The beauty of our Web 2.0 world is rooted in the reunion with our innate yearning to discern and to create for ourselves. Whether it be through Web sites, tweets or blogs, “non-media” members can now assume the coveted press badge from years gone by. We can all profit from collective intelligence thanks to the groundswell. Now, this revolution has its advantages and disadvantages (misinformation for example), but at its heart, it should be celebrated as an advance towards better, liberated choices.
In the media world of recent generations, creators funneled information down to a consumer. Communication theories of the 1940s, such as Harold Lasswell’s model and the Shannon-Weaver Mathematical Communication Model, both use one-directional lines that do not illustrate the ability of today’s consumer to also act as a creator.
Needless to say, those models just won’t cut it in a world where Google is a verb. And eventually the shift in our way of thinking and communicating will need to be reflected in a revised communication model that accounts for new non-linear interactive media.
Here’s a suggested adaptation. The Hourglass Model of Communication below focuses on the three major elements of communication: the creator/consumer, the media and the message. The creator/consumer is the focal point of the hourglass. When it is turned over, it is still the center of the model, suggesting the two personas are interchangeable axes in the flow of communication. The media is the device through which the message is filtered. If you flip the hourglass over, the flow of communication remains the same, though the roles of creator and consumer may switch. Regardless, both roles have the malleable ability to receive, transmit and process information.
Today, this model is a more appropriate assessment of the communication process at work in 2009. What will it look like tomorrow? I guess it’s up to us.