The way that we humans use symbols and signals to transmit information among each other in order to communicate is fundamentally different from the way that most animal species do it, specially if we take into account how we mediate this process through technology.
According to Manuel Bohn, a researcher in Stanford University inspired by the work of evolutionary psychologist Michael Tomasello, these processes evolved in humans to enable them to cope with an environment that required individuals to cooperate in order to survive. The cognitive processes that enable communication in humans involve intentional control over the production of communicative signals, the representation of others’ mental states, and the detailed tracking of shared experiences.
Communication is definitely a cybernetic process. As mathematician and philosopher Norbert Wiener wrote in his seminal book called “Cybernetics. Control and communication in the animal and machine” (1948) our actions taken in hope of achieving goals are connected to the information flow between the actor and the environment. Thus, the aim of cybernetics can be considered in terms of efforts relating to establishing a unifying language to explain the behaviour and cognition of all human and nonhuman organisms. As such, it continues to inform contemporary thinking and practices around information systems.
“Society can only be understood through a study of the messages and the communication facilities which belong to it; and that in the future development of these messages and communication facilities, messages between man and machines, between machines and man, and between machine and machine, are destined to play an ever-increasing part”, Norbert Wiener – The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society (1950).
Evolution in technologies of communication and advances in art have democratized and demystified the means of artistic production from a material space to another sphere where social interaction is the main characteristic. As french new media artist Fred Forest wrote in his text “For an Aesthetics of Communication“ (1984), nowadays the artist “intervenes directly on reality, that is to say the carries out his symbolic and aesthetic activity using different means from those he has used up to now”.
Therefore Communication Design is the planning of things that express information, data, emotion, culture and aesthetics. This approach is not only concerned with developing the message aside from the aesthetics in media, but also with creating new media channels to ensure the message reaches the target audience. Some of the skills of the Communication Designer include: visual art, graphic design, branding, development of interactive media like websites or APPs, information architecture, market research, trend spotting, data analysis, business strategy or journalism. Within the discipline of Communication, a framework for Communication as Design has emerged that focuses on redesigning interactivity and shaping communication affordances. Although psychologist James J. Gibson coined the term “affordance” in 1966 to specify what the environment offers the individual, nowadays affordance theory draws attention to the fit of the technology to the activity of the user and so lends itself to studying how ICTs may be appropriated by users or even misused.
As Artificial Intelligence pioneer Herbert Simon stated in his text “The Science of Design: Creating the Artificial“, design is the principal mark that distinguishes the professions from the sciences. Intellectually I firmly believe in the interchange of information between biological and artificial systems, but since I’m not a kid anymore nor a scholarship holder, I have to earn a decent living working with my professional skills. Therefore, in order to sustain my family, I’m a Communication Designer with a background in multimedia art, urban geography and cognitive science.
Please, do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information about my professional services…
*(Pictures: contenidoepi.co, unsplash.com & actuallywecreate.com).