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"Communicating With Strangers: An Approach to Intercultural Communication"

The authors begin by observing that "we communicate the way we do because we are raised in a particular culture and learn its language, rules, and norms. Different cultures may have different rules and norms. The authors argue that understanding the other's culture facilitates cross-cultural communication. Gudykunst and Kim believe that intercultural communication can be understood via the same basic variables and processes used to describe other forms of communication. All communication occurs between people who have varying degree of familiarity with each other. The key factor in understanding intercultural communication is the concept of the stranger. Understanding Communication Strangeness and familiarity make up continuity. The authors use the term "stranger" to refer to those people at the most unfamiliar end of the continuum. Thus anyone could be considered a stranger, given a sufficiently foreign context. A stranger has limited knowledge of their new environment - of its norms and values. And in turn, the locals have little knowledge of the stranger - of her beliefs, interests and habits. Generally , communication with another involves predicting or anticipating their responses. When communicating with someone familiar we are usually confident in our anticipation, and may not even notice that we are making such predictions. In turn, when we communicate with strangers we are more aware of the range of their possible responses, and of the uncertainty of our predictions. Communicative predictions are based on data from three levels. First is the cultural level. This level involves information about the other's culture, its dominant values and norms. This is often the only level of information available when communicating with a stranger. Even so, a better understanding of the stranger's culture yields better predictions. The second level of information is sociocultural. This includes data about the other's group membership, or the groups to which they seek to belong. This type of information is the predominate

data used in intracultural communication. Finally there is psychocultural data. This is information about the individual's characteristics, and is the sort of data most relevant to communication with friends. Uncertainty and Anxiety Generally, in communication, we seek to reduce uncertainty. Communication with strangers involves relatively greater degrees of uncertainty, due to the difficulty in predicting a stranger's responses. We experience uncertainty with regard to the stranger's attitudes, feelings and beliefs. Motivation to reduce this uncertainty is more acute when we expect to have further interactions with the stranger, or when they are a potential source of benefit.We may reduce our uncertainty and increase the accuracy of our predictions by gaining more information about the stranger. The authors describe three basic strategies for gathering such information. One may passively observe the stranger. One may actively seek out information from other friends of the stranger, or from books. Finally, one may seek information directly from the stranger by interacting with them and asking questions.The increased uncertainty in interactions with strangers is accompanied by higher levels of anxiety, as we anticipate a wider array of possible negative outcomes. We may worry about damage to our selfesteem from feeling confused and out of control. We may fear the possibility of being incompetent, or being exploited. We may worry about being perceived negatively by the stranger. And we may worry that interacting with a stranger will bring disapproval from members of our own group. Generally these anxieties can be reduced by paying more conscious attention to the communication process, and by gathering more information on the stranger. The authors add a further caution. Generally, individuals tend to explain their own behavior by reference to the situation. Observers tend to attribute an individual's behavior to elements of that individual's character. When interacting with strangers we are especially likely to attribute their behavior to their character, and then to view their character as typical of their culture . Source:
www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/example/gdy6945.htm

Modern Communication: The laser and fiber optic Revolution


The internet, cell phones, fax machines and pagers are a way of life in modern society. All these technologies rely on lasers and fiber optics . The principle behind a laser lies embedded in the heart of quantum mechanics. Einstein built on the theory of quantum mechanics to explain the photoelectric effect in 1905 and showed that electrons could absorb and emit the energy of photons . In 1917, he went on to discover that this emission could be focused so that it occurs at a single frequency . This is known as stimulated emission. Scientists applied this principle in the mid-1950s to stimulate emission of microwaves using a device called a maser . They then applied the same principle to visible light and used the term laser for this device. However, they could not produce a steady laser light, which was necessary for practical applications . Research on semiconductors led to the development of semiconductor lasers. By the late 1960s, researchers had devised a method to operate lasers continuously at room temperatures using layers of semiconductors. Now they needed to find a method to transmit light across large distances . Although scientists knew that glass fibers could carry light over short distances, it was not a very efficient process. Theoretical work showing that light loss in glass fibers could be decreased dramatically spurred experimental efforts to produce such fibers. Researchers continued exploring techniques to decrease light loss in optical fibers. It then became possible to take fiber-optic communication out of the laboratory and into everyday life. Meanwhile, scientists continued improving laser technology and by the late 1970s, commercial use of fiber-optic systems had begun . As fiber optic cables began to be used world-wide, basic research continued to yield improvements in the systems. Yet more possibilities for improvement in high-speed data lines are available and looming on the horizon
Source: http://www.beyonddiscovery.org/content/article.asp??a=438