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Communication Theories and Technology

A review of the Literature

The study of mass media and communication has led to the development of many theories. These theories are structural and functional. These theories believe that social structures occur in real time and function in a way that is objective. Cognitive and behavioral theories are the ones that tend to focus on the psychology of individuals. Interactions represent theories that view social life as steps of interaction. An interpretive theory explains how people understand their own experience in the actual sense. Finally, critical theories evaluate the concerns and interests of the society in conflict and the way in which communication enhances dominance of one group of the individual over the others (Cuel, 4 April 2013).

Modern mass communication bases of sociology and psychology were constituted a little way before the World War II. In the current information society, people are encountering the use of information and communications technology. The ranges of interactive modes of communications have become useful in day-to-day lives. The discovery of modern digital, optic, fiber, and data packet switching technologies has revolutionized the way in which communication is being done today. These technologies have made internet and customization of satellite-based communications possible. Further devices, such as satellite mobile phones and global positioning systems, have been developed owing to these technologies  (Cocker, 2001). In most cases, people are not even conversant with the coverage which these technologies have pre-conditioned even their simplest of activities such as communication. Nevertheless, this inadequacy in awareness does not overly indicate that people have become overloaded with information, technology, or even images, as some people put it. The saturation of media tends to lean on the side of encouraging the views of some form of unmediated experience as well as impersonal levels of instructive media. The attachment media of communication can be immensely personal and meaningful, as it is embodied to this relationship (Cocker, 2001).

The exponential development of web communication information technologies led to a shift in the way in which communication is conducted. Face-to-face communication is now being replaced by interface methods of communication. This is expressed by technological terminals and communication devices which gain life in their own way. According to the conducted research studies, high attachments to the communications media have been evident. This is either expressed due to people’s need to have a television set in their background in spite of not watching it or the fact that many internet users download their emails or have securities in their mobile phones even if they seldom use them. Behind the surface contacts that people have with these systems, there lies a definite social relationship (Viardot, 2004). These relationships between the new communications and information technologies allow an extension of time and space. The ways in which these extensions are conducted can only be considered within the relationship where the technology itself is capable of giving independence from the function of extension of the pre-virtual relationships, which take different forms of referees in these communications.

Impact of technology on communication theory

In general, one of the main ways in which the new technologies are affecting mass communication is the use control of over the communication process. Examples of communication media, such as cable television and video tapes, are giving audiences more access to specialized programs and materials (Gouge, 2003). Further use of video texts and telexes affords users a wide selection of the choices of news, stories, and other information. Currently, many homes have computers where access of programs such as CompuServe, which is service information in the computer technology, can be established. In this case, “Quest”, which is a service in CompuServe, gives users a remarkably wide range of databases that are filled with information in subjects. It also offers a large number of forums or peculiar interest groups that deal with specialized topics. These groups allow people who are interested in the same topic to communicate with one another (Council, 2010). This has way changed the way in which communication used to be done in the past. The reason is that people do not choose the messages for audiences and impose on them, but they are rather shared between people having equal, less, or more interest on the subject interest topics. Further, control over mass communication is also availed by VCRs.

Another effect of technology on communication is shifting away from the ideal central broadcasting or publishing organization.  This selectivity is due to the new technology creating the stability that has been missing in mass communication. In the current dispensation, the audience and producer of information are treated in the same manner to control the flow of information. This devolution of communication owing to the new technology has been witnessed in the U.S government printer, where there have been plans for the next 10 years to have information disseminated through individual agencies or electronic mails as well as floppy disks, magnetic tapes, and on line data bases.

The difference between passivity and activity together with that between mediated and unmediated forms of communication falls within the paradigm of interactivity. This is based on face-to-face interaction or analog transmission of the message.  In communication theory, there is a long-standing preference for transmission model, and it is largely attributed to the prevalence of interaction as a basic building block for communication. From this, various accounts of communication can be built.

Considering the prominence in the ways in which the technology is extended, communications have become integrated dominantly in the many modes of communication. This means that ideally, some unmediated face-to-face sense of community is a reaction to the pervasiveness of these forms of extended communication. On the other hand, integration theories look at the background communications. This information provides a hierarchy of potential assemblies such as pubic, institutional, or virtual ones. They are independent of individual communication acts. The independence of these activities is crucial. In some cases, the telephone conversation can be extended as face-to-face communication (Holmes, 2005).

On this trend, which is aimed at having greater control and activities of communication, communication theorists and model analysts will have to shift to theories and models that are in recognition of the role of interactivity that is played by the new media. In this case, there should be theories that do not focus more on the effects of communication but lay more emphasis on the methods in which the audiences are using the information that they are receiving. The importance to the uses and gratification of the messages might be the cause of this anticipated shift. In addition, the emergence of cable televisions and to some extent VCRs means that communication theorists should change the way in which they think about audiences and especially those of televisions. This is because television is no longer thought of as a uniform or monolithic mode of transmitting essential messages almost to everyone. This realization causes ramifications to a number of theories in communication. This is mostly to the theories who assume that televisions can be used to transmit uniform messages.

