The Evolution of Communication
Since the earliest of years, communication has been an important part of life. The term communication is defined as a means to give or interchange thoughts, feelings, information, or the like, by writing, speaking, gesturing, etcetera ( Stein, 298). Communication allows humans and other life-forms to interact with each other and transfer important information. The information transferred could be comprised of anything from a nearby food source to the discovery of fire. Over the years, communication has taken many forms. In 1962, a singer and songwriter named Bob Dylan (b. Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941, Duluth, Minnesota) released his first album titled Bob Dylan. After listening to this album and noticing his talent for intertwining melodic songs and lyrics that spread social consciousness to the masses, it is hard to believe the simple grunt had come this far.
Through the advances of science, scientist have concluded that the evolution of life probably took place over the past tens of millions of years. During these years life has evolved from tiny microscopic organisms into modern man. The genus Homo, which houses mankind, only appeared some two million years ago. Through much research, it has been concluded that speech probably arrived in its simplest form some 250,000 to 300,000 years ago. This early stage of speech, or communication, consisted of Neanderthals using their mouths to formulate sounds. This attempt to communicate by sound, which may have been discovered by listening to animals such as birds or other creatures and attempting to recreate them, is commonly known as grunting (Lacy, 2).
The transformation from grunting, to the actual formulation of words, probably took place 200,000 years ago in Western Europe. This is an important discovery. The formulation of words to make a sentence and communicate is what separates humans from other animals.
In the Stone Age, information was passed on by communicating with words. The formulation of words gave birth to language in the form of an oral tradition.
Language, in its oral form, allowed people to communicate amongst themselves. This was important when people were together in person. However, the invention of language in its written tradition and print represented progress for the spread of information and the accuracy upon which that information would be received. It is thought that many men had been experimenting with print by the mid fifteenth century. This was a long time after the story of Gilgamesh had been scribed in stone. However, the invention of paper around 1000 c.e., and its combination with fifteenth century printing techniques by Johannes Gutenberg in 1452, gave birth to modern printing (Lacy, 21). "Print enormously enlarged the number of those who had access to the knowledge from which power is derived" (Lacy, 29).
In the early 1900's a collaborative effort gave birth to another form of medium. This medium for the communication of information is known as the radio. By inventing the regenerative circuit in 1912 and then frequency modulation (FM) in the 1930's, Edwin Howard Armstrong is credited for inventing the modern radio and broadcasting. The radio allowed people to gain access to information faster and in numbers that rose exponentially. Many people took advantage of the radio and attempted to raise social consciousness through the broadcasting of songs and lyrics (information). Radio allowed information to be distributed in a wide range. Song's were played to whomever would listen, and not just in certain areas and ethnic boundaries. One such educator was Bob Dylan. Over three decades Bob Dylan released 46 albums. Dylan's combination of folk music, social consciousness, and the radio allowed him to speak to a nation. The information he was sending was heard by millions upon millions and could be traced all the way back to the simple grunt some 250,000 to 300,000 years ago.
Ed., Jess Stein. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language. Random House Publishing: New York, 1967
Lacy, Dan. From Grunts To Gigabytes. Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois: Urbana,1996