The Informational Conception of Human Interaction

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This is the commonsense conception of “communication” — the presentation

of the individual’s point of view in which meanings arise in the private cognition

of individuals. This is a reproductive technology that is a vehicle for overcoming

difference through message exchange with the purpose of arousing a response.

Meaning is strategically reproduced, i.e., for a pre-defined purpose, to serve

the interest of the individual.

Born of the emergence of telecommunications practices in the 1940s, information

theory (originally termed communication theory) was developed as a

theory not of significance and meaning but of signals (in copper wires) (see

Shannon & Weaver, 1949). “Information” became a popular idea, and

communication theory became an explanation of meaning as well as of

telegraph and telephone channel signal capacity. Communication became, in

the common sense of everyday talk, the sharing of information. Several

academic disciplines came to be defined in terms of information production,

manipulation, and interpretation including computer science, management

sciences, economics, journalism, and communication studies.

Some people have even suggested that all that is human should be explained by

information, communication, and control [see Beniger (1986), and Peters’

critique (1987)]. Yet, in our communication we are not concerned only with

information, but also the body it comes from. Unfortunately, for it muddles and

veils unnecessary biases and distortions, the notion of communication as

information exchange touches on the ancient notion of instant contact between

minds at a distance, but also allows that any “thing” that processes information

is a communicator, and thus for people to be reduced to information processors.

Myerson (2001) has examined the change in the idea of “communication” that

has enabled, and is driven by, the move to widespread mobilized communication

(the pervasive adoption of PCTs, especially the mobile phone). This

discussion is elaborated in the end case study.