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Communication

Communication

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Published by: aziz_faryaz on Dec 03, 2009
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04/10/2013

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The term perception is sometimes applied to sensation alone, as
in the phrase "sensory perception". However, I am using it here
in its more common meaning, which includes two closely
linked processes. The first is sensation, which is the only way
information from outside the receiver can get into the receiver's
brain. The second is sufficient cognitive activity to allow that
sensory input to be recognised, if it has been encountered
before, or to be noted as a new phenomenon, if it has not.

Before sensation can occur, a further short transmission step, to
which I have not given a separate heading, is needed. We
usually take sensation for granted, but in fact our sensory
organs do not send any useful messages to the brain until they
are stimulated in the correct way.

For example, a document or a picture needs light waves,
reflected from its surface, to carry the represented information
to the eyes of the receiver. Similarly, sound waves are needed
to carry an auditory representation to the ears – and so on. In
some cases, the appropriate stimulus will have been employed
throughout the transmission step, but otherwise this interim
step is necessary to get the information to the receiver's brain.

1

McLuhan M. and Fiore, Q. 1967. The Medium is the Massage: An
Inventory of Effects. Bantam, New York.

155

An opera singer can transmit an auditory signal to everyone in
the audience by creating sound waves with the vocal cords
which reach all the ears in the auditorium directly. On the other
hand, if you send someone a recorded voice message, it will
not reach their ears until the stored information has been
decoded, amplified, and finally transduced into sound waves by
a loudspeaker or headphones.

Even when the information received by a sensory organ
reaches the brain, the communication process is not complete.
Some sort of interpretation, which varies greatly according to
both the message received and the mind receiving it, is still
necessary. In the case of a printed document, the characters are
usually recognised, decoded into words and at least partially
understood, in the single operation called reading. Further
cognitive activity then continues for a variable period of time,
as discussed under the next heading.

If the document is printed in a foreign language, an extra
processing step called translation will be needed before any
interpretation can occur. The same will apply if it is written in
a secret code, in which case the step is called deciphering. If
these steps can be completed successfully, the situation will
then be similar to the one discussed above. However,
translation from one language to another is not an exact
science, and some nuances of meaning may be altered or lost.

Information

This is a rather misleading heading, because I am actually
going to combine my discussion of information at the receiving
end of the communication process with the next heading,
Receiver's Meaning. When discussing meaning and
information from the sender's perspective, I used separate
headings, but explained that the two were closely related. This

156

time, I will use a single heading, but explain that the two
elements, though considerably interlaced, are not identical.

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