This month’s quote is brought to us by Nick Bilton, author, professor and technology reporter for The New York Times in his July 1 Disruptions column, “Dropping the Tedium of Typing for Photos That Say It All.” Given the article’s length I’m excerpting way too much of it I’m sure. But it’s chock full of so many interesting observations I couldn’t rein in the work of my scissors (and Elmer’s glue).
“Photos, once slices of a moment in the past – sunsets, meetings with friends, the family vacation – are fast becoming an entirely new type of dialogue. The cutting-edge crowd is learning that communicating with a simple image, be it a picture of what’s for dinner or a street sign that slyly indicates to a friend, “Hey, I’m waiting for you,” is easier than bothering with words, even in a world of hyper-abbreviated Twitter posts and texts. “This is a watershed time where we are moving away from photography as a way of recording and storing a past moment,” said Robin Kelsey, a professor of photography at Harvard, and we are “turning photography into a communication medium.”
…Snapchat is a mobile application that allows a person to take and send a picture or video, then control how long – up to 10 seconds – it’s visible to the person who receives it. After the photo is viewed, it disappears forever, like a casual exchange on the street. “You have images now that have no possible afterlife,” said Kelsey. “They are simply communicative.”
…What’s more, there are no language barriers with images. As the world grows smaller, thanks to technology, people from all over the globe can chat with images that translate into a universal tongue. Do you speak only Mandarin? No problem, you can now communicate with someone who speaks only English. Take a picture and reply. Germans and Spaniards? Snap! Send. Done.
…It’s a shift that appears to be coming at the expense of the last big thing. Images sent between cellphones are on the rise as text messages continue to fall, according to CTIA, the trade association for the wireless industry. An industry report released this year said 2.19 trillion text messages were sent and received in 2012, about 5 percent less than a year earlier. In comparison, MMS, or multimedia messages that include photos and videos, grew by 41 percent to 74.5 billion in 2012.
…So isn’t this all bad for society? Another blow for the English language where children won’t even bother to communicate in LOL-speak anymore? “We’re tiptoeing into a potentially very deep and interesting new way of communicating,” said Mitchell Stephens, author of “The Rise of the Image, the Fall of the Word,” and a journalism professor at New York University.”–Nick Bilton, NYT, Business section, July 1