What are the characteristics of a Master?

In order to communicate clearly, we must think clearly. If we are to think clearly, we must analyze concepts into their component parts and then synthesize the reflection into a coherent whole.

As part of our final meeting in the ICS 602 Human Communication Process and Theory course, the seminar analyzed the characteristics of a Master; as we continue on the road to mastery through the Center for Information and Communication Sciences graduate program, we state that a Master is:

    • Proficient in “visioneering” – Sophie Guetzko
    • Driven – Ryan Schoonover
    • Confident in their answers – Morgan Byasee
    • Dependable – Adam Vang
    • Thoroughly competent – Joe Porcelli
    • Adaptable, lives under pressure, and feels accomplished – Natalia Nazareth
    • One who leads by example – Jared Armstrong
    • A life-long learner – Randy Hiser
    • Analytical of context – Samaria Chicas
    • Visionary – Heather Vaughn
    • Resourceful – Jennings Banter
    • Creative – Temo Macias
    • Professional in their communication and appearance – Alison Lytle
    • A professional communicator – Chelsee Purvis
    • Curious/inquisitive about the world they live and work in – Erica Stevens
    • Patient – Nate Atkinson
    • Persistent – Quinn Sheridan
    • A great note taker – Preston Radtke
    • Disciplined – Deja Studdard
    • Someone who takes initiative to develop their field and peers – Katelyn Zehner
    • Someone who makes critical observations in any situation – Dakota Wappes
    • Someone who effectively filters and synthesizes information – Megan Roche
    • A competent individual – Emeka Egwuonwu
    • Someone who can adapt well to teamwork – Kristina Turner
    • Eager for a paradigm shift – Aaron Bender
    • A servant leader – Tom Stevenson
    • Someone who has the ambition to walk the paths that have been untouched and the wisdom to adapt to the situations from his failure – Justin Anderson
    • Inviolable – Victoria Bishop
    • Adept at solving complex problems – John Vellenga

While any one word cannot describe a Master, through the synthesis  of these characteristics we create the action (praxis) of being Masters. As Dr. Gillette says, “walk on two legs” – it’s the thinkin’ and doin’ that will get you there.

Copy + Paste – Inspiration and Transformation of Ideas

“…there is nothing new under the sun. “(Ecclesiastes 1:9, The New King James Version)

The subject of plagiarism is pertinent in the world of academia now more than ever; the internet allows us to have access to any information we seek immediately. The research that previously would have required one to travel to particular libraries is now reduced to a trip to a search engine.

Plagarism in academic work is the theft of ideas and ideas. It is critical to give credit to the sources you use in your research. But I think that some academic discretion must be given when developing a new take on old ideas. While this can sometimes be taken as “copying” existing works, this is the only way new ideas can come to fruition.

However, this form of thought process must be carefully monitored by the researcher and implemented with integrity.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica
Source: Encyclopædia Britannica

As demonstrated most in the arts, a new take on old ideas can spark movements. Elvis Presley’s rock and roll was a take on blues music which was inspired by African tribal beats; the surrealist movement that included “originals” such as Salvador Dalí drew visual inspiration from indigenous African and American art.

Cultural appropriation is often tacked to the previously described artists as it should – the denial or commercialization of the intellectual property of other cultures has created serious issues socially. But, it is possible to obtain “inspiration” without damaging or demeaning  it’s source.

After starting a web series called Everything is a Remix in which he stated that all art is derived from existing art, Kirby Ferguson followed up with a his “4 Steps to Getting an Idea“. He breaks down the creative process into three steps:

  1. Copy
  2. Transform
  3. Combine
Source: Everything is a Remix

The “combine” is the resulting idea. Ferguson notes that “the conscious mind supplies the subconscious mind with the materials it needs”.

In a way, this borrowing allows for theme development; while “everything is a remix” (meaning that everything come from things that already exist), we can still forge ideas that move thoughts forward or in a different direction.

Blind plagiarism is the theft of intellectual property; inspired ideas crafted with integrity is creativity.

Human Communication – The What, How, and Why

As part of our coursework for ICS 602  (Human Communication: Process and Theory), we were tasked with developing a comprehensive written exam on our analysis of the practice of human communication as part of our synthesis of theory of human communication. Below is my discourse on the topic, including the original abstract and headings. 

A More Perfect Union: Praxis of Human Communication In an Evolving World

Samaria Chicas,  Ball State University

ICS 602 – Human Communication: Process and Theory, Dr. Jay E. Gillette


Human Communication, in practice, creates an evolution in practitioners through medium and context. To effectively communicate, the reflection and re-engagement in communication must be a continuous process.


Communication occurs in our world at even the atomic level. Beings, cells, energy, and other organisms transmit information intentionally or accidentally. But it seems humans, given the consciousness to think outside of the current circumstance, are alone in theorizing about how they communicate.

