arjun chandra

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1. The Talking Drums

2. Too Many Beats (Redundancy) Keeps the Message Alive

3. Redundancy in Language

4. Redundancy in Digital Communication

1. The Talking Drums

In the heart of Africa centuries ago, they picked up drums. Rhythms ensued, and they all meant something. They were not merely signals for raising alarms. They were not like a chain of bonfires on mountain tops that were lit one after the other to communicate alerts in times of war, like ancient Greeks are said to have done. They could in fact contain poetry and elaborate messages. Such messages could go far and wide, relayed form village to village, travelling hundreds of miles in a matter of hours. Not a word was spoken, not a word was written, there were only drum beats and they contained these messages. This was an early form of long distance communication. This was also a long standing dream in the rest of the world at the time: to communicate messages faster than travellers on foot or horseback.

Of course, spoken word would normally travel at the speed of the messenger. Indeed, many messengers reached their destinations after the event they were meant to communicate. Julius Caesar often arrived before the messenger sent to announce his arrival. A written message would have the same fate, as the speed of the fastest courier was still the speed of the messenger on horseback, or a pigeon for that matter.

Drum beats, on the contrary, would reach much before the event they were meant to convey. Distant villages could even rap with reach other if you like, solely by beats, building on a chain of thought beat after beat. They surely conveyed jokes in drum beats. Drummers would talk in the medium of drum beats. Travellers to Africa were astonished how a far off village they were visiting for the very first time would already know what they liked for breakfast, amongst other things. So, how did drums let humans talk?