Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Communications and the Cell Phone Addiction Part I (b)

By Miriam B. Medina

(Continue from page: 1)

In today's modern age of advanced technology and mobile phone use, 2011, I can't help but wonder how man used to communicate his thoughts.

The cave dwellers would shout warnings to all the tribe within earshot. Others would use hand signs or devices such as a horn, bells, a signal fire, a flag made of cloth or a hollow tree drum. Evidence of communication would be seen through paintings of animals and animal hunts found on cave walls, possibly serving as a hunting lesson for younger members of the tribe. Symbols representing pictures of people, places, animals and things have also been found, recorded for posterity thousands of years ago. The oral tradition of storytelling was the most effective form of communication to be passed from one generation to the next. Naturally, as it is today with human communications, distortions and embellishments would be added along the way. For instance, let's say Uncle Louie was a frail old man coughing and gasping for air on his death-bed, by the time the tale was retold a few times, Louis became a beautiful, strapping young hunter who tragically died an untimely death, leaving behind a legacy of a record-breaking number of slain bison. Geeez...what a way to go Uncle Louie!

The early American Indians were also highly tuned to body language and nonverbal communication. It was the most effective way to communicate because it made expressive use of their hands, arms, legs, and feet. For example, when it was the hunting season for the bison, which was their main food source, they would head out to the large grasslands where the bison fed and lived off the land. As long as there was a herd nearby, the hunters knew that they would be able to keep their tribe and families well fed. After scouting the area and finding a suitable location near a water-course, which would also put the tribe in view of the wild bison that frequented there, the hunters and their families would break ground, setting up tents and kindling fires. The hunter's robe was their way of communicating to the tribe with respect to the bison. If a group of bison were noticed in the proximity of the camp, they would throw up their robes in a certain way to indicate that others should halt. Displaying the robe a different way would indicate the immediacy of an approaching enemy. However, if one of the three hunters had died in an attempt at killing a bison, in order to communicate this message to the tribe, the two survivors would run towards each other, and upon passing, one of them would throw themselves on the ground. Today this is called stealing a taxicab from someone in Downtown Manhattan on a busy day, but back then it was a way to communicate death in bravery.

Transportation was a means of communication between people. The early settlers in America depended particularly on its use for social and economic development.

Traveling in the wilderness was extremely difficult because the only roads that existed back then were the narrow paths that the Indians made. Eventually, with years of communication, these paths were widened to allow horse and wagons to travel over them. Human carriers, whether they traveled by foot or horse were used to convey long and complicated messages, verbally or by letters. Since transportation was limited mostly to water, the early settlers would gravitate toward the Atlantic Coast because of the convenience of receiving their supplies consisting of farming implements, heads of cattle, horses, seed, families and letters from their homeland, which usually arrived by water.

Most humans have a need to communicate.

For the woman of Early America who lived on farms and in other rural communities, the quilting bees were the only form of interacting socially. This gave them a break after working all week on the farm, to exchange gossip and receive practical tips. Nothing like taking a break from a week's worth of laundry, cooking and farming with some nice, relaxing hard labor! And all we have are arcades, sporting events and coffee shops.

With the coming of the Railroads, people were brought together from East to West and vice-versa, thus increasing the communication between all inhabitants.

Cultures of the past were preserved by scholars who painstakingly reproduced data by hand. Thus the relatively slow speed hand-operated printing press made its appearance, followed by the motor-driven presses which were more effective and popular. Subsequently, books, publications and newspapers became available to many more people, stimulating literacy. As a consequence of the international trade and domestic, commercial and agricultural extension, the need for improvement in mass communications was in considerable demand.

In 1824, Louis Braille, invented the Braille method, which was a tactile writing and reading system used by blind people. In 1867, Christopher Sholes, Carlos Glidden and Samuel Soule invented the first practical mechanical typewriter machine. And as you can see, communications technology seriously began to evolve. In the next part of this series, we'll follow how that technology continued to evolve in modern times, resulting in that little mobile device that most people keep attached to their ear at all times, the mobile phone.

See Part II.

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