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Shannon and Weaver's model


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The most well-known and influential formal model of communication, developed in 1949 by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver (see communication models). It is a transmission model consisting of five elements: an information source, which produces a message; a transmitter, which encodes the message into signals; a channel, to which signals are adapted for transmission; a receiver, which decodes (reconstructs) the message from the signal; a destination, where the message arrives. A sixth element, noise, is a dysfunctional factor: any interference with the message travelling along the channel (such as static on the telephone or radio) which may lead to the signal received being different from that sent. For the telephone the channel is a wire, the signal is an electrical current in it, and the transmitter and receiver are the telephone handsets. Noise would include crackling from the wire. In face-to-face conversation, my mouth is the transmitter, the signal is the sound waves, and your ear is the receiver; noise would include any distraction you might experience as I speak. It is a very linear model; unlike later models it does not even include a feedback loop. Shannon and Weaver were mathematicians, and Shannon worked for Bell Telephone Laboratories. This work proved valuable for communication engineers in dealing with such issues as the capacity of various communication channels in bits per second, thus contributing to computer science. It led to very useful work on redundancy in language, and in making information measurable it gave birth to the mathematical study of information theory. Consequently it is hardly surprising that Shannon and Weaver's model is information-centred rather than meaning-centred, but this points to its limitations as a general model of human communication.

http://cm.bell-labs.com/cm/ms/what/shannonday/paper.html A Mathematical Theory of Communication

Subjects: Media Studies.


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