Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Whirl

Visual thinking guru, Dave Gray provides a demonstration of visual language in relation to The Whirl, which is the dense cloud of noise, signal, data and information that swarms and bundles around us in a seemingly chaotic manner. Visual language can cut through this fog and cross lingual and cultural barriers as a sort of global auxiliary language, something we'll need as The Whirl intensifies. (The Whirl is so much more euphonious and comprehensive than terms like 'ubiquitous computing' or 'information overload.')

Images are the primal language. William S. Burroughs's 'Language is a Virus' thread explores the supplanting of the visual with the verbal.

And yet still, we are highly dependent on visual information. So much so, that we often equate our thinking with it. When have you ever heard of a scientific theory based on smell or taste? Studies of sensory data are always conducted with graphical outputs. You don't have an olfactor for your computer. When we communicate verbally that we understand, we often say, "I see." It was a big jump for many of us as kids to go from looking at the pictures to reading the text. We observe holidays and monitor the situation.

As visually oriented creatures, we'd be well served by developing a more methodical and informed skill set for communicating visually. We already do this in many ways. However, as a medium that is understood, mastered and universally adopted, visual language is still in its childhood. I look forward to seeing this kid grow up.

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