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Information sources chooses preferred message among a set of possible messages which can be a combination of any form of written or spoken, sound or image. Then, transmitter manipulates the message into the signal, also known as encoder. Channel is the pathway that message passes through from the transmitter to the receiver. Receiver is the reverse transmitter which changes the signal back into the message, also known as decoder. Destination is the target place of the transmitted message. Lastly, noise is any unwanted additions to the transmitted signal which cause distortion or error in communication.
Mathematical model shows the communication process between source and destination. The source generates the message which can be separate or continuous. Shannon and Weaver once said a discrete source produces "the message, symbol by symbol. It will choose successive symbols according to certain probabilities depending, in general, on preceding choices as well as the particular symbols in question" which is quoted by Lossy (1999). Written English or number data are examples of discrete sources. Non-discrete sources like music or speech called continuous, but at times they are encoded into separate sequence of numbers. The generated message by the source is not transmitted but, it is transformed by the transmitter to the signal and then transferred to the receiver. It is essential that transmitter encodes message in a form that can be transferred through the medium which makes the channel. The receiver converts the transformed message to its original one and gives it to the destination.
In this mathematical theory, the word information doesn't reflect its normal meaning but as Weaver (1949) specifies "information is a measure of one's freedom of choice when one selects a message". The situation that there are two ways which person must choose one of them, the information related to this situation is unity. In other words, the concept of information isn't applied to the individual messages, but to the situation as a whole, and the unit information indicates the amount of freedom of choice when one must choose a message which is considered as unit amount.
To be more certain, the sum of information is measured by the logarithm of the amount of available choices. It is easy to use logarithms to the base two instead of base ten, so when there are only two selections to choose, the information is related to the logarithm of two to the base two which is unity. In addition, the situation of two available alternatives is defined by information of unity. These two alternatives can be represented by two integers of one and zero which are the only two digits in binary systems. So, binary digit or its abbreviation "bit" is considered as the unit of info. A message can be created freely by choosing the one out of numerous combinations of bits arrangements.
Although different arrangements of bits can generate messages but in the context of English language all of these arrangements cannot be usable or the probability of existence of one arrangement is less than the other. The possibility of choice of the different discrete symbols at one level depends on the earlier choices.
Freedom of choice which is the base of Shannon's theory brings up the entropy concept which is the measure of uncertainty in a system. When the quantity of items which source can choose from to build the message increases, the uncertainty or entropy surges with the same proportion. In contrast, when the condition is well organized and there is no much of randomness or choice, information or entropy is low. In other words when the destination knows about the probability of the messages, entropy or amount of information is low. The value of a specific bit of information relies on the chance of its occurring. Generally, if the chance of occurring an item in a message increases, the informative value of it decreases as well.
Structure of English language is in a way that decreases people's free choice in writing and speaking to about fifty percent. It means that when we write or speak, half of it is statistical control and half of it is our own free choice. The 50% of our free choice actually is unnecessary because it adds no new information and can be missed without disturbing the completeness of the message. For this reason, we call them redundant and are the index of redundancy. Redundancy and increasing of it can be beneficial and restore efficiency when any additional signals interfere with the message. These additional signals which are not related to the message are known as noise.
