Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract When people speak about “communication barriers”, what they usually think about are such things as the limitations set by human nature itself, or the constraints that are inherent in the tools we use for communicating. As an example of the first, consider the limited range of the naked human voice; for the second, we may think of the limitations imposed by such primitive communicative devices as the bonfire, the heliograph, or an old-fashioned megaphone. Our contribution draws attention to the fact that, despite enormous advances on the technological side of human communication (such as demonstrated by the existence and use of computers as communication devices), there still are some barriers to be removed as far as the human side is concerned. We call these barriers the “stumble-blocks of the mind”. Their existence is demonstrated by the study of two case stories, which show that understanding the communicative implications of computerizing information is more important than increased emphasis on ever fancier and more expensive hardware products. The next question has to do with the reasons for these “stumbling blocks” to occur. Current communicative and linguistic theoretical findings are used in an effort to explain and solve the communicative dilemmas that are encountered in the organization of our communication, among others in the area of human-computer interface. In particular, the notion of “privacy” in speech acting is suggested as an overlooked aspect, and the notion of “information transfer” is replaced by that of “creating mental activity”. Finally, some conclusions are drawn, and a number of practical applications are offered.
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