Today I was reminded of Stuart Hall’s complication of Shannon & Weaver’s model of the logic of communication (the S->M->R model). Hall describes a process whereby which transactions are complicated by intentions and meaning.
At each stage a message is met by the sender encoding meaning (and producing meaning based on the context of their experiences and production values/choices) and a receiver decoding meaning (often not entirely related to the sender’s intentions at all). The point of intersection is the recognition of the message as a conduit.
I was also reminded of the important aphorism that it is impossible to not communicate. A colleague of mine defines this as silence. In law it is called fiduciary responsibility. In ethics (and elsewhere) it can be defined as tacit consent. There is a layer of meaning circulation that transcends and betrays us when we assume that people get the drift of what we are communicating.
In this layer of invisibility intentions are lost and interpretations are variable. But the overall enterprise, communication as a fundamental conduit of our interaction with the world, occurs in this space of invisibility – a space that were we to make it obvious to ourselves would reduce many frustrations and open up channels of more fruitful discussion.