“What we’ve got here is — failure to communicate!”

You’ve probably heard this famous line from the movie Cool Hand Luke (1967).

We often think of communication as something that either works well or fails; we’ve either communicated clearly and perfectly or we get frustrated by problems with miscommunication; we’re either skilled communicators or flawed communicators. When we think of communication from the “transmission model” perspective (arguably the way most of us learn to think about communication) we usually think along these lines. We think we only need to study how to use the tool or machine of communcation clearly and carefully.

On the first day of class, we drew simple pictures of how we think communication works. Most of them looked a lot like the “transmission model”:


OR, like this:

Someone has an idea or message, we put it into a simple, clear “package” of words or pictures, send that information through communication, and another person opens the “package”  to discover the idea or data. If anything gets in the way (“bad” communication, “noise,” lack of clarity, etc.) then “what we have is — failure to communicate.” That is what we’ve called the transmission model of communication or the standard view of communication.

We see messages everywhere that encourage us to think about communication in this way, not just standard communication textbooks.  Think of cultural messages that talk about or present communication this way (for example, commercials, song lyrics, movies, etc.). Then on your team blog provide some examples of the many ways we are taught to think of communication as a TOOL or machine to transmit messages as clearly, noiselessly, and trasnparently as possible. As you discuss and comment on your group’s examples, think about whether those examples take any of the broader ways of thinking about communication that Chandler mentions into account.

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