In this final installment of my series on the scalability of language online, I want to take a look at the role of design. So far we've looked at the challenges of language, the problems with machine translation, and the role of video. Design, though, enables ideas to transcend language to reach a much broader audience.
One of the best (if not the best) example of someone who uses design to convey complex ideas effortlessly is David Armano. Let's look at this illustration. To convey the complex ecosystem that has been created through the birth of social media and the immense fragmentation, David used a series of ripples. Like a rock thrown into a pond, it's something everyone is familiar with. The size of the circles conveys their impact (as would the size of the rock). It's intuitive and doesn't need copy to assist it.
I asked David to give his thought on the use of design to overcome the language gap:
"We were born with two eyes. Before we could speak words, we could see the world, recognize the faces of our parents and gaze into their eyes.
Somewhere along the way, we forgot how important visual stimulus really is. We scribbled drawings before writing. Visuals help bring us back to a universal understanding where words can sometimes fail us. It's time to pick up our crayons again."
Other bloggers use design to help us think through ideas. Roger von Oech uses his offline products to inspire us all to be more creative. He taps into his wildly successful (and I can personally say very helpful) Whack Pack series to help you think differently. The imagery on each card gives you a better idea of what you can expect.
Design also manifests itself with photography and there is nobody who uses photography better and is more prolific than Thomas Hawk. Thomas is a photographer in San Francisco who covers topics that he is passionate about including photography (duh), photographer's rights and social media. Many of his posts are comprised of single photographs that convey the emotion of the time and place.
These are just a few of the examples where design helps to transcend language. It's a very powerful tool when put in the right hands. Design can just as easily confuse and bankrupt ideas of their merit.
Who have you noticed that uses design to convey ideas? Have you seen it used incorrectly? Let me know your thoughts.
[This was supposed to auto-post last Friday. Sorry for the delay.]