The message is now the medium


Shannon Weaver Model of Mathematical CommunicationIn the late forties, Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver developed a  basic information theory, the Shannon Weaver Model of Mathematical Communication. The premise was that most human communication would be interpersonal and linear. A source would send out a message using a transmitter that would send signals to a receiver and finally this would reach a destination. This linear model emphasized noise and there was no feedback loop.

This communication theory was shunned by pundits for a long time but it has more relevance today than before. Multiple communications sources from television to the Internet give us deafening noises. Our feedback loops are now weak or nonexistent because sending more messages and creating louder noises symbolizes the way society works.

Take political messaging as an example. There are so many sources from the President directly on Twitter, White House officials, the opposition, media, propagandists and myriads of people and technical gadgets. The end result is a deafening noise. The message is plundered, distorted and twisted in multiple ways. The poor receiver gets either suspicious, confused or totally one-sided.

Perhaps, Shannon and Weaver knew a lot of what was coming. There is more linear communication, so many messengers, so much noise. The receiver is thoroughly confused on what to believe and what not to believe. The feedback loop is nonexistent or inconsequential in today’s world.

The message is now the medium.