Text 1. Communication contexts.
Communication contexts consist of a blend of the audience being addressed and the social settings in which communication occurs. While audiences and settings may be discussed separately, they may also be discussed together. Intrapersonal Communication Intrapersonal communication involves communication with oneself. People normally communicate with themselves when they are alone in private or semiprivate places. When people talk to themselves aloud in crowded, public places, others find such behavior strange. People communicate with themselves for a variety of purposes. They inform themselves by making grocery lists and by jotting notes of upcoming events on calendars. Before writing essays, they may inform themselves about how to proceed by making outlines. People also express feelings to themselves. Diary writing, for example, grows out of the human need to express feelings to oneself. People also address imaginative messages to themselves. They daydream and fantasize for pleasure. Students doodle creatively as they sit in class. Some people write poetry or prose that they never intend to share. Finally, people engage in ritualistic communication with themselves. Silent prayers and devotions often involve memorized rituals. Many athletes go through a ritual as they prepare for a game or contest. Baseball pitchers and batters, for example, often go through a routine as they prepare to pitch or bat.
Part 1. Interpersonal Communication Interpersonal communication involves one-to-one exchanges between people. It is the most important and frequent context for communication. It is important because it is essential to forming and maintaining significant relationships between individuals. Two types of interpersonal contexts exist. The first is impersonal in nature. When people react to each other according to the role they are playing, the context is impersonal. For example, in the relationship between a customer and a clerk, the customer may say “I'd like this item,” and the clerk may say “That will be 79 cents.” The most important type of interpersonal context, however, is personal in nature. When people react to one another as unique human beings with special needs and interests, a personal context exists and close relationships may develop. Such things as attraction, self-disclosure, and trust seem to play important roles in establishing and maintaining long-term social relationships. While most interpersonal communication involves face-to-face exchanges, telephone calls and letters are also forms of interpersonal communication. When friends and loved ones are separated by space, they still feel the need to communicate with each other. To compensate for the lack of physical presence, people use personal language and paralinguistic cues to reveal their feelings of love and friendship when writing letters or talking on the telephone.
Part 2. Small Group Communication Small group communication involves give-and-take exchanges between a relatively small number of people. A small group involves at least three but has no precise upper limit. The important thing is not how many people are involved but whether the people are aware of each other as individuals and feel that they can participate in the discussion. The first small group in which most people communicate is the family. Family communication often occurs around the dinner table, in the living room, and in the car. As children mature they become members of other small groups: peer play groups, church or synagogue classes, and day-care center or preschool groups. When children enter school they become members of classes. As they progress through school they communicate in an ever-increasing number of groups: scouting, dance classes, musical groups, athletic teams, and school clubs. As adults people begin families of their own, become members of groups of people who work together, form friendship groups, join recreational and athletic teams, and become active in community groups. Throughout life people continue to participate in small-group contexts. Scholars often classify groups by function. Among the functional groups that have been identified are learning, social, therapy, problem-solving, political action, and worship groups. Given the variety of functions, effective participation in groups requires a variety of skills. In family and therapy groups, for example, people must be effective in empathizing with others. In learning groups, however, people must have the wide array of skills needed for sending and receiving informative messages. As members, people must learn to help the group to accomplish its purpose or function. Their behaviors toward this end are called task roles. But people must also help each other to feel good about group membership and participation. Their behaviors toward these ends are called group maintenance or social roles. In addition, group members must become aware of individual actions that interfere with effective group functioning. Good group members are team players—they sacrifice self-interests for the welfare of the group
Part 3. Organizational Communication. Many small groups are also part of a larger group called an organization. An organization is, simply, a body of people organized for some specific purpose. Among the major organizations in society are churches, schools, colleges and universities, businesses, corporations, libraries, military services, and city, county, state, and national governments. Because organizations are complex, it is important that communication networks be established. The communication network in a business or public agency is often drawn up in an organization chart that identifies the titles of people who hold positions in the organization and indicates who is responsible to whom. Communication networks provide for both formal and informal exchanges of ideas. It is important in organizations that communication networks provide for a two-way flow of information. It must flow from a company president's office to all of the individuals and groups who need that information. But it should also flow in the other direction. Workers are more satisfied when they feel that their ideas are flowing to persons higher on the organization chart. Organizational communication is also important because conflicts arise between individuals and groups. Engineers in a company, for example, may produce product designs that shop foremen consider too difficult to make. When such differences arise, the communication network must provide for conflict resolution—a system through which workers can settle their differences. Public Communication Public communication involves face-to-face exchanges between people in situations where speaker and listener roles are relatively fixed. A lecture, a theatrical production, a concert, a religious service, a court trial, and a legislative hearing are all instances of public communication. Since public communication is essentially a one-way process, those who play speaker roles have a special responsibility. Speakers need to prepare carefully for such occasions. The message must be clearly organized. Audiences in public communication contexts have a right to expect speaker competence.
