Alan Wolfe, John A. Deighton, Leora Kornfeld

Wolfe argues, in a distinction particularly powerful as we grapple with the limits to the information age, that information is what machines can pass back and forth, or construct by analysis, while meaning is what only people can make. Meaning, as he defines it, is a macrophenomenon that involves making larger sense out of smaller bits, while information reduces larger complexity into smaller, and presumably more manageable, units. Information communicates through signs; meaning, through symbols. For those who seek information, context is only noise; for those concerned with meaning, context is everything. Information and meaning, in short, work at cross-purposes. Communication is possible within the terms of information theory, but interpretation is not.

Monitoring interaction at the level of thought tracing…limits the marketer to the realm of information. But the marketer desires to operate in the realm of meaning because marketing in its fullest sense is the making of meaning. Monitoring of interaction in a world of ubiquitous connectivity does not solve the problem. It increases the amount of information available to marketing but it does not alter the capacity to infer and construct meaning.

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