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Part 1 – Power of Communication Technology

In Part 1, Dr. Siegel is interveiwed by Scott Thayer.

DR. SIEGEL: You know folks, it’s a very interesting process we’re going through in this country. We’re going through a revolution. Some people say, well, we’d like to have a resolution, but we are going through one, and it’s a communication revolution. And I’ve watched this as a traditional communication scholar, as a professor of communications, one who studied the field over the last several decades. And of course going back to when I first earned my PhD in 1972, we didn’t have this kind of technology today. We didn’t have these various streams of communication that we have today. It was, in a way, I suppose, a lot easier to make a decision about what form of communication we should follow in each circumstance. Well, it’s become more difficult, and I don’t think people really have thought about that consciously as much as they ought to. If you think about all of the kinds of communication available today and what options there are, it’s gone far beyond anything we would’ve imagined, those of us who can remember back before this technology era.

But let’s start with the fundamental point of human communication. Communication is a transaction. It’s not linear. It’s not just from person A to person B. When you communicate with somebody, you’re communicating as a transaction. The two of you are immersed in each other’s communication messages as you go through the process. Now that doesn’t mean you even have to be in each other’s presence. You could be writing a letter. You could be using a voicemail, or an email, or any other form of technology, but the fact remains that it’s still a transaction, and you need to think about that. The reason is that it’s not just you sending the message. You’ve got to ask yourself the question, what’s the impact on the other person? In addition to that, what we’ve had traditionally is personal human contact and communication. I’m not sure we have that as much anymore. I think when we deal with our technology and communication in the technology era, we really don’t think as much about the personal impact and the personal contact that we had in the past, and we’ve lost some of that. We’ve become detached from the traditional communication principles that we had previously. And of course, also, there are verbal and nonverbal elements, especially in the traditional form of communicating with a person one on one, or in a small group, or in a large group, for that matter.

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