October 30, 2010

Notes and Learnings - Communications models

A Communication Primer

Noise distortions can alter the meaning of a message, but that does not mean that it destroys the message or makes it impossible to understand. In the example the video uses, the words "buy" and "sell" are sent through the transmitter and received on the other end. Even if they words are a bit distorted (like "boy" and "self") the receiver can still understand what the original message was intended on being.

Ways to make sure the right message gets through:
  • redundancy
  • increasing the power of the transmitter
Bits are the units of message that can be sent. Each bit adds possibilities at an exponential rate.

Berlo Model of Communication

The Berlo model of communication is one that is dyadic and focuses on the relationship between the source and the receiver (something other earlier models neglected).

Source is broken into 5 areas:

there are 5 verbal communication skills:
  • encoding - speaking and writing
  • decoding - listening and reading
  • both - thought or reasoning

  • the encoders communication behaviour is effected by his or her knowledge of:
  • their own attitudes
  • the ways in which they can produce or treat messages
  • the kinds of choices they can make about the channels used
  • the subject matter

Social System and Culture
People in differing social classes communicat differently. Social and cultural systems partly determine:
  • the word choices which people make
  • the purposes they have for communicating
  • the meaning they attach to certain words
  • their choice of receivers
  • the channels they use for this or that kind of message
  • attitude towards the subject matter - interest and prejudice
  • attitude toward receiver - pretty much, don't look down on your audience, any opinions you have toward them could be reflected in your work.
The Message portion of a communication model has three components: code, content, and treatment. These all mean that in order to have a successful message, you have to make sure that you choose the most appropriate of each of these components.

Lastly, you must consider the limitations of the channel that you are going to use. There will always be limitations, so as a designer it is important to maximize potential from things such as:
  • what is available
  • how much money can be spent
  • what the sources preferences are
  • which channels are receiver by the most people
  • which channels have the most impact.

Visual Communication From Theory to Practice

Communication as a Process
Concerning the Shannon and Weaver model of communication, there are three levels of the communication problem:

A - Technical - How accurately can we communicate our message? What system should we use to encode and decode the message? Is the system universally compatible or do you need special knowledge to understand it?
The technical level contains things like what media is being designed, and who the target audience is. Designers may or may not be involved in deciding what these elements are.

B - Semantic - How precisely does our choice of language, symbols and codes convey? How much of the message can be lost without losing the meaning of it as well?

C - Effectiveness - Does the message affect behavior the way we want it to? What happens if it fails?
This is all about the feedback, which is what was left out of many off the older communication models. Feedback allows the designer to gauge how effective their work is. If it is not effective, then they go back and modify the original to improve results.

I thought that this was an interesting model since it is a more direct interpretation of how designers translate the communication model.

Noise, Redundancy and Entropy
Noise can be from lots of factors. There can be problems such as misprints, the inability to stand out, or the message is hidden.
Redundancy happens when the decoration in a piece detracts from the visual language that is trying to be conveyed. Redundancy can also add context and aid in understanding though, if done correctly.
Entropy uses technical language, which can add understanding only if you are knowledgeable about the subject. this means that the audience is specializes, much smaller than normal. Because of its specific nature though, one a certain method of entropy is use, it become redundant very quickly.

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