The art and science of communication

Heather Bing

The impact of communication on different academic areas was explored yesterday during the College of Arts and Sciences’ second annual mini-symposium, “Can You Hear Me Now. Good!: The Arts and Science of Communication.”

The symposium brought together academics from the College of Arts and Sciences as well as the College of Communication and Information to discuss the topics of computer science, sociology and rhetoric in terms of communication studies.

Computer science professor Hassan Peyravi gave a speech titled “Telecommunications Mediums: The Science of Communication.” Peyravi said communication facilitates the current dominant technologies used in information gathering, processing and distribution; however, these are broad areas and communication between them can break down.

“One problem we are facing is shrinking the gap between these areas,” he said. “We need a globally accepted and interoperable architecture between these diverse applications.”

Although scientific innovations have led to new media options, those devices are not always used upon creation.

“We invent devices, we invent architecture, and not all of them are used as applications,” he said. “We have to have vertical evolution before we can put the product in the market.”

Sociology professor Stanford Gregory continued the discussion with his presentation, “The Importance of the Speech Fundamental to Human Social Behavior.” Gregory discussed the sociology behind his work in paraverbal studies.

“Paraverbal studies focuses on aspects of sound,” he said. “But not necessarily the verbal aspect we’re conditioned to think of.”

His research has shown that when people communicate, they accommodate their speech patterns and verbal frequencies depending on whom they are speaking with.

“When it comes to convergence, that convergence is from the person of lower status to higher status,” he said.

This study was done by analyzing speech patterns between Larry King and his interviewees. Depending on the social status of the person being interviewed, King would adapt to their speech patterns or they to his.

Gregory also discussed dichotic listening and the impact it might have on communication in the future. This study focuses on how directing sound to the section of the brain that analyzes that information may make communication more effective. This study could influence cell phone use with drivers, military and governmental security and studies such as English as a second language.

John Ackerman, associate professor of rhetoric, spoke on “Rhetoric and Communication: A Tale of Three Cities.” He discussed design and how architecture is used to turn words and stories into structures and space. While facility users see buildings, designers see renderings.

Ackerman studied Salt Lake City, Ohio City and the city of Kent and how public dialogue and suggestions influenced the science and art of design in those areas.

Gracie Lawson-Borders, assistant professor of communication studies, was the symposium’s discussant and said the different ways communication flows can be seen in each presenter’s topic.

She said the presenters’ areas of technical, auditory, and speech and language communications show the capabilities, access points and meanings of communication channels.

“We are all trying to communicate,” she said. “We are all socially constructing our reality.”

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Heather Bing at [email protected].