Understanding Citations and Redundancy

Note to the reader: In this post, I make no effort to introduce new terms.  This is just a thought for myself. -jFc

While trying to navigate and record a net of citations, I had a wonderful realization:

  • Citations, like mailing addresses, are written in a redundant encoding system
  • The fundamental purpose of a citation or reference is to enable the reader to find the source

As I write this, I realize, on a somewhat unrelated thought:

  • Email addresses contain little or no redundancy; that is:
    • all of the characters must be present, and
    • the characters must be in the correct order
  • This is significantly unlike postal addresses, whose redundancy enables delivery of a great deal of incorrectly addressed mail
  • This begs the question, “Should email addresses (or URLs, etc.) contain redundant information, in the name or reliability?
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One comment on “Understanding Citations and Redundancy

  1. David C. says:

    When you mail a letter, it takes days to arrive. Citations are used weeks, months, or even years after they are recorded. E-Mail addresses are used instantly, and then not again. For most cases, they are still somewhat informal, and partially unreliable. If you need a formal and/or reliable email, you can request a return receipt, and you can encrypt the email so only the intended recipients can read the information. Given there are more email addresses than postal addresses, I would say redundancy in email address is not necessary. If you send the wrong address, usually you get a reply right away of your error, unless you stumble upon an email address which exactly matches your mistake. The lack of redundancy in e-mail addresses is compensated for through requiring precision and the immediacy of the delivery.

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