Monday, May 09, 2016

Text Vs. Graphics

David Foster over at Chicago Boyz reprised an earlier post of his his (from 2007 via 2013) about how we process information how that affects us.  The context is computer programming, jumping off from Neal Stephenson's In The Beginning... Was The Command Line, and the comments section gets rather bogged down in that.  But I think it has more value in general, contemplating the danger of image-based knowledge, because it is less traceable and thus leaves us less able to step outside it and challenge it.

I listen to sports radio, which is very word-based.  I can't think of another consistent interface I have with popular culture that isn't text-based - no movies, TV, or music, and most of my internet use is text as well.  I don't much look at pictures or watch videos.  I have developed a deep distrust of their power to persuade.  They are not as powerful as the re-enactment rituals that come down to us from our remote ancestors, but they hack into that part of our brains, I think. We have invented photographs and movies without asking whether we have any defense against what they teach.

Bsking rightly warns us to beware all infographics, and she is more than half-serious when she writes that. We have handed over the keys to our brains to others we know not. I watch it happening to others around me, like Berenger watching Jean, Dudard, The Logician, and Daisy in "Rhinoceros." Except of course that I might be one of the others (Botard?) and one of you is Berenger.

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