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December 14, 2012


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John Maloney

Amen. Good comments. However, to paraphrase one comment, that may be a more accurate assessment of the situation,

"Like many great inventions, the uses of images and video slowly evolved."

Quickly, one correction is that it is very, very easy to capture, cut-n-paste, syndicate images, audio and video. Try SnagIt. Highly recommended.

Yes, videos and images can be a nuisance. The ad-based preambles are dreadful. The dopey 'slide shows' intended to drive page impressions are horrible. Trojan Horse advertising and other ambushes are reprehensible. So forth and so on.

Remember podcasting? How about teleconferencing? Podcasting was to change publishing forever. Teleconferencing was going to save on corporate travel. Neither ever happened. So forth and so on.

Cognitive science says information grazing is far better for us. Doctors say it is healthier. So forth and so on.

If I hear one more entrepreneur here in Silicon Valley say their new collaborative app will 'replace email' I will scream (and gag) and promptly excuse myself from the meeting.

Having said all this, it is important to acknowledge humans are sensory beings. We are not text processors. Most information comes to us visually by far. The brain works visually and with images, sounds, touch, and so on.

Meanwhile, it takes a minimum of 12 years of robust education to achieve basic competency in the phonetic alphabet. Begs the question if that great span of learning could be used more productively...

Besides, alphabet is just a sequence of images. So forth and so on.

One way or another images, video, sound and other visual and tactile mechanisms are the future of computing beyond text.

In 1957 the US Dept of Labor report there were now more white-collar workers than blue-collar. So began the widespread textualization of work, the so-called Information Revolution. It has run its fifty year course as predicted by McLuhan and B. Fuller. With hyper-fluid images, sound and video we are simply entering a new era.


Note: this transformation will be greatly accelerated by sensor computing and the Internet of Things.

Bill Ives


Thanks for your comments, They provide a very important balance to what I wrote. I am actually a very visual person. As a painter and photographer I respond better to images in many situations, To quote Grace Slick there are times "when words cannot say enough." I was just writing about the Web here. As a cognitive psychologist I also know that many so-called tests of reasoning were actually just word comprehension tests. Happy holidays.

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