Sure, I can code a message using my phone torch

Coding seems simple right? You have a code, I have the same code, you communicate something and I decode it using the same code. Wow was I wrong! During the first meda102 workshop, we were given a code that we had to transmit without sound from the top of one building to the bottom of the other.

Optical Semaphore telegraph
Optical Semaphore telegraph

This worked very much like the Optical Semaphore Telegraph typically used for sending military messages and messages over a long distance. The movement of the two arms of the telegraph indicated a new letter—however, this could be quite confusing as the perspective of some angles of the telegraph look relatively similar and so confusing letters together.

Our group decided to appropriate Morse Code using the light from our phone. The simple ‘o’ and ‘-‘ were two symbols that were used to describe the whole alphabet.

International Morse Code
International Morse Code

Using this defined mode of communication as an abstraction of language, we had to create a ‘handshake’ signal that would signify that the other group understood what we said, or to repeat, or an indication that our transmission had failed that that we had to start again, or the beginning of a new letter or word—thus a state tracking of the code.

This method seemed successful in theory; however, there were many other factors that hindered the complete transmission of the complete sentence to the other group. The use of the light to indicate dots or dashes proved to be difficult as the short burst of light became too long and so blurred with the dash confusing the other group. Another issue was that our phone died halfway through forcing us to stop the activity.

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