Communication Through History

5 Nov

The importance of communication is often an under-appreciated aspect of business, but Howard Rheingold notes how important communication is, not only modern society, but in the entire history of civilization.

In his TED talk, The new power of Collaboration, Rheingold comments on how success in business, politics and evolution is often seen as a need to dominate competition and strive to be the most aggressive. Then, he argues that this is a deeply flawed view since communication and interdependency are critical necessities throughout human history.

He believes that all major evolutionary leaps in the history of human kind have been centered around communication. First, the move from working in family based groups of hunter-gatherers to rudimentary civilizations were centered around both the beginnings of language and the beginning of writing: language must have existed previously but with larger groups a codified version of language developed, and the first methods of writing were created mainly for recording debt, largely in the form of taxes to a ruler. It was in the next leap, the printing press, that literacy hit the masses. Before this time, reading and writing was restricted to the privileged few, but with the advent of the printing press it became useful for the common people to learn to read and write as they now were likely to encounter a need to. It was this leap that propelled us into the modern society where writing and reading are of vital importance and it will continue to to be crucial as information is now disseminated not through books but in an even more ubiquitous form: the Internet.

by Spencer Cole


One Response to “Communication Through History”

  1. Elisabeth Green November 13, 2011 at 1:39 am #

    I really enjoyed your post, and I think it is important to reflect on the history of communication in order to understand where we are today. The Internet is such a major part of our society and has created a pathway for many new channels of communication. We choose Google rather than encyclopedias and chatting over calling. These tools are very convenient and easy, but without hardcopies of these conversations, we cannot easily save them.
    A speaker at Founders Day last week explained how presidents used to write their wives letters and document all of their travels. These documents were preserved, and it is amazing how we can recover them today in the presidents’ libraries. Although the Internet has brought incredible means of communication to our society, I think hand writing, or at least printing, our work is still very important.

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