Part 4. Mass Communication Mass communication may be defined simply as messages directed at masses, or great numbers, of people. There are features of mass communication, however, that help to set it apart from other communication. Mass communication messages are prepared by institutions or other groups of people. A local television evening news program, for example, involves the three or four people who are seen at the news desk, but it also involves many people who are never seen on camera—camera operators, engineers, business managers, and many others. Mass communication is also directed to a relatively large and anonymous audience—“to whom it may concern.” The message must appeal to a large number of people, or those producing it will not remain in business. Finally, the source of the message is remote—separated from the audience by time or space. As a consequence, those being addressed do not feel the same need to pay careful attention as do those in the company of the message source. For example, television viewers generally feel free to talk to each other, leave the room to get a snack, change channels, or fall asleep. The fact that mass communication is a business in America has important implications. The mass media are in competition with each other for sales dollars, advertising revenue, or both. With advances in technology the number of alternatives is increasing. People have a greater variety of communication products from which to choose. Cable television, videotapes, and pay television systems, for instance, offer an increasing number of options to television viewers. As some people turn away from regular network and local-station programming, advertisers may be unwilling to pay the prices asked for advertising time. In the past, magazine publishers, film producers, and radio stations found it necessary to reach out for specific audiences. It has been suggested that the general mass audience is disappearing in favor of a number of smaller, more limited mass audiences.
Text 2. Mediums.
The various mediums of communication are the means through which messages are encoded or transported between people. There are only five possible ways that messages may enter human consciousness: through sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste.
Part 1. Primitive Means. In earliest times primitive people made contact with the outside world through the same five senses used by people today. They could hear the sounds of animals, see objects, feel the rain on their faces, smell the fragrance of wild flowers, and taste berries and other foods. The individual cave dweller could do all of these things in the absence of other people. But primitive people did not live alone. They came together in groups to avoid loneliness, to help each other hunt and gather food, and to protect themselves from ever-present dangers. In order to live and work cooperatively, they needed to find ways to communicate with each other. They were largely limited to things that could be heard, seen, or felt. They used sounds, gestures, and touch as symbols. A grunting sound might have indicated that a rock was too heavy to lift alone, or a gesture might have stood for “come here” or “get back.” Over time a language developed that stood for the objects and actions needed for survival in a hunting society. Primitive people also expressed their feelings through art and dance. The cave paintings in Lascaux, France, which were drawn some 27,000 years ago, depict animals of the time. It is not known whether these pictures had a magical or religious purpose, but they show that primitive people had both a need and a talent for self-expression. As societies advanced, people learned to grow crops, raise animals, and fish as well as hunt. Consequently, they needed symbols to stand for new objects and actions required by such activities. Also, as people did different kinds of work, they needed to trade products with one another. In order to keep records of their transactions, they made notches on sticks and scratches on stones or shells. The Inca Indians recorded information on quipu—a set of knotted strings. Such primitive devices represented the first attempt of humans to record information visually. Primitive peoples were limited in their ability to communicate across distances. Smoke signals, drums, and fires were used to stretch the boundaries of human sight and sound. Nighttime bonfires were used in early societies as beacons to guide ships at sea. Later, lighthouses were built to extend the range of fire signals. The Pharos at Alexandria, Egypt, stands as a remnant of early attempts to reach out to those at sea. On land, communication at distances greater than the limits of sight or sound was no faster than the speed of the swiftest runner. Writing Although oral language was a major achievement for humanity, it had limitations. It was an imperfect means for transporting messages over distance and time. A message sent to far places or passed to succeeding generations was only as accurate as the memory of the runner or the tribal elder. With the invention of writing, ideas could be recorded, copied, and sent by several runners to people in distant places. Ideas could also be passed on with little or no distortion to succeeding generations. The first forms of writing were little more than crude pictures strung together in messages called pictographs. Each picture stood for a simple idea. With time pictures were combined to represent more complex ideas. These combinations, called ideographs, expanded the variety of ideas that could be represented. The Chinese ideograph for wife, for example, consisted of the pictures for woman and broom. Even later ideographs came to represent sounds, and the forerunner of modern alphabets was born. The invention of alphabets enabled people to send signal messages by torches. For example, the Greeks organized their alphabet in five rows with five letters in each row. By lighting torches in one rack to indicate row and torches in a second rack to indicate the letter in the row, they could spell out messages. Navy signalmen indicate letters of the alphabet with flags and by blinking lights that stand for letters. With the invention of writing, people sought materials on which symbols could be written. In early times symbols were recorded on flat stones, bark, and animal skins. As symbol systems were improved, so too were the materials on which symbols were recorded. The Babylonians wrote on clay tablets and large flat stones. The Egyptians wrote on a fabric made from the papyrus plant, and the Greeks on parchment made by treating the skins of sheep and goats. Eventually paper, invented in China, was used to record symbols throughout the civilized world. Although writing represented a major breakthrough in the way that messages were encoded, it did not do so in the way that messages were transmitted. A written message still had to be transported by conventional means. Cyrus the Great of Persia sent messages across the land by relays of men on horseback much as Pony Express riders carried messages cross-country in the American West. One of the great contributions of the Roman Empire was a network of roads from Rome to the far reaches of the empire. In addition to transporting armies, these roads were used to send messages by horseback or horse-drawn chariots. The network of Roman roads is sometimes credited with promoting the spread of Christianity in the early years of the church; the same roads that carried the Roman armies were also traveled by Paul and his emissaries bearing letters to the churches at Corinth, Thessalonica, and Phillipi. But it still took weeks and sometimes months for people and messages to be transported between places.
