- Claude E. Shannon
In 1947, Claude E. Shannon, a research mathematician working for Bell Labs, created a theory of communication designed to facilitate information transmission over telephone lines. Later, Warren Weaver added the component of feedback to ShannonÝs linear model, thus making it in effect circular. Although the originally intended to be used by engineers dealing with information that was void of ýmeaning,ţ the Shannon-Weaver Model is one of the most popular inter-personal communication models used today.
Within the Shannon-Weaver Model exist 8 key elements that are required for communication, or information transmission, to occur. These elements are:
To understand how the Shannon-Weaver Model pertains to communication, it is necessary to define each individual element.
The source of communication is the initiator, or origin, that puts the model into action. It is an individual or group that has a specific reason to begin the communication process. That is, there is a message that they wish another to receive.
Once the purpose of the source has been decided, there must be a specified format for the message to take. This is what the communication encoder does; it takes the concept that the source wants sent out, and puts it into a suitable format for later interpretation.
The information, idea, or concept that is being communicated from one end of the model to the other is the message. Most of the time, in human communication, the message contains a distinct meaning. When the model was created, Shannon and Weaver were not concerned whether the message had substance, but rather that it was being transmitted.
It is essential for meaningful communication that a suitable means to transmit the message be selected. The channel is the route that the message travels on, be it verbal, written, electronic, or otherwise.
It is inevitable that noise may come into play during the communication process. Noise could be considered an interference or distortion that changes the initial message; anything that can misconstrue the message may be noise. Noise can be physical, as in an actual sound that muffles the message as it is being said, or it can be semantic, like if the vocabulary used within the message is beyond the knowledge spectrum of its recipient. In order for communication to be effective, noise must be reduced.
Before the message reaches the intended recipient, it must be decoded, or interpreted, from its original form into one that the receiver understands. This is essentially the same interaction as that of source and encoder, only in a reversed sequence.
In order for communication to be executed, there must be a second party at the end of the channel the source has used. The receiver takes in the message that the source has sent out.
For meaningful communication to come to fruition, it is vital that the receiver provides feedback to the source. Feedback relates to the source whether their message has been received, and most importantly, if it has been interpreted accurately. Without feedback, the source would never know if the communication was successful. Ongoing communication is made possible by the cyclical route feedback allows; if more communication between the two parties is necessary, they can follow the model indefinitely.
By defining and understanding the various components of the Shannon-Weaver Model, an individual may utilize the model in their own communication endeavors.
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