Davis Foulger’s Ecological Model of the Communications Process is good, but not great. At first glance, it appears to include most elements of current communication. Foulger’s dotted lines between the creators and consumers indicate that there is some crossover between the two. Message, languages and media are in the center to indicate that messages are transmitted in between producers/creators and consumers/audiences. But then Foulger’s model takes a wrong turn: He asserts that creators “imagine and create messages” and consumers “observe, attribute and interpret messages.” True, but these definitions exclude the more active consumer base, or the “prosumers.”
Who is to say that the consumers aren’t the ones who are creating or imagining original content? This is the definition of blogging and user-generated information on the Web. Producers, as mentioned multiple times in Charlene Li’s “The Groundswell,” should be constantly observing and interpreting their message as well. Success comes from listening to consumers and responding to their needs. Foulger’s model also leaves out the idea that consumers are communicating with each other—more now than ever before. Interpretation of messages occurs within the consumer base, not just per individual Web user.
With all this being said, how can one create a model that includes all of the necessary components? Interactive media is allowing for a more transparent information flow, making it more difficult to define specific roles in the communication timeline. Where can individuals confidently place themselves in any existing model?
With the help of classmates Paul Wagner, Linda Misiura, Jordan Yost and Andrew Rushton, we were able to develop a new working model, the “Me”dia, or the “Me” model: An interactive wheel of message processing.
Instead of focusing on additional players in communications, this model focuses on the individual. Each instance of the wheel represents one person. The inner wheel portrays different types of messages in terms of their participatory levels, or opportunities for creative input by the consumer. The outer wheel defines the different roles that consumers can play in the communications process: Creators, responders, lurkers and inactive audience. The outer wheel spins independently, thereby illustrating that consumers do not take on one role, but instead they transform depending on the message, and the personality of the individual who is viewing the message.