Did knowledge exist before The Internet?

Not all comes from “The Matrix”,“The Da Vinci code”or Microsoft corp! Some seems to believe that knowledge about Communication, Interactivity, Social networks and Semantics came with the invention of the Internet?!?

It seems like far too many people in our business act like they know all the theories and wide range of buzz words flying around, and that it in fact knowledge “arrived” with the invention of the Internet! . Don’t buy into it. System developers, Business consultants, Key account managers and so forth, all to often seems to have never even read Emanuel Kant, or know what the H*** the old Greeks were up to ( NO, I didn’t miss spell ‘Geek’ !)

The ‘fun’ part is when you look at Communication theories the “modern” origin is not all that far from the binary system used as a basis for computer technology per see. Most modern communication theory seems to accept and often adapt the Shannon and Weaver’s theories (1949) that was developed to understand how telegraphy, telephone, and radio wave signals could be sent, and received without disturbances. From this very physical viewpoint we got the vocabulary extendend in the communication theories: ‘Information source’, ‘Message’. ‘Transmitter’, ‘Encode’ ‘Signals’, ‘Channel’, ‘Receiver’, ‘Decode’ (reconstruct) and the element of ‘Noise’, that makes effective transmission of communication dysfunctional. Shannon & Weaver were aware that his model didn’t address ‘meaning’ and stated: “These semantic aspects of communication are irrelevant to the engineering problem”(1948). But this limitation seems to have been forgotten by many of the ones working with communication theories later on. Still this model is widely accepted as one of the main seeds out of which communication studies has grown. The terminology in semantics and semiotics make use of the terms and emphasizes the ‘code’ and ‘decode’ elements of communication, to try to pinpoint the challenge of ‘meaning’.

My point is that it’s needed to get deeper into the set of ideas that has evolved since Aristotle’s ‘Rhetoric’s’, via a wide range of theoretical developments. Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, the Norwegian Jostein Gripsrud are just a few clues of further reading, all of them important to read. In my opinion, so is more general studies in Sociology such as Theodore W. Adorno and Pierre Bourdieu to name two examples. Especially in these times where we speak of Social networks, Communities, web 2.0 and Semantic web, sociology and anthropology are important readings to get a grasp of what communication and communities really are. Wikipedia is a great starting point and this article gives a lot of clues to further readings: Communication theory. And when you’re done with that – it’s time to pick up Jurgen Habermas and Ludwig Wittgenstein !

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