To see or not to see?

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I last wrote in this blog. Time sure does fly, especially when we head into the holiday season with Christmas just around the corner. Maybe one of my new year’s resolutions should be to write more often… It seems friends and family, as well as some other people, liked my recent article about how Crisis Mapping and new technologies can be used for reducing disaster risk – well at least that’s what Facebook is telling me. Anyway, it’s always nice to get positive feedback and encouragement, given that writing is such a personal thing and people are pretty free to tear things apart.

Are we (becoming) a visual society? The photos in this post taken during this year’s Fete des Lumieres in Lyon, France illustrate that we are (and have been) a very visual society. Given that we now live in a age where screens have become second nature, do we need (more) images and visuals to stimulate the way we feed on information? The CrisisMappers conference that sparked the idea for the above article I wrote provided a good insight into this issue.

Fete des Lumeries - Cathedral Saint Jean

From the surface, CrisisMappers ICCM2011, the 3rd INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ofCRISIS MAPPERS, seemed to be full of visuals and the way we can now collect and share information in real-time through our mobile phones, the internet, iPads, etc… But at the same time, I went to one of the side events where a group of 50+ people talked about how to better communicate the visuals – going beyond just dots on a map. So even with all this data and info that we can generate and collect, it seems we still have problems sifting through it all to tell a story. Do we need people who can both understand the technical bits of making things visual AND who can understand how all the visual and textual bits fit together to tell a story that makes sense to the world? Personally, I think it’s a good sign that we can’t just rely on making things “pretty”, and that we can’t just rely on the fact that the “facts/content speaks for itself”. It means that people working in the communication industry still have a lot of value – just as long as people are willing to evolve and change with the times, and understand the content and communication needs of the general public.

Fete des Lumieres - Place Louis Pradel leaves us wide-eyed

All this talk of “visuals” makes me think about people who are visually impaired or blind – how does our current technologies help them stay connected? But that’ll have to be another post!



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