Elizabeth McElligott's Study Guide Blog

Monday, October 25, 2004

Social Network Analysis

The social network analysis visually identifies the certain measures of communication between anyone (groups, organizations) or anything (computers). The nodes refer to the people and groups who do the actual sending and receiving of messages, while the links show the communication's direction. In order to fully understand the purpose of a network, one must fully understand the participants who make up that network. "A chain is only as strong as the weakest link."

When determining the centrality of a node, one is really measuring the network's location in measures of: 1) Degrees- the number of direct connections a node has, or in my own words, "how popular" a node is. In dealing within a circle of friends, "the more, the better" is also a rarely true or honest statement. What really matters is how many true friends you have, or how they connect you when you seem to be unconnected. 2)Betweenness-referring to a node's location within a network. If you have high betweenness, then you play a very powerful and influential role within the network because others solely rely on you for direction. Like Beth suggests, "Bob"who plays on both the soccer and football team can be considered a bridge between the football and soccer players...without Bob, the two teams are socially alienated. 3) Closeness- the pattern, or length, of paths linked to others can greatly affect communication efficiency and how fast information flows within the network.

Boundary spanners are crucial within the SNA because they are the central nodes that are responsible for connecting all the local nodes together so that they ultimately form an organization. The peripheral players, although not central, are crucial in developing relationships outside of the company. If an organization does not know what the world is demanding, or their competition, then they would fail from blindness outside of the company. Like the skin being the most important organ on the human body, the nodes on the periphery are most important when considering a network's survival.

Like Carrie said, this model's downfall lies in the fact that it only shows communication network in a strategic form. The value, or quality, of information should also be worthy of considering, not just the way nodes are linked. It is important for an organization to be aware of the relationships between nodes because this information reveals the network's overall ability to communicate with one another, which is a crucial element in the mixture of success.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Meanings in the Network

I think it's safe to say that meanings are in people, not words, because people have different backgrounds, cultures, religions etc... that lead them to take on various interpretations of a word, and of life. But on a larger scale, meanings really lie within the networks because a person's existence, and role, within a specific network characterizes what kind of person he or she is. His family assigns specific beliefs, cultures and attitudes to him at birth. I believe the network refers to the sign system that you are born into, therefore in a sense, the type of person you will become is already planned out, thus representing the belief in predetermination. I think a person has the ability to make choices in his life, but the network ultimately gives meaning to the way you perceive yourself, how you perceive the world, and how others perceive who you are. Like Brynn suggests, this notion of predetermination can cause disagreement with faith. "The New Testament contains a number of accounts of disagreements and factions among the earliest believers...the vast majority of subcodes among Christians have arisen from disagreements over numerous issues within the faith."

If I was born into a Hinduist family, then I would obviously be a completely different person, regardless if my genes were still the same, because I would be raised within a completely different culture who looks at the world with a different attitude. Like Cyndi says, if you aren't familiar with a particular subcode, then you would not understand what is trying to be communicated, much less understand what anything stands for. In a sense, this refers to the importance of nurture in the concept of nature vs. nurture and how other's influence our attitude. A person's position in a certain culture indicates a certain signifier. Since any signifier is really another signifier, your predetermined signifier indicates the network you belong to, thus representing who you are and what you stand for, or your symbol. Using Saussure's model, I think one could say that a person's culture, attitudes and beliefs can be considered the "signified" and the person himself can be the "signifier". My strange connection with the network of signs proves the fact that signs create meanings by pointing to other signs.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Shannon and Weaver II

Shannon and Weaver's communication model failed to explain how codes and semantics work in human communication. Ferdinand de Saussure developed the structure of linguistics and semantics. Saussare pointed out how all symbols are part of the sign, which only has meaning in relation to all other signs. The sign consists of the "signified", which is the concept, or definition, that the signifier refers to. The signifier is the symbol, or the words that are attached to that meaning.

Saussure stated that linguistics looks at signs in their context in which it lies and we can use these signs in place of symbols. In Shannon and Weaver's model, the "language" replaces the information source and the "speech" replaces the message. Personally, I think the word "speech" is the incorrect term to use, because not all communication is verbal. In fact, about 95% of communication is nonverbal. The signified/signifier (the sign) replaces the position of the binary code.

Roman Jakobson, the founder of modern linguistics, added on to the approach of how to communicate information between speakers. He took Saussure's language and called it a code with subcodes, which is an overlapped system of meanings. Like Aubrey said in her post, information can be associated with freedom and a high level of uncertainty. If the source and destination share the same language, every source and informative message has an extremely high level of freedom and entropy.

I, like Dominique, also disagree with Elizabeth's statement that the model lacks human communication. I think she might have misinterpreted this statement because the model doesn't lack human communication, but like I said earlier, the model fails to explain how the codes work in human communication. The source will probably never change because the English language will be around for ever, yet due to the increasing technological advances, the transmission will adapt in order to fit human's needs, or better yet, desires.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Shannon & Weaver

Shannon and Weaver's Transmission Model clearly demonstrates how and why the simplest form of communication can be distorted and misunderstood. When you transmit a message across additional means, you are adding complexity to the communication process. Shannon and Weaver's model sought to identify the most efficient and quickest way to get a message from one point to another. They were aiming at the discovery of how communication language could be converted into electronic signals with minimum error.

