Informal Communication Channels

Traditionally, the main forms of informal communication in science, technology, medicine etc. have been through oral communication channels - personal contacts with colleagues and teachers - seminars, lectures, and discussions at conferences, fairs etc. These oral channels are often rapid and effective for conveying information. They allow a high degree of flexibility and are easy and pleasant to use. There is the possibility of a two-way communication between the producer and the receiver of the information. However, oral communication is seldom comprehensive; for example, it can be difficult to give detailed information about methods, constructions or results in a verbal presentation. Oral communication sometimes stimulates the hearer to look for some form of printed communication, but some information does not exist in a printed form, and can, therefore, only be reached by means of oral communication.
A widespread network of personal contacts is of great importance for gathering information. Research workers are particularly interested in obtaining the most recent information about developments within their own subject fields. Informal verbal communication is valued for the speed of information transfer. Established research workers gradually build up "the invisible college," an informal communication network.

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