Visualisation. The literal meaning of that word could be arguably understood as being equal to what it means to publish. In essence making content public and publically available to an audience that wasn’t public before. The only condition that distinguishes visualisation from publishing is the requirement that the visualised/published content must be visually construable. In this instance printing a book is the visualisation of written words and/or the publishing of those. Does one determine the other? Are they really both the same or rather interdependent processes? Maybe visualisation is a pre-requisite for visual publishing. If something is not visually available, I can’t publish it to be seen by an audience.
The visualisation of cave paintings, stone circles, hieroglyphs up to the visualisation of letters, words and therefore books have always impacted massively on society and sociability. Referring back to one of my earlier examples in this blog, the protestant reformation is one great example how the publishing of the bible/the visualisation of christianity’s fundamental basis caused such an immense revolutionary social movement.
Today visualisation implies crazy graphs, digitally mediated content, dynamic tools and as Mr Arnell (2006) explains how it enables us to “express something three- or four dimensional in two dimensions” (Arnell, 2006). In a digital information age I believe that we can all agree that technological development influences our society through how we see, perceive and understand content that is visualised for us.
Infosthetic (2007) exemplifies a very basic but even more effective kind of visualisation. Two pictures showing one the one hand a whole load of paprikas, and on the other hand a small amount of chips. A very easy visualisation of what you can get for the same amount of calories, which leads me to my next point. So if visualisation helps us to communicate messages a lot easier, quicker and even more effective than a long written explanation (or visualised words I should say), is that the result of psychological and marketing research? Did the technological development of digital media force our brains to hyper react to images rather than to texts? Is that the reason why we study visual communications?-to apply psychological and social research to concepts that help us to improve our market influence and manipulation.
Bick (2014) argues that “complex data visualisation has grown in popularity over the past decade”(Bick, 2014). HD screens and retina displays belong in all our devices and support us even more to decode all the various kinds of visualisations that the producers of this world encoded for us. But still, on the one hand, technology only enables us to encode these new forms of visualisations/to make something invisible (our ideas/data/mindset) visible and on the other hand we can only decode them through this technology. So the technology is in the centre of it all? Again?
How this has impacted on society as a whole becomes clear when one regards the effectiveness of information delivery of a pie chart. 90% of people would memorise proportions better after seeing a pie chart compared to a table with only visualised letters, numbers, words and symbols. What does that tell us? Theory, that I also mentioned in previous blog posts displays how our brains and attention are more likely to focus on digital/pictorial delivered information, which is easier to consume than difficultly written texts.
Of course it is nice and beautiful to look at an amazingly composed graphic visualisation of data. Compact, easy, fast and effective! But does it push us more and more into a backwards regression? Will we soon be looking back in our children’s books without text? Will we develop away from literacy towards solely visual-literacy?
— Sorry that I could only visualise words here. I don’t quite know yet how to visualise such a post as an image.