Gilbert spoke in class about how redundancy and information share an inverse relationship. At first, I thought this concept wasn't very accurate, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. "Information", as Shannon and Weaver describe it, is "a measure of one's freedom of choice when one selects a message." Redundancy is the opposite of information in the sense that it doesn't reveal any new information (although all information is practically new). Redundancy is critical in Shannon and Weaver's concept of communication because it fights off noise, or any factor that works against the predictability of the communication process. I think that if a message removes a large portion of uncertainty, then that message is very informative. When something is completely random(or entropic), then it is completely uncertain, and therefore contains a lot of information. On the other hand, if something is completely predictable, it is completely certain, and therefore contains very little or no information.

Shannon and Weaver's model has its limitations and inadequacies. First of all, it's a one level model that doesn't distinguish signal and message, or syntax and semantics. The model does not illustrate the complex communication process that undoubtedly includes feedback, whether it be verbal or nonverbal. Shannon and Weaver's model also does not explain how codes work in human communication-what are the codes and how are they deciphered?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Dave Matthews is Jammin!!! Posted by Hello

Jack Johnson Concert, Central Park, NY Posted by Hello

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Chapter 2

For the most part, I think Chapter 2 is an interpersonal communication lesson. The most important message here is that the interpretation of a message can be completely distorted if the source and receiver does not understand the important elements of communication.

I think it's very important to know who you are talking to before you decide exactly what to say. Our
cultures and backgrounds can be the reason why we have different meanings of certain words, and if we think everyone is exactly like us, then we will miscommunicate our message and maybe offend others.

I thought what Danielle said about redundancy in her post was interesting. In one of my other classes, we learned about those cultures that rely entirely on
orality and use no form of writing. I certainly agree with Danielle that using less words and getting to your point as quickly as possible is more effective than being redundant, but in this oral culture, they see redundancy as a great way to reinterpret ideas and to make a great point. This is much different from our culture...which brings me to my point that communication is so different across the world, and we should be well aware of that when communicating with others we don't know very well.

Messages aren't always distorted by the source and/or receiver, but also by the way they are transmitted. Like
Melissa Mendoza suggested, "the more people who stand between the source and the receiver, the less likely the message will be delivered correctly." We played that game called telephone in one of my classes and it was hilarious how inefficient the message was received.

I do like the definition the book uses for organizational communication: the process by which individuals stimulate meaning in the minds of other individuals by means of verbal and nonverbal messages in the context of a formal organization. I think it's important to place as much emphasis, if not more, on how important the nonverbal message is in comparison to the verbal message.

Chapter 1

The information provided in Chapter 1 was completely opposite from what I expected to read. As mentioned in class, I would have liked to learn the history of organizations and how they developed over the years. To me, Chapter 1 was merely a handbook filled with advice and guidance for those entering into the workplace. Although this is valuable information for every student's future, I think it would have been more helpful to give a clearer basis of the history of organizational communication, not how to be successful within one.

I was a little confused as to what the difference is between a "nonprofit" and "not-for-profit" organization. After reading Sarah's post, I realized I was a part of a non-profit organization when I was younger. I was part of a gymnastics team who, besides competing nationally and internationally, we did an exhibition at the Olympics and went to different elementary schools and performed "talent shows." Each gymnast had their own, specific role and performance, but we put our talents together to form a great gymnastics team.

One of the characteristics of organizations, "similarity", made me think a little differently. I understand that, for the most part, organizations want people who are the same, but I have to argue that this is impossible. An organization must have diverse people who have different talents and abilities, therefore these people can't possibly be the same type of people.

For instance, when I worked at NBC this summer, I realized how diverse our department was, but I believe that is why it works so well. Our president was this loud and obnoxious man who was always on peoples' cases to be sure they were doing their work properly. Then we had the editors and producers who were so quiet and always kept to themselves, because they were probably just busy using the creative sides of their brains. By meeting hundreds of different people, I noticed how diverse they were in regards to social class, race, sex, backgrounds, religion, etc...As long as everyone shares the same work ethic, I believe it's the diversity that makes an organization thrive.

I completely agree with Rosalyn in saying that all healthy relationships are based on good communication. Communicating or not communicating with someone can lead to a disastrous relationship break up. If you can't express how you feel, or listen to how other people feel, then you have absolutely nothing to give or take.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Vera Wang

Vera Wang is the most unbelievable designer to have walked this earth...the wedding dresses are amazing. Although I can't afford to touch anything she makes, it's still so much fun looking.


Well I'm in love with 311-have been since the 7th grade. Don't you love when great music brings back some great memories? Check it out-

Ski Trip

In January, almost one thousand students are going on this bad ass ski trip in Crested Butte, Colorado. It's going to be a huge party. I've been the last 3 years and had a blast. Ya'll check it out! It's not thoroughly finished yet, but will be soon.

Elizabeth McElligott's Study Guide Blog

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