Monday, 14 October 2013


How does communication work as a process?

Today's seminar is focusing on  linear communication within design, the design process and the audience. The model runs from A to B etc, which doesn't run a full circle allowing for continuous feedback which can create critique.

Below is an example of how the model works within verbal communication:

Sender :  The originator of message or the information source selects desire message. 
Encoder : The transmitter which converts the message into signals.
Note: The sender’s messages converted into signals like waves or Binary data which is compactable to transmit the messages through cables or satellites. For example: In telephone the voice is converted into wave signals and it transmits through cables.
Decoder : The reception place of the signal which converts signals into message. A reverse process of encode.
Note : The receiver converts those binary data or waves into message which is comfortable and understandable for receiver. Otherwise receiver can’t receive the exact message and it will affect the effective communication between sender and receiver.
Receiver : The destination of the message from sender.
Note : Based on the decoded message the receiver gives their feed back to sender. If the message distracted by noise it will affect the communication flow between sender and receiver.
Noise:  The messages are transferred from encoder to decoder through channel. During this process the messages may distracted or affected by physical noise like horn sounds, thunder and crowd noise or encoded signals may distract in the channel during the transmission process which affect the communication flow or the receiver may not receive the correct message.
Note : The model is clearly deals with external noises only which affect the messages or signals from external sources. For example: If there is any problems occur in network which directly affect the mobile phone communication or distract the messages.
For Example:
Practical Example of  Shannon-Weaver model of communication :
Thomson made call to his assistant “come here I want to see you”.  During his call, noise appeared (transmission error) and his assistant received “I want” only. Again Assistant asked Thomson (feedback) “what do you want Thomson”.
Sender       :   Thomson
Encoder     :   Telephone (Thomson)
Channel     :   Cable
Noise          :   Distraction in voice
Reception  :   Telephone (Assistant)
Receiver     :   Assistant.
The model below shows the various parts of communication. This was generally used in the war, communicating via radio, but is used to work out the effectiveness of communication as well as improving methods of telecommunications as well as face to face.

Channel Capacity

Laswell's Maxim: "Who says what in what channel to whom with what effect?"

This model was used for the US Military. Communications were split into 5 distinct stages. It allowed room to show error for improvement through a very simple model. It shows how one stage easily flows to the second.

1. Information Source
2. Transmitter (Encoder) 
     e.g. telephone
3. Channel 
     e.g. telephone line
4. Receiver (Decoder) 
    e.g. other person's telephone
5. Destination

The noise source are any problems which interferes with the communication process:

For example, poor signal on telephones or a broken line. There can however be a noise source for each category, especially in relevance with graphic design.

Noise can be anything such as too many opinions, or different companies fighting for a pitch etc, which all get in the way of the design process. 

There can also be issues relating to ethics when talking about noise. Personal design style/chosen aesthetic, fussy/interfering clients etc can affect the noise affecting the encoding and overall message.

Limitations of the media or technology problems.What products are your adverts being placed in between? And what channel? This surrounds and interferes the message.  

People can interpret a message in different ways, this is also noise. This is such as visual noise (i.e. those who are colour blind) and prior knowledge. 

Destination can be affected by word--of-mouth, popular opinion and subcultural opinion (brands, prejudices)

The Process of Graphic Design through Communication:

1. Information Source - Problem/Subject Matter Becomes Apparent 
2. Transmitter - Encoding an Idea into a Particular Language.
3. Channel - Design Process & Refinement of Physical Design
4. Receiver - Audience Decoding Design & Response Communicated
5. Destination - Problem Visually Solved

We discussed the above in groups and came up with our own list with is paraphrased above. Amongst the class there were different approaches taken to this model in relevance to graphic design. Some were based around communication, whilst others were more so suited to the design process itself.

Barriers of Communication between stages of the Shannon and Weaver Model with relevance to Graphic Design:

1. Original Information can be misinterpreted
    Wrong Information given 
    Not enough

2. The language chosen may be wrong for the audience/consideration
    Lack of Concept 
    Time Allowances
    Feedback from audience and decoders

3. 'Noise' may not be understood so the problem cannot be solved fully
    Printing Problems
    Context of the channel can affect decoding
    Ensure the right processes and production methods
    Consider limitations of the channel being used, i.e. (watershed on tv for adverts, etc)

4. Message can be decoded or misinterpreted
    Taking criticism on design work/feedback
    Not enough information about the audience
    Language used in body copy (audience, destination, tone of voice, slang, colloquialisms) 
    Not enough research
    Encode the information into the audiences' specific language

5. Lack of feedback
    Response from audience/client - Either Positive or Negative 

Checking Information, carrying out more research, further consultation and clearer conversation with the client can allow of clearer conversation, which will result in a better outcome/destination.

Communication Problems:

Level A - Technical/Techniques Problems:
How accurately can the message be transmitted?
Level B - Semantic Problems:
How precisely is the message conveyed? 
Semantics and meaning of the message.
Level C - Effectiveness Problems
How effectively does the received meaning affect behaviour?

Level A
Time Allowances
Ensuring use of correct print processes
Limitations of the Channel being used, i.e. Watershed.
Problems with technologies/software being used
Problems with skill set/techniques

Level B
Misinterpretation of the message/brief
Not enough information/lack of research
Language choices used (slang, audience, tone of voice etc)
Encoding information into the audiences' specific language
Context of the channel after decoding
Colour scheme
Visual aesthetics

Level C
Response from the client/audience
Feedback/lack of feedback, both positive and negative
Do the semantics/language choices used relate to tone and audience 
Misinterpretation of the message
Channel being used; is it the most effective?


For creatives sometimes noise can be the medium you want to visually communicate through, so it isn't always seen as negative as shown above in the Shannon-Weaver model. Noise can be changed or challenged in the channel of communication. 

Subversive noise can be such as the following in order to be political etc. This is often seen with street art/graffiti when it is employed as a channel of a message even though the art form chosen is usually seen as a 'noise'. 

Used for controversial statements as a problem and a solution.

Redundancy VS Entropy:

Something that provides no resistance to the communication act. 
For example, a redundant telephone line will have no technical faults, or affecting communication. 

High predictability due to low information. Usually conventional, efficient, understandable, scripted or predictable.

People trying to make their message easily understood, will adapt their messages to be readable, conventional and easy to understand and pass on. This would be a redundant method of communication and is used to achieve high speed, efficiency and complete understanding with minimal communication.

Allows thought for social codes - coding and decoding.

Usually used with mass communication, politically conservative and by it's nature doesn't change or challenge, it flows with the usually conventions and assumptions known by society. It follows the status quo. 

Communication isn't always smooth, but often turns into something else. 

The term 'Entropic' is often associated with organised/chaos, and general organisation/ un organisation. 

Low predictability and unconventional, due to high loads of information. 

Usually things or topics which are Entropic, aren't normally understood straight away. Graffiti is more entropic than billboards for example, due to being 'noisier' and not as straight forward or to the point.

Occasionally tactical or planned (usually for attention in 'noisy spaces') to provoke thought and question from audience?

Designers find ways to maximise redundant information to reduce barriers and miscommunication. 

- - - -


Using the model, and the levels (a, b, c), find a piece of graphic design and write a  contextual and social analysis on it, based on Shannon and Weaver's model.

What are the main communicative functions of redundancy?
What do we mean by saying the English language is 50% redundant?
Discuss the ways in which convention can be said to facilitate understanding. 
Think of visual communication that breaks or extend specific conventions.
How does this affect the desire to communicate to the audience they reach?