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Page history last edited by Michael J 12 years, 4 months ago





Communication Ecology  is a lens to use when looking at a communication eco system. The contention is that a healthy communication eco system is the necessary, but not always sufficient, condition for changed behavior in a changed organization culture.


The central ideas are:


1. Every individual, group, organization, or community can be considered an "actor" that moves through a unique "activity space." This activity space is composed of a "physical space" and a repetoire of latent "cognitive spaces." Each actor's cognitive space is the result of that actor's unique history and the power networks in which that activity space is embedded.


2. Actors will tend to do what is easiest for them to do - in the interest of managing stress - given the characterisitics of their activity spaces.


3. Every activity space is embedded in both internal and external power networks. The "power actor" is identified by their ability to control the allocation of time and the flow of resources.  Triggers that change behavior are sensitively dependent on the stresses created by those power networks.


4. The actor's cognitive space manifsets at a specific time and place. Once manifest it is the cog space that limits what the actor "sees", "hears" and "feels." Events and objects in phsyical space emit information. Once information is internalized, it is described as a "knowl" that can be integrated, modified or rejected, based on the achitecture of knowls already present in the actor's cognitive space.


Consistent with the insights of Alan Fogel, PhD.  communication is seen as a  continuous and dynamic process, rather than the exchange of discrete information. "Coregulation" is the term used by Fogel to describe the a "continuous unfolding of individual action that is susceptible to being continuously modified by the continuously changing actions of the partner."  Developing Through Relationships, University of Chicago Press, 1993.


In an Communication Ecology approach, a "partner" is not limited to a person as actor, but also sees the objects in the actor's physical space as "actors.". The "continous and dynamic process" of communication is broken down to a series of  micro decisions made by the actor that allow or disallow a particular "conversation" to continue. Those micro decisions define the mechanisms that allow inputs to pass through the "information membrane."  In natural language, these are the activites  described by "listening", "focus", "paying attention" or "engaged."



Communication Design is the professional practice that is best suited to develop interventions in physical space that most efficently lead to change in cognitive space. Physical interventions have the advantage of not being as dependent on the complexities of coregulation.


To manage it is necessary to measure

Learning, either individual, organizational or societal takes place in cognitive space. The accumulation of learning is one of the operational definitions of "social capital." The challenge is that changes in the cognitive space can not, in principal, be directly observed. The further problem is that, in principle, any evaluation of the elements of cognitive space is itself the product of a time specific cognitive space. SATs, IQ tests, economic analysis, pyschometric tests, analysis of motivation are all sensitively determined by the cognitive space of the observer.


The problem has been captured by Margert Mead when she said, "What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things".  To get an idea of how thorny this problem is, consider that "what people say" about what they analyze is part of what Mead describes.


To deal with this fundamental problem, Communication Ecology measurements are focused on unambiguous facts in physical space. The data is actor movement, the distribution of incentives, the exchange of money and the organization of time.







Contact: Michael.Josefowicz@gmail.com  .   Home About  .   Costs  .  Communication Ecology  .  NYC College Bound




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