What is communication? According to the dictionary, what is communication is defined as “…a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior…” Basic communication theory posits four basic components for the successful completion of transmitting information (in a human context); the sender (or encoder), the message, the medium by which the message/information is sent (e.g., written, oral, audio, visual), and the receiver or target of the communication information (decoder). Any disruption, garbling, malfunction, etc. at any point of that communication sequence could result in the failure of a successful communication.
Starting with the sender, there is the complexity of human language itself. The message must be formatted correctly, with proper grammar, syntax, noun sequencing, and even pronunciation. If the encoder of the message speaks too rapidly, too slowly, mixes up words, has garbled speech, and so on; these can all affect how clearly the message is first delivered into the communication sequence. People afflicted with schizophrenia appear to speak clearly, but the speech is incoherent, what is referred to as “word salad”. Thus the origin of the message is already faulty.
Understandable & Coherent
The message itself must be understandable and coherent. Just linking random words together does not comprise an intelligent message. The complexity of the message is also a factor. For example, “The day is dark” is a different complexity level from “nanotechnological advances will accelerate the transition to transhuman and cyborg evolutionary jumps”. It may be difficult for a neuro-scientist to deliver an intelligible message to a kindergartener. The knowledge and intelligence level of both sender and receiver must be factored into the message linking process.
The medium by which the message is transmitted can be faulty. For example, passing a written paper to someone isn’t going to effectively communicate the message if the ink or words on the paper are blurred. A video transmission can be shaky or unclear. The audio sequence could be distorted. Simple noise can interfere with audio, as well as visual communication. There are environmental distractions, such as a cold or hot room, loud sounds or music, or someone talking loudly can all detract from the message medium. Video is particularly susceptible to various forms of interference.
Finally there is the receiver, or decoder of the message. To clearly answer what is communication must also factor in the psychological, physical, and even physiological condition of the message recipient. If the receiver/decoder is hungry, physically sick, mentally ill or disoriented, all these can factor into whether a message/communication was received clearly. As mentioned previously, someone with a low level of education is not going to understand a message delivered from a higher order of complexity. It would be difficult to deliver a message on, say, celestial mechanics, to someone who never completed the eighth grade! The message recipient must be fully focused, attentive, and concentrating of whatever communication is being sent their way. There are many different ways for a communication sequence to be intentionally disrupted, such as propaganda techniques, misinformation, and even disinformation. The question of what is communication should be addressed depending on the intended recipients and medium used to deliver the messages.