Formerly SpringBlog

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thinking about Communication.

In Chapter 3, Morville argues the importance of communication among people in his discussion of information. He says,
"Communication is the backbone of all human society from ancient tribes to modern nations. And, information is the principal ingredient that enables cooperation to scale from clans with a few dozen members to an interconnected global economy of billions. Information allows us to communicate across time and space. From marks on bark to etchings in silicon, we're able to share observations, experience, insight, and emotion. Documents are talking objects" (47).
First of all, I love how he relates communication across all time. He talks about the earliest form of communication in ancient tribes and then relates it to our modern society. The thing that blows my mind regarding this statement is the fact that we are getting even more advanced in our communication. Thinking about where we came from to where we are now, it scares me a little bit to think about where we will be in the future. The shorthand we know today such as 'LOL' or 'TTYL' was not around all that long ago. We are becoming more streamlined in our communication, which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing, but when is too simple too much?

Secondly, it is weird to think about communication reaching across to billions of people. Not only did language start out very basic, but it didn't have to reach across many people groups. A translator is a necessary job now because of all the information sharing we do among cultures. Computers are starting to take this over and soon, if not already, we will be able to speak in one language and a person on the other side of the computer screen will hear it in their language. Does anyone know if something like this exists?

Thirdly, I also liked his description of documents- how they are talking objects. This is something that I had to ponder for a minute to understand what he really meant. Since he argues that information is shared in communication, this would be a legitimate conclusion. A document is full of information that is shared between two or more people. You enter into a conversation with the text when you read or pick something out of a text.

Going off of this, it blows my mind how easily our brains can interpret a document. For example, coniunte to raed tihs sencente and see if you nitcoe atnynhig out of the onardiry? Did you pick atinnhyg out of the txet taht smeeed wierd? If you didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, you are like most people. Researchers at Cambridge University have concluded that it doesn't matter what order the middle letters are in because as long as the first and last letter are in place, your brain will be able to decipher the words you are reading.

So information can be processed to our brains even when it shouldn't make sense. The human mind blows me away so often. What exactly is information then if we can perceive even the stuff that's messed up? What is not included in this definition? Personally, I don't think you can put limitations when defining that term. We said something like information was "useful knowledge" in our class, but how do you define useful then? What is useful to you may be completely useless to me and vice versa. So I don't think information can have limitations put on it when trying to define the term. I think it's one of those terms that we will never be able to fully grasp and I think we have to learn to be okay with that fact.


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