Part 2. Printing. Although writing enabled people to record ideas on a surface, it did not provide the basis for making multiple, inexpensive copies of materials. Additional copies of writings required long and tedious work by scribes, people who copied documents by hand. Consequently, the writings of earlier times were not available to most people. The origin of printing dates back as far as AD 100. By inking covered marble surfaces and placing paper on them, the Chinese were able to “print” designs and symbols. By the year 500, wood blocks were used in some parts of the Orient to reproduce symbols. But the modern era of printing began when Johannes Gutenberg, a German inventor and possibly a goldsmith, created movable letters from which words could be formed. This invention made it possible for printers to produce thousands of copies in less time than it had taken a scribe to produce one. Inexpensive written materials became generally available. As the art of engraving emerged, pictures could be printed as well as words. The single invention of printing encouraged more and more people to learn to read as well as to read to learn. While printing made written materials available to more people, it did not improve the system for transmitting messages. It was still necessary to send printed messages by traditional forms of transportation. For nearly 300 years the printed message could be transported with no greater speed than that of the fastest person, animal, or sailing ship. Then in the 1700s the power of steam was harnessed. Steam-powered presses permitted printers to produce a greater volume of printed materials more quickly and inexpensively than ever before. Newspapers and magazines grew in number and circulation. Equally important, steam engines had a major impact on transportation. Printed messages could be rushed across continents by steam-powered trains and across oceans by steam-powered ships. Electric Media In the early 1800s inventors made great progress in sending symbols via electrical impulses over wires. By 1832 Samuel F.B. Morse had invented the telegraph. In the years immediately following he perfected a dot-dash system for encoding and decoding telegraph messages. By 1844 Morse's telegraph spanned the 37-mile (60-kilometer) distance between Washington and Baltimore. By 1856 the Western Union Telegraph Company was established. Soon wires crisscrossed the United States, and cables were laid beneath the Atlantic Ocean. The telegraph had, at long last, freed long-distance communication from transportation. Messages could be transmitted instantly across great distances. News from across the world could be publishedin newspapers on the day it happened. In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell was awarded patents for his telephone, a device by which the voice could be transported over electrical currents carried by wires. By 1880 about 30,000 telephones were in operation in the United States. The electric revolution in communication was well on its way.
Part 3. Broadcast Media. Electronic advances in the 1900s made it possible to transmit messages without the use of wires. In broadcasting, messages are encoded on electromagnetic waves that travel through space. By 1901 coded messages were sent across the Atlantic Ocean by wireless telegraph (early radio). When Lee De Forest patented a vacuum tube in 1906, music or voice could be encoded on electromagnetic waves. Radio as known today became possible. By 1920 radio receivers began to appear in homes across America and throughout the world. Television broadcasting is similar to radio broadcasting except that more signal space—called bandwidth—is needed to carry the complex video signal with the audio signal. Although television was demonstrated as early as 1926 and was used experimentally in the 1930s, the popular use of television did not begin until the late 1940s because of the intervention of World War II. Color television emerged in the mid-1950s and became dominant over black-and-white television in the late 1960s. The electronic revolution was by that time well under way. Forgotten Media As people chart the progress of media over time, they often move from writing, to printing, to the telegraph and telephone, to radio and television, and into the space age. So dramatic were electric and electronic inventions that they overshadowed advances in media for recording visual images and sound. Photography emerged as a means of recording visual images in the early 19th century. The phonograph also dates back to the 19th century. By the beginning of the 20th century, a practical motion picture system had been invented. Silent films were replaced by talking motion pictures in 1927. Colored films were introduced in 1934. Film, photography, and audio–video recordings are now important media of communication. If they are slighted, it is probably because these media still depend on traditional forms of transportation. It is difficult to compete for recognition with media that involve the instantaneous transmission of messages around the world.
Part 4. High-Technology Revolution. The new technology required for space exploration has had a major impact on communication in offices and homes. This technology has enabled business people to hold teleconferences with people in faraway cities. Computers and word processors are found in many offices. Electronic mail speeds business messages across continents, and electronic fund transfers give business managers great flexibility in managing money. The new technology has also entered homes. Many families now receive their television through cable, a sophisticated wire system permitting many television signals to be transmitted at the same time. Other families view television programs bounced off a satellite high above the Earth. Videotape recorders enable people to record television programs for later playback and to increase the variety of materials they may view in their homes. Computers continue to become an increasingly important aid to the communication process. Large computers in central locations store enormous amounts of information and permit other computers to use it if desired. By connecting their television sets to telephones and personal computers, people can see information from a library or other program source. Further linkages with cable, teletext, and view data systems enable many more families to bring the knowledge of the world into their homes. Whatever technical advances may occur in the future, meaning will still exist only in the minds of people. Technology is a means of helping people to share ideas and feelings, but it will never replace the fundamental human need to relate to others.
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