Use of new technology in communication

Unlike the old technology, the new technology is supposed to be viewed as the technology of power that locks the existing structures of technology rather than technologies of freedoms. This is because, in today’s world, technology is playing a dual role. It opens up centralization of authority, control, and communication in the modern industrial state on one hand and supplies alternative avenues for cultural resistance and opposition forces for ideological mobilizations on the other one The large media houses, such as national press, are identified with concentrating forces on focal points. However, the small media, such as social networks, are the principal avenues for community resistances and mobilizations. In this case a, an argument that the new communication has provided avenues for both the privileged and underprivileged is fronted.

An increase in all forms of communication is its person to person or other forms of communication that are promised by the rise in the number of new technologies. However, the fact remains that for communication to take place, communicators must be equipped with or have access to the devices of communication. This statement overlooks this fact. There is also the need for these new technologies to address human needs. For example, the telecommunication technologies should address the world’s most serious problems such as poverty, drought, hunger, famine crime, and terrorism. From this point of view, communication that does not address the sudden needs of the human is not necessary useful to human society despite being effective in increasing communications between large numbers of people. Technical media of communications, such as print, analog technology, and digital communications, are distinguished to store information and reproduce it. Moreover, this is the case in mass media communication. This is coupled with the capability and availability of participation.

The internet is a super medium, which is capable of strongly realizing the above attributes. Technical and institutional apparatuses of transmission of culture do not only produce time space relations but also respond to them (Holmes, 2005). Key aspects of mass communication are mostly challenged by the use of the internet as a super medium. The internet is a relatively open system of communication that does not need a large system for content production. On the internet, there is no equalization of the sender and the receiver, but there is a blurred dichotomy between the two. However, this may vary from encounter to another. The internet allows the availability of time space enhancements to the degree of institutional arrangements. Large masses of information can now be stored in websites of many organizations. This is advantageous, as it provides a round the clock communication with the clients.

Many organizations and governments have set as a priority the acquisition of new technologies. This is because the latters are viewed as a key to the growth of the economy. However, there is urging by governments to control and regulate the use of communication technologies by organizations engaging in unauthorized activities (Naveed, 2013).

For most parts of the human history, communication had been conducted through its face-to-face type. The scope of this form of communications has evolved in most institutions. The rise of new types of communication or integration has led to the emergence of new social fields and changes in work places, leisure times, and public or private divisions. However, the most significant change has been experienced in the social integration. Interaction is the involvement of the empirical acts through extension or mutual respect. On the other hand, some of reciprocating that happens due to interdependence, continued association, or strong identification with a group of other or even an abstract other cause social integration.

In modern media of communication, there is the concentration of power as opposed to what is done in other social institutions such as churches. The contemporary media dominate these spheres in a way that in the end, they start dominating the entirely social landscape. The media solely exercise the virtual monopoly in the power of naming and identifying situations.

Any organization is often viewed as a system that takes the unequivocal number of information from its environment. This information is later used to try to make sense out of it so as it is used in the future. Through the process of making sense of themselves and their environment, organizations are said to undergo evolution. Technologies are systems that are implemented in an environment that is complex, and, thus, impossible to foresee its positive or negative effects. Communication is an essential component in an organization due to its role in the sense making process.

The structuration theories further show that technologies and social structures have a strong interrelation, and they are interdependent. According to these theories, there exists a strong relation and interdependence between human actions, technology, and institutional roles in the organizations. The design of communication should be strongly influenced by the roles of the organization. The introduction of such technology forces people to understand the process of the designed system, and this will be coupled with changing their traditional theories. In the adoption of the new process, the new activities, beliefs, and expectations are adopted in the end. Moreover, they might change the structure of the organization. When the traditional activities are different from those that are embedded in the system, people tend to desert the systems and revert to how they used to work before, thus, retaining a stable-working environment. The choices of changing a channel of communication and failing to adopt a new method of information communication technology depend on people’s capability of adopting and working with the new technology (Bryfonski, 2012).

It is imperative to ask whether the channel of communication or the valuable level of technology affects communication process, as these two are key factors that promote the growth of the economy. In an organization, communication involves the internal process that is internal communication, which happens within the organization, and external communication, which is the communication with the outside functions of the company.

Conclusion

There are many theories of communication, and they exist mostly in response to mass media communication. These theories highlight the relationship between transfers of information from one media to another, which is the main aim of communication. The development of technology has led to change in how these theories have been interpreted (Laudon, 2000). The emergence of cable television and VCRs has mostly revolutionized the traditional face-to-face mode of communication. However, other technological advances, such as the development of technical media like print and digital devices, have also played a crucial role in the process of communication. However, the discovery of computer and internet, which is a super medium of communication, has considerable advances in the way in which information is stored by organizations.