A New Form of Communication – by Jessica Kilmer

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According to Oxford Dictionary, a “hub” is “the effective center of an activity, region, or network.” This could mean the moving of people, objects, information, etc. There are a variety of hubs around the world, such as transport and communication hubs. Communication hubs transfer information from at least one individual to another. Scotland completely changed my traditional viewpoint of communication in cities across the world.

When I think of large communication hubs around the globe, I think of New York City, Tokyo, Los Angeles, London, and so many others. Large cities have the ability to attract huge groups of people and facilitate communication. This could be in the form of simply talking or using big, flashy signs to communicate something.

Arthur’s Seat proved to be much more than just a mountain (or dormant volcano) in Scotland. It is the highest point among the hills in Holyrood Park and is a significant tourist destination in Edinburgh. Who would have thought that a mountain could serve as a major communication hub in the quaint town of Edinburgh?! In the United States, a great example of a communication hub is Times Square in New York City. Nearly 330,000 people pass through Times Square every day, which gives companies the ability to have thousands of impressions daily. There are lights and signs all over that are constantly trying to convey some type of message to people walking or driving through Times Square.

Downtown Edinburgh often appeared to be quite barren for the majority of our trip. The streets were rarely filled with people, unlike many capital cities in the United States. At times, you could walk three blocks and only see a handful of people. Surprisingly, some stores almost seemed closed even during business hours. The lack of advertising was unexpected, much like my reaction in Dublin and Cardiff. What I didn’t realize is that Edinburgh’s unique communication hub was right outside my window! Flashy signs on buses and buildings are not the only ways to create a flow of communication. A unique communication hub stood 800 ft. tall surrounding the University of Edinburgh.

On our last day in Edinburgh, we decided to make a second climb onto Arthur’s Seat. Rather than simply hiking, quickly looking at the view, and then making the trek back down, we decided to have a picnic at the top. As we began our walk up the mountain, I couldn’t believe the amount of people doing the same thing as us. The mountain was flooded with people from a variety of different backgrounds. It was as if everyone that I thought would be in downtown Edinburgh was climbing the mountain. I soon realized that Arthur’s seat was more than a dormant volcano; it also serves as a meeting place and hub for a mixture of people. When we finally reached the peak, I realized that we had talked to individuals from England, Scotland, Brazil, and the United States. On our way up the mountain, we fell into conversation easily with all sorts of people. Whether they were from the University of Edinburgh or half way across the world, each person had a story to tell and a message to share. It seemed like nearly everyone on the mountain was talking to someone at some point during his or her hike. I left Arthur’s Peak with the realization that a beautiful mountain without any type of media can also be used to transfer information from one person to another.

Communication in large cities in the United States greatly depends on flashy signage to grab people’s attention. The hustle and bustle of the cities makes it hard to stop people in their tracks to look at an ad, let alone talk to one another. People are so immersed in their own lives that the signs and ads have to do most of the talking. Times Square utilizes every single piece of space to advertise something. There are words and pictures on billboards, taxis, buses, buildings, benches, and so much more! People are bombarded with messages as soon as they step foot into Times Square. Knowing many large U.S. cities, I had an idea in my head of what the major cities in the UK may look like. This idea was very different from the reality of the beautiful, charming Edinburgh.

The advertisements in New York City are intentional, and companies pay a lot of money to have an advertisement in Times Square. The placement and design of an ad can make or break a company depending on if the message is communicated correctly or not. Differently, the communication that occurred on the mountain was unintentional and did not require big signs. Hikers in Edinburgh do not realize what they will learn about someone or something when they begin their walk up the mountain. A new mindset or new information can occur by simply talking to someone on Arthur’s Seat.

Though Times Square and Arthur’s Seat seem to be worlds apart, there are some similarities between the two. Both places are huge attractions for both visitors and people living in New York City or Edinburgh. When you walk through Times Square, you leave with new information or a new want for something that you saw on an advertisement or sign. Similarly, when you climb down Arthur’s Seat you can leave with a new idea or a new outlook just from talking to fellow hikers. Before Scotland, I would have never thought that an enchanting mountain could serve as a hub for people to communicate.

Through exploring Edinburgh, I learned that flows of communication can exist in the most unusual places, even 800 ft. above the ground. Arthur’s seat is at the heart of Edinburgh, and it proved to be much more than a pretty sight. The beauty of the mountain attracts individuals from all over, and creates a hub for all types of people. Scotland taught me that both advertisements and people can effectively communicate a message. A picturesque mountainside provides a place for communication to flow just like a large, populated city.

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