The article is about proposed modeling of human interface and communication channels that are describing lots of technological trends up until today. The model is giving a structuralized perception that might help to come with new technologies and would make our world a better place to be. I have spent on it several days. Hope you like it. Comments are much appreciated. The article includes two parts – Model Description and Model Application. Here comes a part one.
What do we mean when we say “Life”?
Usually it would be a variety of physical aspects such as sleeping, eating, reproduction as well as mental aspects such as entertainment, production, communication…
If we take a look at our human-made environment, we would see that most of things we have produced in our world are somehow done to serve combinations of those basic aspects that define the whole spectrum of our life.
Communication is a basic component of our life and to understand it we need to clarify why we are communicating, what we are communicating and how we are communicating with each other.
If we take a look at all behaviors that define life, we could see that one behavior supports another. For example we eat and sleep to have forces to produce things; we produce entertainment of eating (by working in restaurants); we eat for reproduction (going to eat at blind date) and so on… But there is one thing that makes ALL those connections more efficient – communication. We communicate to transfer information important to improve other behaviors. For example we want to know where are better restaurants, get feedbacks about us or our environment for self-improvement and better sustainability in this world, which movie is good to have a better entertainment to get rest (or possibly get some interesting/important information), we communicate to produce better things that improve other behaviors. So the efficiency of communication is its main beneficial characteristics. Evolution of communication from gesture to verbal and later to printable, from short range to worldwide, from text to audio and then to video, from dialogue to tweeting – this evolution was to improve communication efficiency by widening its spectrum and power.
If we try to identify what we communicate, it might be arranged into several groups: Knowledge (information, data…), Emotion and Will. Many times it is combination of those. Today the most developed communication type is Knowledge, which spectrum was significantly improved by evolvement of writing, printing invention and recently by technology evolutional breakthroughs. Information density (amount of information in given communication volume) as characteristics for Knowledge communication was significantly improved along with scalability, reliability of communicated content, Knowledge variety, accessibility, actuality…
Communication of Emotions did not have this kind of luck and today is poorly developed.
Communication of Will is also poorly developed as well. It is mainly supported by Knowledge communication channels (as well as Emotion communication) and this way it is widely used in business. Purely, it is maintained by gestures in close peer-to-peer communication. Its spectrum is usually very narrow and, even while used through Knowledge communication channels, has a short summarizing nature. We use a lot of knowledge to make a decision and then generate the shortest possible Will-content that would make a required impact. In addition a long range strategic Will is perceived as Knowledge unlike a short-range tactical Will. Army is a great example of Will communication (“Run”, “Jump”, “Clean”, “Shoot” commands are clear, short, immediate and effective Will communication content). At home, parents make children silent by a single movement, communicate a warning with single finger or pointing on the plate while communicating that they want him to eat. Hands are a best human instrument for a Will communication and are effectively used for control.
So we can see that communication channels evolve to make more efficient transfer of Knowledge, Emotion and Will to improve our behaviors. By modeling of communication channel characteristics we could follow up on trends, search for opportunities and finally can get an insight into the value that communication is going to bring tomorrow to start planning it today.
Let’s try as an example to build a simple model of human interface as a basic communication channel of human being. To do this we would map some basic communication channel types to some basic set of characteristics. Each channel is impacted by physiological and technological constraints.
Several important physiological and technological characteristics we can take here are:
Bandwidth of the channel which gives ability to transfer a certain amount of content at a time here is taken as a derivative of Parallel (high bandwidth) or Serial (low bandwidth) nature of the interface. This parameter is important for channel efficiency as it defines the spectrum of the channel.
Content types that are primary for each channel are Knowledge, Emotion and Will.
Informativity is a channel content characteristic that specifies how descriptive the typical content is. Without specific technologies the Informativity is limited by perception and channel nature. We can see it as an intensity of information that is transferred. Technology that is increasing an information density would increase this characteristic.
Easiness of information generation and absorption are two other aspects we have to take as they define a possible bottleneck of the channel driven by our physiology and proximity to the animal nature of human and brain functionality.
Sharing and Search are 2 factors that are driven by technological evolution of communication channels and are important for identification of current channel efficiency. Those two come to compensate an easiness and absorption human limitations and improve mainly information reliability, scalability and accessibility.
Technological evolution stage general aspect is important to identify capabilities and limitations that we’ve got to support each channel.
