Communications: Parable from the Old Man Labs on tape this morning: When you think about it, the parallel between how human being operate at the personal information processing level is very much like the design of a radio receiver.
Except, perhaps, while the radio design we speak of here is usually the super heterodyne variety, the humans might be characterized as the super hypeodyne variety. Yes, we receive and act on hype.
Both receiver-types have optimal designs and there are some very useful parallel concepts to be understood to better manage our personal thinking and performance – whether radio or the human – as we target peak results.
To begin with, though, a few bits of basic information are useful.
The first concept is that noise is additive. We could go into how inter-stage noise in couple amplifiers work, but it’s a simple enough term that it should be apparent.
Like the kindergarten (or grade school) exercise where kids sit in a circle. The facilitator, or teacher, whispers something (usually a short story of a sentence or two) into the ear of the first student.
This student, in turn, passes the information on to the student on their other side, whispering it, as well.
As you would expect, the “story” that comes out after 20 – or more repeats – is usually TOTALLY different than the “seeded question” given at the beginning.
This is critically important to understand when looking at media and your computer.
If you want to base your life on “closest to source” information, you need to be extremely aware of this repetition (or in radios amplification) distortion factor.
Take a typical “news” story and you can see how this works. The story about third world sh*tholes is a dandy.
What the president actually said was to the effect “Why can’t we get more immigrants from Norway and Asia?”
The crooked media – in their zeal to prosecute Trump (or is that persecute?) simply though deliberately dropped the mention of Asia.
This done, the repetition error was free to run amuck. By the time it was repeated and then misquoted by media experts, the story first went “Trump thinks Haiti is a sh*thole” to “Trump wants just immigration from Norway.”
And this – after more distortions fanned by anti-Trump sentiment instilled by dark forces – simplified at the other side of the room to “Trump is a racist.”
The grown-ups in the room see it…but the PROBLEM is that over half of the voters are only going to head the distorted message at the end of the repetition cycle.
It’s an axiom of public relations design that “People tend to remember the last thing they heard on a topic” – which I don’t know if you’ve heard before, so there it is.
That’s one problem.
But now, let’s consider the additive noise contribution along the way.
In a radio receiver, we can observe (and measure) noise at every point in the design. Let me run through a few of them for you:
- There is antenna noise.
- There is first amplifier noise.
- There is mixer noise.
- There is more amplifier noise.
- There is detector noise.
- And there is audio (amplifier) noise.
Signal noise analysis has an analog in how you and I live in the hypeodyne world.
First there is “antenna noise.” We trust the media to faithfully report simple stories and concrete facts. But, as the “sh*thole” adventure teaches, malicious editing abounds.
The news antenna design itself is prone to picking up unwanted noise. A source example would be Dick Durban who was playing a filthy political agenda by playing the race card, made possible by mentioning Norway but not Asia for his sickly partisan agenda. By feeding the already malfunction news antennas of the northeast – which are noisy devices already, he is tuning the hypeodyne for party and perhaps personal gain…
Then there is our first amplifier distortion. Simply thought of by where the story places on key “repeater” websites like Drudge. Top story on Drudge distorts the amplitude of the signal making it stand out, or not.
At the other extreme, Bitcoin has just broken critical support and is likely headed down to the $6,000 range as a result. We rather expect this will be important but since the media (antennas) aren’t passing on that signal people in the main are oblivious to the tulips collapsing there.
The media antennae are – just as in radios – directional in nature. Thing is, most people don’t realize that simple fact. So as the media looks in one direction, the real meaningful data is often in another direction.
Then there is mixer noise as we follow the signal path.
In a radio receiver, a high frequency signal is mixed with a local signal to result in a third signal – the desired one, which will then be further amplified and processed.
What are your personal mixer analogs?
Well, you have friends, social media, colleagues at work, people at the gym, folks at the store, relatives, and everyone who texts, calls, speaks, writers, or otherwise changes how you process an event like “sh*tholes.”
Now you have a “signal” that you personally amplify. This kind of amplifier noise comes from your childhood, life experience, and so forth. If you have been raised a minority in America, you’d amplify the (distorted, maliciously edited) signal from the media antenna differently than if you were a) hearing the complete quote with the further context. And colored by examples of racism that you’d personally experience because yes, racism is still existent in the world today.
Detector noise is that what you think about the “sh*thole” story will depend on what the other pressures were striking you on a particular day. If you’d been in a traffic accident when the story broke, it would have little to no importance compared to getting insurance quotes, filling out the accident report, making sure you didn’t get a whiplash, and so on.
And then once once all this is amplified with all this damn distortion adding up along the way, we get to the audio noise analog.
In other words, once it has come of the screen, or speaker, what are you going to do? If you watch passively (as we try to do) little further distortion occurs. But actions taken here (re-actions, technically) will then form a feedback loop back to the antenna (the media) which is why riots happened in Ferguson, Baltimore, and what have you.
To us, it is just a matter of looking clinically at the source-media-influencers-amplifiers-detector distortions along the way. But, people unaware that they are in very real terms acting the part of “predictable little information processors” will be subject to easy tuning (manipulation) all the time.
So, as a thought model, we prefer to think of ourselves as high performance triple-conversion super heterodyne analogs than unaware little hypeodyne receivers.
As your class project this morning, here’s are some “stories being whispered” to the class of hypeodyne trainees this morning:
And from our favorite directional antenna of all? Tech workers flee US, blame Trump.
Drop by tomorrow for another lesson in “Hacking social programming.”
This is why engineers – intuitively understanding linked stages by their training – tend to think more rationally than liberal arts majors. Simple, huh?
Write when you get rich,