Shannon-Weaver Model

If you have looked through the examples of typical everyday forms of communication, you will have noticed that some of the examples refer to less immediate methods of communication than face-to-face interaction, e.g. using the radio, newspapers or the telephone. In these cases, technology is introduced.

When, for instance, the telephone is used, you speak, the phone turns the sound waves into electrical impulses and those electrical impulses are turned back into sound waves by the phone at the other end of the line.

Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver produced a general model of communication:

Model of communication shannon-weaver(click to enlarge)

This is now known after them as the Shannon-Weaver Model. Although they were principally concerned with communication technology, their model has become one which is frequently introduced to students of human communication early in their study. However, despite the fact that it is frequently used early in the study of human communication, I think it’s worth bearing in mind that information theory, or statistical communication theory was initially developed to separate noise from information-carrying signals. That involved breaking down an information system into sub-systems so as to evaluate the efficiency of various communication channels and codes. You might ask yourself how viable the transfer of Shannon’s insights from information theory to human communication is likely to be. The concepts of information theory and cybernetics are essentially mathematical and are intended to be applied to technical problems under clearly defined conditions. After you’ve read this section, which, I think, is a reasonable attempt to loosely apply Shannon’s ideas to human communication, ask yourself whether you feel enlightened.