Taken communication channel types:
Audio communication channel – Managed primarily by voice generation and ear-based receiving. Linguistic substrate in voice-driven communication has an important component of tone, which gives ability to transfer not only a Knowledge, but Emotion and Will. Audio channel also includes motoric sound generation (music) and transfer of mainly Emotion.
As one of the most developed human interfaces, this bi-directional communication channel is giving ability to transfer the most informative content despite its serial nature that makes a channel slow. The “easiness of information generation and absorption” for audio channel content is not driven by human hardware. It requires development of linguistic skills for Knowledge content transfer and emotion development for deeper Emotion transfer. Music generation is a non-trivial long skill development and generally is rare, so the most common audio channel in this case has a receive vector and small amount of people that transfer this kind of an Emotion content towards many. This is also a good channel for a Will content transfer. Overall generation and absorption are limited by educational levels and unfortunately are poorly developed on a worldwide scale. Though a general communication technology support for audio channel is well developed, the information sharing and search aspects are poorly supported. The sharing is usually towards a single destination except for media, where small amount of trained people send an audio content to many. Probably the audio sharing did not evolve due to several reasons: lack of search capability through the content, so people cannot decide on the content they receive; storage and management capabilities that only recently have emerge, so a written text sharing technologies became a monopole in the content sharing; a difficulty to manage an Emotion component of audio channel, so it becomes mainly knowledge and Will and greatly supported by a “Literacy” channel (channel that is based on a written content), despite the difficulty of its content generation; difficulty of content generation continuity and correction abilities, so people would have to think fast, create a whole bucket of content and generate it without mistakes. Additional problem with this channel today is that it is hard to localize.
Visual communication channel – This is a great informational bandwidth communication channel. Both parallel perception of visual content by brain is giving ability to transfer a lot of information. Despite such a good channel width, the Knowledge is less transferred today (excluding Literacy channel) and it is used as a complementary to other channels (mainly audio) that is increasing a spectrum of information and bringing a significant component of Emotion content. It is also used to structuralize a complex knowledge and bringing a “high level view” of the information. The high bandwidth of the channel is increasing the perceptual agility, informativity and easiness of absorption for the content. Though the technology support for the channel has evolved, still the easiness of content generation is low and mainly limited by recording and sharing of present content.
Motoric communication channel – is a very low-level human communication channel that was ever used by Homo sapiens. That is why the easiness of information generation is very high. The input of the channel is a kind of specialized visual channel that is leveraging special treatment by our brain to identify extremely fast faces and hands, which are the most active human interfaces for this channel. It has a very small informativity, but it is very fast and is great for communication of Will and Emotion. Actually “touch screens” today are not using a sense of touch, but motoric communication channel and leveraging this fast Will generation capability of the channel for control. Recently emerging technology support for this channel is still very young (touchscreens, face recognition, gesture recognition, perceptual computing) and there are lots of opportunities to make this channel more efficient. Like an Audio channel, Motoric has the same problem with localization, though in smaller scale, but less treated.
Touch communication channel – This is second very low level communication channel. Most undeveloped and that is why with huge potential. This is a high bandwidth channel with biggest Emotion content component. Great information absorption is thanks to lots of sensory receptors we’ve got. The information generation today is mainly supported by motoric channel and on short range works just great. The channel is perceived as most intimate due to its low level information input nature.
Motoric and touch communication channels are tightly connected and leverage one another as input or output, but Touch content should not necessary be driven by Motoric channel (e.g. it can be electric stimulus signals) and Motoric content is not directly related to Touch channel (for example Kinect).
Literacy communication channel – a literacy-driven content is kind of technology by itself that is using a motoric channel for generation and visual channel as a feedback, but it has evolved through centuries and become a part of our society genome. Actually a literacy evolution was driven by good of content sharing properties and supported by a high bandwidth of visual channel as well as by easiness of generation of motoric channel. Today thanks to technological progress sharing property of the channel was leveraged and greatly supported by content search tools. Whole social revolution was possible because of this property. Despite a good informativity (similar to Audio, but with significantly reduced Emotion component), the channel is hard in terms of information generation and absorption. Today only 80% of the world can read and write (though a worldwide illiteracy has halved between 1970 and 200x). Development of the channel requires a lifelong intellectual process of gaining meanings.
Overall we can sum all this into a single table: