Six Types of Electronic Communication
By Keith Evans
Electronic communication takes many forms, each with its own applications, benefits and drawbacks. Though some electronic media may seem more familiar than others, each can instantly connect people whether they’re a few miles away or a few thousand miles away.
Perhaps one of the most well known and most ubiquitous forms of electronic communication, email provides a channel for exchanging messages in much the same method as traditional mail. One user generates a message, addresses it to a recipient, sends it and, if one is warranted, waits for a reply. The asynchronous nature of email makes it ideal for users who do not want to become involved in, or do not have time for, a lengthy conversation.
Much like email, instant messages allow you to generate a message, send it and wait for a reply. Unlike email, though, instant messages connect users through a central server that instantly delivers the electronic communication. Because both the sender and the recipient must typically be logged in to start an instant message communication, the immediate message delivery facilitates a near real-time conversation. When the instant message server connects multiple users to each other, it acts as a chat room where many users can instantly exchange messages with one another, meet new people and even set up private instant messaging conversations.
Websites can take many forms and serve as a wide variety of electronic communication channels. In their most basic form, websites simply disseminate information to visitors who access and read information on the site. Other websites, like forums, facilitate communication by allowing you to post a public message and then check later to see if the message received any replies. Social media websites take a similar approach, allowing you to share aspects of your life and then read followup comments from friends.
Mobile phone users can use electronic communication on the go with a service known as Short Messaging Service. SMS messages, which are more commonly known as text messages, allow you to send an electronic communication of up to 160 characters to another SMS-enabled device. Though mobile phone owners typically use text messages to communicate directly with another individual via phone, SMS can allow users to interact with almost any SMS-capable machine.
Electronic audio communication dates back to the 1876 invention of the telephone, a device that converts sounds into electrical impulses and sends them over copper wires to a remote unit that converts them back into sound. Today, though, audio traverses an array of electronic channels that includes radio, television, mobile phones and even Internet-connected electronic devices.
Many viewers are familiar with video as an electronic communication channel like TV or movies, but modern broadband Internet allows video to serve as a somewhat more interactive medium. By capturing a rapid series of photos, bundling them with sound and transmitting them over the Internet to a remote user, webcams allow users to instantly communicate via full-motion video chat.
Keith Evans has been writing professionally since 1994 and now works from his office outside of Orlando. He has written for various print and online publications and wrote the book, "Appearances: The Art of Class." Evans holds a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication from Rollins College and is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in strategic leadership from Andrew Jackson University.