Every single model is useful for certain purposes and not so useful for others. The strong point of Shannon and Weaver's Mathematical Model are its simplicity, generality and quantifiability. Besides, in communication theory, this model is the most used simple communication model. Shannon and Weaver divided the communication process into a number of individual parts. These gave incentive to creating communication models providing a thorough elaboration of their process. Other than that, this model provides intellectual inspiration for communication theoreticians leading to further theories and research. The advantages mentioned above made this model attractive to numerous academic disciplines. It also drew serious academic attention to human communication and 'information theory' leading to further theory and research. (Chandler, 1995)
One of the weaknesses of this model is its not analogous to much of human communication. Only a part of the information transmitted in interpersonal encounters can be taken as remotely corresponding to the teletype action of statistically infrequent or redundant signals. AlthoughÂ Shannon's technical concept of information is attractive in many respects, it ranks among the most not important methods of conceiving of what we recognize as "information". The second weakness of this model is its does not account for content. Mortensen said: "Shannon and Weaver were concerned only with technical problems related with the arrangement and selection of discrete units of information-in short, with purely formal matters but not content. Hence, Shannon and Weaver's model does not apply to pragmatic or semantic dimensions of language". Static and linear is the third weakness of Shannon and Weaver's Mathematical Model. Mortensen said: "Finally, the most concerned inadequacy of the Shannon-Weaver communication system is that it is comparatively static and linear. It conceives of a linear and literal transmission of information from one place to another. The conception of linearity leads to misleading ideas when transmitted to human conduct; by studying several alternative communication models, some of the problems can best be stressed." (Mortensen, 1972) Other than that, the mathematical model is still no provision for feedback or context. (Magerstädt, 2012)
As much as Shannon and Weaver's model is well known and frequently implied, it happens to not be really similar to human communication. It can be improved by carefully looking through possible noises that can occur in between the procedure in Shannon and Weaver's model. Noises for instance, in the concepts in the model; information source, transmitter, channel, message, receiver and information destination or in other words besides the noise that occur in between the transmitter and the receiver. From the transmitter or known as encoder, noise can occur in ways such as transmitting in different languages or not understandable pitch in voice in the event. As for the decoder, recipient may also be blind or deaf. Blind recipients are not able to comprehend messages derived via print or articles on the net. Moreover in the reception, difficulties can be found such as lack of signal in telephone line or such. These are some of the areas to look into to improve the model. The issue is that Shannon and Weaver has generalized everyone in terms of capability physically and mentally.
Another weakness that is found in Shannon and Weaver's theory is that it's written formally, it does not account for any content. Before declaring their theory they did not put effort into putting in theoretical tests. To improve it, application of semantic and pragmatic in other words a greater understanding or a relation between their signifiers and practice by doing practical imposition. The mathematician's mistake is that they focused majorly on technical difficulties without considering other various possible complications that occurs naturally in human communication.
Furthermore, another issue for the model is that the model has no mechanism for distinguishing important ideas from unnecessary babbling. Moreover, despite the sufficient acceptable content, in its technical that information will imply anything that can be coded for transmission through a channel that connects a source with a receiver. An easy way to overcome this problem is, similar to application to semantic and pragmatic, analyse and filter any unnecessary ideas such as being straight forward in the development in model without examining or doing research about affects in more detail.
Lastly, Shannon and Weaver also left out another baggage in their theory which happens for the model to be too static as in interference and linear. It conceives literal transmission of information from one to another. Linearity leads misleading transmission to recipient. This can be underscored by simply listing possible idea or thoughts about a statement made by the encoder for instance meaning of a phrase that might be different from other culture and countries. Studying other existing models such as Berlo's model of communication, Shramm's model of communication and a Helical model of communication which possibly provides ideas or a picture of overcoming weaknesses in Shannon and Weaver's.
A practical example how the concept of Shannon and Weaver's communication theory is assuming a scenario of one business related person and one of his client who are involved in a business agreement. Given that the business man is doing sales for a body building for men company, his client has agreed to purchase a two month supply of body building supplement such as protein shake. The protein that his client demanded is an imported product which requires shipping and other various transportation. The business man agrees to the conditions and hired a middle person to deliver the products to the client.
From what can be seen, the sender in terms of the Shannon and Weavers model, is actually the supplier from the location from where the imported product come from. Followed by the encoder who in this case is the business man's middle man who is in charge on transporting the products to the business man himself. At this point, noise takes place in the channel which is where the products are being shipped from the origin country which might come across delays such as weather problems, ship maintenance, possible ship engine failure or such. Moreover, after the products arrived to destinated country, it requires transportation by land which in Shannon and Weaver's model is the decoder, to reach the buyers doorstep. Furthermore, similar noises may occur during the procedure for instance transportation go through rain that may affect the quality of the product due to the moist environment before the buyer receives them.
Finally, reaching the destination the delivery to the receiver whom in the given scenario the client of the businessman. The receiver then contributes feedback to the company of the product whether or not the product is found satisfying which leaves the company ideas in improving their products in which perspective determined by the feedback given by their customers. From the full procedure, it can be seen that the full mathematical model is implied in a form of a cycle.