Sunday, May 2, 2010

Are blogs legit?

A blog is a virtual communication tool. Thus, does real actual communication occur? Or do blogs promote fake conversations? Why am I writing this?

Ahhhh... Let the theorizing begin.

First to define the terms. I will proceed to give you my jumbled and incomplete thoughts here. Some of what you will read comes from a jumbled assortment of pithy statements which I remember from Communication Studies classes (it's my minor at college). Let me try to compile it into a coherent thought.

So what do we (that is, Lincoln) mean by communication? Well, strictly speaking, communication is a transference of information from "sender" to "receiver." If not information, then what is being passed along? If not information, then why are you reading this? Now communication can occur through a variety of means - the two categories of language and body language come readily to mind. Perhaps there are more categories, but for now, we'll just look at these two. Within the category of communication-via-language, which is what we typically think of when we normal people talk about communication, we have subcategories. This is because our language communication is mediated through some form or another. For example, some communication is verbal/oral/auditory (aka spoken word, listening to the radio, hearing someone's voice, etc... you know what I mean), while some is written. You are reading this blog, but you could also read a book, a newspaper, or a text message.

But how is it mediated, and does this have an effect on the communication? Or to put it differently, is communication more real or somehow better when it is mediated differently? Some communication scholars believe so, and so do I. Example: Marshall McLuhan is famously regarded as saying "the medium is the message." That is, the way you communicate determines the message that you send. So I will be sending a different message to you by blogging than if you read a book I had written (which I have not). This may seem a bit vague or like it's a bit of a stretch, but I think that it is important to think about. If I send a message via text message, the intrinsic nature of that message will necessarily be different from a verbal face-to-face conversation, or a phone call, or a paragraph in a book, or a blog. Now others, such as Neil Postman, would modify that statement and say that the "medium is the metaphor." By this he tries to make a case that we don't communicate messages or statements, but fuzzy ideas. For more about this difference read his book Amusing Ourselves to Death. It's well worth your read.

Well, this is enough for one post. Electronic messages would not exist were it not for the communication technology which enables them to have a technology-based, deletable existence. If you want to, you can click the x on the upper right hand section of the screen and virtually erase my message. Or I might delete this post tomorrow. But enough is enough.

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