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A Picture is worth…. The danger of representation

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It is said that, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

That is all well and good.  But, pictures mean different things to different people.  And, people pick up different clues depending on what parts of the picture they focus on.

Pictures are an interpretation.  So, in some cases, a picture may be a very dangerous representation of an idea, concept, direction, strategy, architecture, or whatever someone is trying to communicate.

A picture is, “worth a thousand words”, but when used for communication they are not your words – they are the words (in the minds) of the interpretation – and you have lost control of your message.

To make the point, look at the picture below.  Is the image moving?  Is that your interpretation?  Cover part of the picture and look at the moving section again.

Is seeing believing?  If you see parts of the image moving, and you believe that they are, then you are wrong.  The image below in not an animated image.  Although the picture below is an obvious optical illusion there are some images, pictures, and representations that are much more subtle and less obvious of their potential ambiguous message – these are the dangerous landmines of communication.  (Read about a recent example in Chicago here )

See more optical illusions here –

How Complexity leads to simplicity

Watch a TED video on the value of simple visualization tools and interpreting a diagram of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.


Written by frrl

March 18, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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