors that tend to increase entropy and the factors that writers use to reduce entropy can be expressed in the form of an equation. Writers can use such an equation as a guide for estimating the amount of entropy in their messages and the amount of revision that they should attempt. (RL)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Revision (Written Composition)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (31st, Washington, DC, March 13-15, 1980).