Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Communication as Translation

When we communicate, we bring a thought or an emotion to another person. In reaching the person with whom we communicate, the message changes. Our message has been translated.

You know that when you use the word dog, it provokes a highly personal image or concept in your mind. We all experience dog differently. When we speak, we translate our idea of dog to others, and hope for the best. We do this with every word that we use. Perfect communication cannot happen. As humans, we do not really expect perfect anything, do we?

But we have to try.

I return to the demise of Google Wave because it illustrates something important. The application failed, at least in this incarnation, not because it did not work but because its value and use never reached the understanding of enough people.

Expertise is tricky to maneuver. Experts must bring their knowledge to the level of their audience. They must find language that conveys their intent. That means jargon is right out. Vocabulary must inhabit the reader’s comfort zone. Use cases must be relevant.

Google botched the communication. I hope their Facebook Killer receives better care. The translation of the idea of value must reach millions of people, most of whom are not engineers.

No comments: