Communication At Its Core

Communication is something I have never really thought of in depth until reading the first couple chapters of James Gleick’s “The Information”, however, the idea that communication is not so different at its core despite the many different ways that people communicate caught my attention immediately. Whether it be in written form, sounds, expressions, or spoken language the way we as people have communicated throughout history has changed drastically while taking on different forms. Knowing more about such differences made me wonder just how similar computing and written language are, especially when thinking in terms of communicating with one another.

Now I know close to nothing about computing, and as soon as any kind of numbers come into play I quite literally do not know what is happening. When I think of communication, coding and computers are not what come into mind at all, unless I am typing out and email or writing an essay. However, even those little symbols in a CSS file have their own meaning, and communicate in their own way just as spoken language or written word does. Although even words themselves do not communicate in the simplistic, more easy to understand way, I thought they did. 

Words and language in general play such a vital role in our communication today, especially to me being an English major who loves to write using them. But what we write, alongside the languages we’ve developed for that writing, has been in a way undermined by Plato. Plato is a philosopher I have read certain works of before, though when I think of writing I do not necessarily think of how human beings use it primarily as a reminder, especially when it comes to communicating their thoughts and being. Plato has stated this about writing, that “You have invented an elixir not of memory but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom”. When I first started to think about such a statement, I thought that it would not be entirely true. My only basis for this was my initial belief that myself, along with many others I find it safe to assume have read something externally or personally profound, such as a piece of writing that communicated something that had lasting impact. That I have inherited a lot of wisdom from people I have never met, but I realized this was not entirely true. Writing as a form of communication is agreeably flawed in Plato’s analysis due to its inherent structure. Yes, writing is capable of teaching and communicating many things, but at the cost of us naturally remembering what we learn and taking it in differently. But does that really matter when thinking in terms of how communication is actually not so different at its center regardless of what form it’s in. 

The idea of communication in of itself did not change, whether it was through reading a written novel or how a CSS file does it, it gives information. It gives us all something talk about and even further communication.

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