Let’s explore what was learned from the last Weekend Assignment’s theme, communication.

Around 196 BC a congress of priests gathered in Memphis, Egypt to inscribe a stele (stone slab) with the decree of their new king, Ptolemy V.

This Memphis decree was later unearthed by the French Expeditionary army, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1799. The stele was located near the port city of Rosetta, and to this day it is known as the Rosetta Stone.

What was so amazing about this discovery was the fact that the Memphis decree was written in three languages, Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Egyptian Demotic script, and Ancient Greek. This made it possible for the first time in modern history to translate Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and gave birth to the field of Egyptology.

The Memphis decree was inscribed with three languages to ensure its message would reach the widest audience possible. Having decrees, signs, public documents in multiple languages has now become common practice. Even modern forms of hieroglyphs (symbols) are used in order to communicate to the broadest audience possible. Also known as an ideogram, “a graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept, independent of any particular language”.

Road signs are an example of ideograms being used to convey a message without using language that the observer might, or might not understand. A more recent use of ideograms and symbols to convey a message are emoji’s.

Emoji’s first originated on Japanese mobile phones in the 1990’s and soon became popular worldwide when Apple included them on their iPhone. Shortly after, Android and other mobile operating systems adopted the ideograms.

Beginning in 2010 emoji’s were incorporated into Unicode, a system for indexing characters to ensure standardization across different operating systems.

In 2015 the Oxford Dictionary named ? (Face With Tears of Joy) as their word of the year.

What is this movie?: ????????????

With emoji’s, the internet, and more accurate language translation, human communication across the world has become easier. The furthest form of human communication is Voyager Spacecraft’s Golden Records. The records contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent life form that may come across them. Sadly the records were sent out before the invention of emoji’s.

This brings us to this week’s Weekend Assignment, travel.

Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to learn something about travel.

Here are potential avenues which you could explore:

  • Spaceflight
  • The invention of roads
  • The wheel
  • Flight

Share what you learn with us on Twitter by tagging us and using #SaylorAssignment or start the conversation on Discourse.

If you want to learn more about communication we have a few courses that might interest you. Click here to see our catalog on Communications courses.