Cosma / Communication

Human’s advanced abilities in the use of symbols and tools is what makes them so unique, so it is not at all surprising that the discipline that concerns itself with the use of symbols as tools is one that can subsume all other disciplines and encompass the entirety of humanity’s accomplishments.–M. E. Hopper 1



Introducing Communication (Tess Pierce, The Evolution of Human Communication: From Theory to Practice)
An Introduction to Communication Studies (Sheila Steinberg)
Introduction to Communication (Lumen Learning)


Worlds of reference : lexicography, learning and language from the clay tablet to the computer (Tom McArthur)


communication : a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior — Webster   See also OneLook

A Dictionary of Media and Communication (Daniel Chandler and Rod Munday, Oxford University Press)


Roget’s II (, Merriam-Webster Thesaurus, Visuwords


Communication, the exchange of meanings between individuals through a common system of symbols. — Encyclopædia Britannica

Communication studies is an academic field that deals with processes of communication, commonly defined as the sharing of symbols over distances in space and time. Hence, communication studies encompasses a wide range of topics and contexts ranging from face-to-face conversation to speeches to mass media outlets such as television broadcasting. Communication studies, as a discipline, is also often interested in how audiences interpret information and the political, cultural, economic, and social dimensions of speech and language in context. — Wikipedia

Encyclopedia of Communication Theory (Stephen W. Littlejohn & Karen A. Foss)
International Encyclopedia of Communication Theory and Philosophy (Klaus Bruhn Jensen & Robert T. Craig)



Dreaming is not merely an act of communication; it is also an aesthetic activity, a game of the imagination, a game that is a value in itself. — Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Message In A Bottle Hunter: Message in a Bottle History, Stories, and News
Message in a bottle (Wikipedia)




Communication theory is a proposed description of communication phenomena, the relationships among them, a storyline describing these relationships, and an argument for these three elements. Communication theory provides a way of talking about and analyzing key events, processes, and commitments that together form communication. Theory can be seen as a way to map the world and make it navigable; communication theory gives us tools to answer empirical, conceptual, or practical communication questions. — Wikipedia

A First Look at Communication Theory (Em Griffin, Andrew Ledbetter and Glenn Sparks)
Communication (Wiki Of Science)
Communication Theories (
Communication Theory as a Field (Wikipedia)
Reflection on Communication Theory as a Field (Robert T. Craig, Communiquer)
International Encyclopedia of Communication Theory and Philosophy (Klaus Bruhn Jensen & Robert T. Craig)
Encyclopedia of Communication Theory (Stephen W. Littlejohn & Karen A. Foss)

Communication Models For The Study Of Mass Communications (Denis Windahl and Sven McQuail)
A taxonomy of concepts in communication (Reed H Blake; Edwin O Haroldsen)


Some communication systems models are based upon theory while others are based upon empirical research studies. This image shows a model that was based upon qualitative research findings obtained during my doctoral research. It was dubbed”Knowledge Ecology” during the initial research in the 1980s. Then it was elaborated and generalized to “Communication Ecology” while I was a Post Doc and co-organizer of the Communications Forum at MIT in the 1990s. Finally, it was renamed “Communication Systems Anatomy” and further elaborated while I was a faculty member at Lesley University in the 2000s. The overall organization of the content of Cosma, this website, is based upon this model. — M. E. Hopper

MEHoppers CSA Model

Here are links where you can find out more about each element.

Media (Technology, Channel)
Knowledge (Content, Message)
Human (User/Audience, Sender/Receiver)
Noise (Obstacle, Interference)

See also System and Content Outline



United Nations Conference on Trade and Development


Communication Science refers to the a field in which research methods are used to construct scientifically testable theories about how non-verbal and verbal human communications are created, transmitted and received. Researchers may concentrate on the ways messages shape and change human behavior in regards to attitude change, social change and politics. Global communication is also an important aspect of this field. —

Introduction to Communication Science (YouTube Channel)


Communication Technology, also known as information technology, refers to all equipment and programs that are used to process and communicate information. Professionals in the field specialize in the development, installation, and service of these hardware and software systems. Individuals who enter this field develop an understanding in the conceptions, production, evaluation, and distribution of communication technology devices. —

Communication Technology: The World of Gadgets and Gizmos (LearnHub)


Communication, transportation, information technology and commerce have been intertwined since the beginning of human history, and they remain closely related.

