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Prof. Philip M. Taylor, History of Communications. Why study the history of communications?. The importance of communication(s). Comes from the Latin ‘communicare’ = to impart, share or make common

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Prof. Philip M. Taylor, History of Communications

Why study the history of communications?


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The importance of communication(s)

  • Comes from the Latin ‘communicare’ = to impart, share or make common

  • It is to the 21st century what oil and gas were to the 20th – the engine that drives politics, economics, education, military affairs, culture and entertainment

  • It is two-way, although it is linked to rhetoric (or oratory as a form of developing logical, ordered arguments to achieve wisdom)


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Point-to-point and point-to-multipoint

  • P2P is a private conversation, a telephone call, an email, text message i.e. between a single sender and a single receiver

  • P2MP is a movie, radio or television programme, a web 1.0 web page, a newspaper i.e. between a single source (which may be one or many people) and many receivers (who may be in different locations)

  • 21st century (web 2.0) communications is interactive (i.e. two way in which the receiver can also be active and not passive)


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Why study the history of communications?

  • Because without an understanding of where it comes from, how it has been used and abused, the lessons of the past cannot inform the decisions of the future

  • It is what makes our age back to our grandparents unique in human history, like no other period before the age of mass communications

  • Mediated communication makes us as individuals dependent on others (e.g. journalists) for our view of the world, for the ‘pictures inside our heads’ (Walter Lippmann), beyond our personal experience

  • Common experience (e.g. of a movie) does not remove individual perception nor guarantee ‘shared visions’


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One intellectual framework

  • The Tofflers’ three waves of societal development:

  • First wave is agrarian

  • Second wave is industrial

  • Third wave is post-industrial or ‘post-modern’ or informational

  • The way states generate money in peacetime is reflected by the way they wage war

  • Hence Information Society and Information Warfare today


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Harold Lasswell’s model

  • Who (says) What (to) Whom (in) What Channel (with) What Effect

  • Need to add the question ‘why’?

  • To inform, educate or entertain (BBC)? =

  • News, current affairs, soaps/reality TV

  • How much can be shown?

  • Censorship or self-censorship or regulation?

  • Run ‘Violence in the News’


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