As a student of communication and information science, I will explain in this paper my analysis of human communication as an evolving practice, changed and manipulated by context and available mediums. This will be done through explanation of my theory of human communication, its practice, and how it comes together.

Theory, systematic thinking, and practice (doing) create a feedback loop that moves forward as it unites (praxis) and gets reanalyzed (theory) and re-applied (practice). This union of theory and practice, as an ongoing process is illustrated in figure 1 (Gillette, Oct 2016).

Figure 1 - Relationship Between Theory and Practice


To begin my analysis of the practice of human communication, I will define the term and then provide explanation of the components. The definition does not seek to confine discourse but simply provide a framework for development. As suggested, “definitions…are tools that should be used flexibly” (Littlejohn, 2011, 5). Human Communication is the sending and receiving of data through a medium within a context.

The sending and receiving are neither symbiotic nor dependent; while there are two or more parties involved, reception of a message is not required for communication to occur. As an example, our evolving and culturally differing body language provides a means for non-verbal communication that is sometimes not received. Since “non-verbal communication may not be voluntary or successful”, a practitioner may work to improve its reception (Anderson, 2016). In Western cultures, business women are coached in ways to display more dominating body language so as to improve this non-verbal conveyance of power.

Data refers to the message or messages being sent. This can be in the form of “sounds, media, or actions” (Bishop, 2016).

The medium is the channel that the data is sent and received through. This can be verbal, non-verbal, visual mediums; we have found an increase in the mediums available to us as technology advances.

The context is the situation in which this happens. To me, this is where the “human” comes in; our culture, language, and position provide a frame for the sender and receiver in the communication process, illustrated in figure 2.

Figure 2 - Communication Process


Human Communication in action formed the basis for our civilization today. Through our ability to agree on what things meant, we evolved a way to create and combine data into “information [to be] understood, selected, filtered and used to make a decision” (Gillette, 2000, 7).

In practice of human communication, context becomes key. The identity of the participants, environment, language (including grammar or slang), and values frame the data and medium. For example, hand gestures mean different things in different cultures; a ‘peace’ sign in the United States has a more vulgar interpretation in the United Kingdom.

Technology has found ways to create common understandings through use of visual communications. The modern emoji or emoticon keyboard provides a set of human-like facial expressions that have an increasingly common meaning for social media users.

The mediums through which we practice human communication also expand as technology innovates to improve human interaction. Previously restricted by distance, people are now able to have face-to-face meetings from long distances. This adds a non-verbal component to what was once only auditory.

The medium and context are at a constant battle for the sender and receiver; the many “tyrannies of architecture”, such as noise, physical arrangements, and socially applied positions of power (titles, for example) create distortions of data (Gillette, Aug 2016). The practicing human communicator is tasked with interpreting the received message despite these limitations, since “elements of human communication are learned [and] obtained through direct experiences” (Littlejohn, 2011, 4).

This interaction of elements come together to make a loop of learning. We ‘do’ communication, ‘learn’ and ‘assess’ the feedback, and ‘do’ once again.


As humans practice communication, we create an evolving practice that is altered continuously by our available mediums and changing contexts.

If “knowledge is ultimately what we understand” and what we understand changes as we communicate and learn, then that same knowledge re-expressed can have a completely different meaning depending on the context and medium (Gillette, 2000, 3).

The understanding of this cycle becomes increasingly important as we work to improve technology and the way we do business in a global context. We are bringing the world together despite cultural barriers but without ignoring them. As Tom Peters repeatedly describes in his book Thriving on Chaos, listening is what makes the difference between success and failure. This practice of taking in communication “systematically – and unsystematically…for facts – and for perceptions” allows us to put the knowledge gained into motion (Peters, 1988, 176).

The value of undistorted feedback, which we are able to perceive through the practice and reflection (theory post-practice) of communication, becomes a determinant for the longevity of any organization (Peters, 1988, 185).

To effectively communicate is to allow change to be changed continuously.


Anderson, Justin. “Definition of Human Communication.” ICS602 Human Communication: Process and Theory. Dr. Jay Gillette. 2016. Print.

Bishop, Victoria. “Definition of Human Communication.” ICS602 Human Communication: Process and Theory. Dr. Jay Gillette. 2016. Print.

Gillette, Jay. “ICS602 Human Communication: Process and Theory.” Letterman Building 269, Ball State University, Muncie. 24 Aug. 2016. Lecture.

Gillette, Jay. “ICS602 Human Communication: Process and Theory.” Letterman Building 269, Ball State University, Muncie. 12 Oct. 2016. Lecture.

Gillette, Jay Edwin. (2000). ““Information is Knowledge in Motion”: A Practical Framework for Understanding Knowledge Management.” Print.

Littlejohn, Stephen W., and Karen A. Foss. Theories of Human Communication. 10th ed. Long Grove, IL: Waveland, 2011. Print.

Peters, Thomas J. Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. Print.