Communication is Key: Part 1

Over the course of the next few weeks or months, I will be rolling out articles about the use of Computers, Interface Design, How People Function, And Setting Product Goals During Design. However, I am not going to use the standard perspective of someone that knows so much about technology that they forget what the whole point of it is. I am not going to c0me from a completely user-centric perspective either. I am going to approach this using Communication Theory, that is not taught to many in the Tech Field.

Communication Theory in its broadest sense studies information exchange. To explain the whole ball of wax as simply as possible, and the view many boil it down to is this:

Message > Encoding > Medium > Receiver > Decoding > Meaning

then some include Feedback and concern themselves with the entire interaction.

The message is the information you wish to communicate to someone or something else. The Encoding is what you chose to say. The Medium is the form of communication. The Receiver is the thing you are communication with. Decoding is the understanding of the decoded message. And the Meaning is what the thing you are communicating with thinks you’re trying to say.

It gets much more complex then this obviously, and that’s where philosophy and psychology, symbology, etc. c0me in. There’s a lot of thought put into it by people in the Broadcast industry because it is often a one way connection. You have to make sure, the information to send is the same information that is received.

One of the biggest problems in communication is noise. Noise is the enemy of clear communications, and is the cause for misunderstandings. While people are familiar with auditory noise interfering with a spoken conversation such as at a loud club, or a concert. A lot of people aren’t aware of other noise that creeps into interactions. At every step in the process listed above there can be noise introduced that distorts the message or even destroys it.

By studying each part of the process of sending information, then understanding how errors can be in introduced, you can learn to lower the noise floor, and communicate more efficiently.

How does this relate to the IT and Computers? If you apply this to IT and computers and all your professional and personal interactions — and you are not out to take advantage or hurt anyone — you will increase your value to people, including your company. Things will be less problematic for you, you’ll probably have less problems with people*, be able to use your resources more effectively, and save time by streamlining your world. All of this is possible without cutting any corners. You might have to spend a bit of money if you’re not using the right tools for the job, but in the long run you’ll save resources (including money).

*I have never spoken to anyone that has never had a problem communicating with anyone. I have never spoken to anyone that has not had to deal with someone at their work that they can’t stand because that person either can’t or won’t communicate clearly, or essentially cares only about themselves or their goals. I’ll show you how to deal with these people later.

Now most of what I’m going to say you already know, but you might not know that you know it. Interested? Then come back for the next entry of many.

This is my current list of article titles. I may grow or shirk as I add new topics and combine ones that are intricately linked together.

The Medium and the Message: Choosing the right medium

Noise in each Medium

How to GetInfo from users of all levels

Why One Size Does Not Fit All: Interfaces, Structures and Systems

IT: Why many Executives fail to understand the importance of IT in their infrastructure

IT purpose Managers often forget

IT goals Techs Forget

IT & end users: Tech Support is not just for Problems

Computers vs. People: What each is good and bad at.

The Brain: What really does, why and for what purpose

How to design an interface for people

UI Principles & What we can learn from the evolution of Input Devices

GUI eye Candy: Frivolity vs. Function

UI Feedback: The Goldilocks Syndrome

Spotting a Good App

Deciding which features to include: a Method to the Madness

Why “The customer is always right” is wrong

Excel is not a Database!

How many digits is that code?

Tying it all together

Where to go from here?

Current Planned Article Count: 20. Articles Written: 1


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