Ray & Charles Eames: A Communications Primer

Chris Higgins

Crank up your speakers or strap on your headphones, here's an awesome science film from 1953. In A Communications Primer, the Eames power couple (creators of Powers of Ten, among others) explain how communication works in an increasingly technological world. Now, given that this film is now fifty-six years old, can it be relevant today? In a word: completely. The first topic here is signal versus noise, a problem that we're all familiar with -- think spam, Twitter, Facebook, even just the forlorn "ding!" of your email program every five minutes. In this film, Ray and Charles Eames break down the communications process into discrete steps, discussing strategies to combat noise (and distortion, and other problems) that can be applied to any technology.

Discussed: Claude Shannon's schematic communications diagram, signal, noise, telegraphy, English as 50% redundant, bits ("binary digits"), painting, code, calculators, feedback, and more.

Be aware: the soothing narration and 50's music might cause you to zone out a bit. Fight the noise! Listen for the signal!

Read more about A Communications Primer or download it in high quality from Archive.org.

(Via Kottke.org.)