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Medium As Communication Process Primitive

Davis Foulger, SUNY Oswego


Definition: Communication is the process of by which people construct representations of meaning such that other people can interpret those representations.

Fundamentals: Primitives and Propositions

Proposition 1: All communication is mediated.

Proposition 2: Communication is mediated by three separate but interrelated constructs: (1) the message, (2) the languages that the message is encoded in, and (3) the medium or media in which the encoded message is transmitted, stored, and/or processed.

Separating the Primitives

Proposition 3: When engaged in the process of communication, people act in two distinct roles: creator and consumer.

Proposition 4: Communication is instantiated in messages.

Proposition 5: Messages are instantiated using language and media.

Proposition 4.1: Communication is instantiated using languages and media.

Proposition 6: People must learn language and media in order to be able to create and interpret messages.

Proposition 7: People create (e.g. invent and evolve) languages and media.

From Proposition to Model

Crescendo: Language and Message

Proposition 5.1: Language shapes the possibilities associated with a message.

Proposition 8: Languages are instantiated using media.

Fortissimo: Medium and Message

Proposition 5.2: The medium shapes the possibilities associated with a message.

Implications: Creator, Consumer, and Message

Proposition 3.1: Neither the act of creating a message nor the act of consuming a message necessarily ensure that communication (e.g. the interpretation of represented meaning) will occur. One can not communicate, but it is consumers of messages, rather than creators of messages, who decide what will and will not be communicated. Creators of messages have very little control of the communication process once their message is in the medium.

Proposition 4.2: Messages are an approximation of the meaning a creator of messages intends.

Proposition 4.3: Interpretation of the messages consumed from a medium is approximate.

Proposition 9: Consumption of messages allows consumers to form perceptions of and even establish (at least in their own minds) relationships with the creators of messages.


-- Last edited September 18, 2015

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Unless otherwise noted, the contents of this page were written by participants on the Media Space Wiki, operated by Davis Foulger, and should be cited accordingly. For example (APA):
Foulger, D. and other participants. (September 18, 2015). Medium As Communication Process Primitive. MediaSpaceWiki. Retrieved on from
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