The success of the first electronic telegraph line in 1844 opened an era of modern communication. Before the telegraph there existed no separation between transportation and communication. Information traveled only as fast as the messenger who carried it. — D. J. Czitrom, Media and the American Mind

This reality was even codified in the Dewey Decimal library classification system:
380 Commerce, communications, transportation (Living Web)

See Transportation, Information Technology and Commerce







The Race to Save the World’s Disappearing Languages (ByNina Strochlic, National Geographic)
Languages: Why we must save dying tongues (Rachel Nuwer, BBC)


The Evolution of Human Communication: From Theory to Practice (Tess Pierce)

History of Communication (History World)
The Early History of Communication (Tuan C. Nguyen, ThoughtCo)
History of Communication (Wikipedia)


Communications Collections (Smithsonian National Museum of American History)
Museum of Broadcast Communications
Southwest Museum of Engineering, Communications and Computation
Transportation and Communication Maps (Library of Congress)
Caring for antique communication devices: phonographs, radios, etc. (Smithsonian)


MIT Communications Forum3
Internet Archive


Annenberg School for Communication Library (University of Pennsylvania)

WorldCat, Library of Congress, UPenn Online Books, Open Library





Survey of Communication Study (Laura K. Hahn and Scott T. Paynton, Professor, Humboldt State University)

Communication in the Real World: An Introduction to Communication Studies (Open Textbook Network)
Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication (Open Textbook Network)

Boundless Communications (Boundless, Lumen Learning)
OER Commons: Open Educational Resources



Media and Communication Occupations (Occupational Outlook Handbook)


International Communication Association
World Communication Association
International Association for Media and Communication Research
National Communication Association
American Communication Association


International Conference on Media and Communication Studies


International Communication Association Journals
National Communication Association Journals

Journal of communication (Wiley)
Studies in Communication Sciences (Elsevier)
Electronic Journal of Communication

Communication and Journalism Databases (Stanford University)

Communication and Mass Media Complete (EBSCOhost)
Communication Abstracts (EBSCOhost)


Worlds of reference: Lexicography, learning and language from the clay tablet to the computer (T. McArthur, 1986)
Information technology and civilization (H. Inose & J. R. Pierce, 1984)
Making connections: Communication through the ages (C. T. Meadow, 2002)
Ink into bits: A web of converging media (C. T. Meadow, 1998)

Communication (Wikibooks)


Communication (Oxford Bibliographies)


Ladder of Citizen Participation (Sherry Arnstein)


Freedom of Expression (American Civil Liberties Union)
Freedom of Expression (Freedom House)


Communication is something so simple and difficult that we can never put it in simple words. — T. S. Matthews


Should we call it expression or communication? (Paul Ekman)


Humor Improves Communication (Paul McGhee,
Using Humor (David Straker, Changing Minds)

The Postmmodernism Generator: Communications from Elsewhere
Contact Project: Experiment in deciphering a simulated message from another planet (Lunar Institute of Technology)


Play the Telephone Game (WikiHow)
Chinese Whispers (Wikipedia)


Communication arts encompasses the art of human communication. Communication arts broadly includes studies and professions that deal with graphic and visual design such as graphic design, graphic arts, art direction, corporate design and other areas. People who work in communication arts include photographers, illustrators, typographers and graphic designers. Fields in communication arts also include journalism, screenwriting, public speaking, digital video production, feature writing and even film and television studies. —

Communication Arts Magazine (Official Site)
Communication Arts Magazine (Wikipedia)


The DIKW pyramid, also known variously as the DIKW hierarchy, wisdom hierarchy, knowledge hierarchy, information hierarchy, information pyramid, and the data pyramid, refers loosely to a class of models for representing purported structural and/or functional relationships between the communication content types of data, information, knowledge, and wisdom. — Wikipedia

Most writers about the hierarchy refer to this passage from T. S. Eliot’s The Rock.

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? — T. S. Eliot, The Rock

Russell Ackoff popularized the hierarchy to categorize the content of communication.
From data to wisdom (Russell L. Ackoff, Journal of Applies Systems Analysis)
On passing through 80 (Russell L. Ackoff, Systemic practice and action research)



These are links to pages about closely related subjects.

DIKW Content Hierarchy

Content, Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom

Communication Systems

Cosma provides access to Knowledge Resources organized around the elements of communication systems.

Media, Knowledge, Human and Noise

See also System and Content Outline

Historically Associated Subjects

Transportation, Information Technology and Commerce



1.   The debate about whether communication should be called a “master discipline” could fill volumes. Even the question as to whether or not to use the words “master” or “discipline” at all could fill stacks of books. Many tomes have already been written about the relationship between the subject of communication and a myriad of other subjects that are related to it in some way or another. I could certainly fill a book about how and why I came to to call communication a master discipline, and I might do it someday. However, I’m too busy finishing Cosma to do it now. That’s why, for now, I will just say that I spent decades trying a multitude of ways to “lay out” thousands of subjects on a map such that they would make sense as a coherent whole, and communication was the only subject that could fit the bill of being in the center and encompassing the others from an organizational standpoint — it was a pragmatic and aesthetic decision. Furthermore, given the state of humanity at the present time and for the foreseeable future, as well as human nature in general, how can promoting the subject of communication in such a way be a bad thing?

2.   The resources on this page are are organized by a classification scheme developed exclusively for Cosma.

3.   Many of the resources on this page as well as the organizaion of it and the rest of this site coalesced while I was co-organizing, managing and summarizing events for the MIT Communications Forum during my Post Doc in the MIT Comparative Media Studies program. The MIT Communications Forum sponsored panel discussions and symposiums concerning a very wide range of topics related to communication.