Expanding the range of “communication”

In our first reading, Chandler started to point out a few problems and questions with the Transmission Model. For example, if communication merely sends and receives messages as clearly as possible, where do the ideas and information that we transmit come from? You should be familiar with the specific limitations that Chandler identifies with this way of thinking about communication: (it doesn’t account for social / cultural context; it doesn’t account for change over time; etc.) The notes on Oncourse summarize a few of the problems and questions. We’ll discuss most of these questions throughout the semester.

On your blogs, think of examples where communication seems to do something different or more than simply transmit information. In class I mentioned the Preamble to the U. S. Constitution. This “communication” didn’t merely transmit facts or knowledge that already existed; it invented a country. I also mentioned Pluto’s planetary status — if communication merely sent info, how can a discussion among a bunch of scientists change the nature or the “truth” of an orbiting rock?

Here’s another example — the Coca-Cola Happiness Factory (try to ignore the creepy mutilating murder of snowpeople!)

If we only think of communication as transmission, how would we describe what’s going on in this commercial? What message is Coca-cola sending or conveying? It seems like there’s a LOT going on to say simply “Buy Coke!” There’s much more going on here that has to do with the way communication, culture, identity, ideas, etc. all interact, but if primarily think of communication as sending / receiving, we can’t make as much sense of this commercial.

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