07 Aug 12
What is communication? Last week I talked about the chicken
and the egg idea of the evolution of communication technologies,
but what is communication itself?
According to an online dictionary, communication is defined as:
1. the act or process of communicating; fact of being communicated.
2. the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.
3. something imparted, interchanged, or transmitted.
4. a document or message imparting news, views, information, etc.
5. passage, or an opportunity or means of passage, between places.
In a nutshell, that basically means nothing to us.
Aristotle said “The speaker produces a message that is heard by the listener” describing the model of communication in his book “Rhetoric”. Communication can be broken down into the biological sense (perception), the philosophical idea, the literal, the evolutionary perspective, etc... There is essentially a million different ideas of what communication really is. I think to us, looking at this topic academically, it is more important knowing how communication affects us, rather than simply what it is, and what it means to us.
See, I am a musician. So specifically to me, communication involves writing a song with a message and the listener interpreting that message. It is all just communication still is it not? Same way an artist will paint a picture with an intended message, idea or perspective that they communicate to the audience through the paint.
To me, communication is interacting with another being through a medium. Whether it's a cell in a plant transmitting signals to another cell, a father talking to his daughter face to face, an archaeologist reading thousands of years old transcripts or a teenager reading a message from their friend off of their mobile phone. It's all just another form of communication is it not? So instead of “what is communication” maybe we should be asking, what is being communicated, why and how?