Stored Media – A Different Sign in Every Context

So the meaning context of a text message is a desire to communicate without the limitation of space. So already, there’s an immediacy to the meaning context of a text message. When someone encodes a message into their phone to be sent, they are tapping pixels that are recognizing the designated spaces that are being tapped as electronic signals to be represented as typographic characters on the screen. After the message has been encoded into these characters, when the sender sends the message, the entire message that has been represented as electronic signals is sent via networks of radio waves to the recipient’s device, which is always idly working to receive signals encoded specifically for that device (through a phone number). The receipt of this message is often represented by an audible signal (sometimes a popular Beach Boys chorus). The recipient will use the phone’s software to locate the message that has already been decoded by the device into the form of typographic characters – however it won’t necessarily be exactly the same as the encoded message. If it’s a different phone, the font, interface of the software, and colors can be completely different than what the message looked like in the encoded message. However, because the meaning process is independent of the encoding and decoding of the actual signals, this does not necessarily affect the transmission of meaning.

While there is no meaning embedded into the actual electrical signals or radio waves that are carrying meanings, they are still part of the meaning making process. This is what it means to be in the digital age of information. There is information, in the technical sense, travelling around us always along highways for information through radio waves, copper wires, fiber optic cables, and so on. Even take this blog post; the purpose is to respond to the readings and will be used in class, and will be on the website far before I make it to the classroom. And when the website is accessed in class, the text I inputted into this text box will be viewable as characters in a string of posts by everyone else in the class. Thus the encoding of information is complete; the decoding will happen in the classroom, later in the semester when I want to track what I’ve learned and review all my blog posts, even next semester when I want to review what I learned in this course when I re-access the website. And the information saved in the website stored in a server somewhere will travel those information highways to reach my computer, my phone, my iPad and the text and my interpretation of it will function as a sign – a different sign in every context.