The multimedia World

multimedia World

Let’s start with numbers. In February 2014 the WhatsApp users exchanged approximately 600 million images in a month. The same month, two years later, the exchanged images have become 1.600 million, exactly a BILLION more. Over the same period, the video messages have increased from 100 million to 250 million (according to Statistics).
YouTube, the multimedia storage of knowledge, this year receives every second approximately 300 hours of video. The proportion between the actual time and the stored digital time is 1 to more than one million (according to Brandwatch).

We store a million copies of each second we live on this planet. 

On Facebook are used every day 100 million hours of video (according to Techcrunch), and still talking of Facebook we find equally important the statistics on the number of images uploads (loadings), even if uncertain, they vary depending on the source, between 300 million and 80 million photo uploads per day; an extraordinary number, no doubt!
Without considering Instagram, the social network based on images and video sharing, that in February 2013 had approximately 100 million active users and today, no more than three years later has 500 million active users on a monthly bases (according to Statista).

Millions of cyberusers post photos (or videos) on the Internet with events or facts that have characterized their day.

In the last decade we have created a limitless digital space where anyone can position images, videos and audios. Server after server, disk after disk, rack after rack we are building a “Multimedia World”.
The smartphones are the access keys to this new world. The phone is not just for calling; it offers multiple services, online services, first of all the possibility to make videos, to take pictures and to share them immediately.
The purchase of a smartphone cannot be separated from the camera’s quality, a crucial factor in accordance with the video’s dimensions and resolution.

Our relation with our smartphone and internet is more and more symbiotic and multimedia. 

The way we deal with an event has changed for most of us, not only for the youngest ones; we live it, but more and more often we try to record it and share it. We are constantly looking for consent.
In the 21st century, every day all of us live a significant media exposure. This exposure, in the recent past, concerned only public figures and celebrities. Now has generated the need to be popular, appreciated, mentioned by our real or virtual community.
More and more often the personal success goes hand in hand with the popularity gained online, popularity which brings with it the obligation to expose oneself in a multi-media way; by means of videos, photos, audio messages. We examine all that surrounds us from a new perspective while we live the moment we consider it with a view to sharing it with our friends and followers, depending on our popularity.

We post what we do and sometimes we do it only to post it.

Events sharing, facts and news sharing have excessively increased, and that is good for most of the times… The press reports have reconsidered a new way of communication, real-time, ever more based on the multimedia material made by common people.
The multimedia information, limitless and fast comes more and more from the plain folks. 
As every big change which involves the whole of society, the “Multimedia World” brings also huge negative consequences.
The ability to live the real world to the fullest, uninterruptedly, using all our senses, is losing ground, influenced by the obligation and the urge of sharing right away, of being popular, of keeping truck, memorizing and offering.

But it could be worse! 

The recent debate on the relation between the terrorism actions and insane violence and the offenders’ need to gain popularity on a global scale is more than appropriate. Looking for popularity is a viral phenomenon that involves all, including unstable minds and terrorists. The echo owed to the news and the pain felt after a tragic event is the arrival point of an insane project of multimedia exposure in search of a stage to exhibit. Looking for the multimedia popularity through pain represents, unfortunately, the true lowest common denominator of the dramatic events of recent months.

Back to us and our conclusions! “The Multimedia World” distracts us and often the real image reaches our gaze through a lens, through our smartphone’s video and not directly. At the same time we communicate more and more, via web, with more and more people preferring to share images and videos rather than texts; immediate material to get, exhaustive, of high-definition or resolution.

We are the video-makers of our lives.
We are more and more what we share.
We are more and more multimedia!



Otto Neurath and the visual education through the use of symbols

post_signs_neurathEven if it is considered a phenomenon of this century based on innovative, technological and relational elements, I am more and more convinced that internet possesses deeper roots. The big inventions often have been inspired by intuitions happened in the past, the thread that connects the new to the past is thin but strong and, often, full of ramifications.
Already some article ago, deepening a piece of writing by Charles Percy Snow, PDF available online and recommended by this blog, we have seen how the impulses pro and cons innovation are far from a recent phenomenon.
Wherever we find the presence of intellectual ferments, we may also find visionary ideas or traces of what it could have happened.
It is the case of Otto Neurath, one of the illustrious members of the Circle of Vienna: Neurath considered science as a tool whose aim was the didactics, the education of the masses and above all, the overcoming of the cultural barriers due to the use of language as well as to the growth of the educational value of the information.
Again, the web comes to aid me by proposing me in PDF one of the Neurath’s piece of writing: “International Picture language the first Rules of ISOTYPE”, dated 1936.
The premise illustrated in this text is very present, and that is to capture the attention of that part of population we call today internet explorers or cybernauts, with a minor cultural and selective ability by using a simple and intuitive language.
The basic idea is to transpose abstract concepts in representations, icons, symbols, signals, graphic, images, accessible to anyone.
In fact this type of images has already had a remarkable diffusion in the twentieth century, probably also thanks to Otto Neurath’s concepts. We know that the first part of the twentieth century has been dominated by totalitarianisms powered by icons and symbols, real iconographies completely absorbed by their belief, so much absorbed that today they still don’t permit a division between the symbol and the catastrophes produced by these totalitarian regimes.
Nowadays we have, before our very eyes, examples much more “light”, our cities are full of signings, billboards and, above all, road signs that we know and we interpret readily. Furthermore our fashion, our style is deeply influenced by brands.
But what Neurath intended was, according to my interpretation, something wider, not an action of diffusion nor an advertising one, but an action aimed for a better propagation of knowledge and that is to succeed in transmitting information to the most careless consumers, less receptive, less competent.
Neurath believed that a language based on symbols could develop an educational role, could capture the consumers’ attention and facilitate the learning. Despite the great frenzy due to the modern life, this is the way considered to reduce the present urban alienation of the big centers, considerations applicable a century ago and still valid today, a century later. Considerations that are also at the root of the phenomenon “social” participatory present now online.
Neurath is referring to the mathematical symbols universally understood regardless of country or language.
But Neurath went beyond his theory’s proposal, he invented a true international visual language: “ISOTYPE International System of Typographic Picture Education “, its pages being rich of visual and tangible examples. Examples so concrete and illuminating to make him become one of the precursors, one of the reference points of the modern infographic, or rather, the whole of techniques and strategies aimed to the information’s spread in graphic – visual form.
Quoting wikipedia: “… In 1936, Otto Neurath introduced a system of pictograms intended to be the international visual language. Isotype, (this is the name of the group of pictograms), includes a series of stylized human figures that will be the base for the modern icons of human figures in the line-engraving manner…. “.
The quotation I consider more meaningful and immediate is precisely the one of Otto Neurath: “ISOTYPE is a helping language.”
Returning to our times, I believe that the cyberspace could represent the ideal field to sow icons and symbols.
My own experience, statistics in hand, permits me to claim that using symbols on the internet, approaches the users, especially the pro-active ones and stimulates the curiosity and the participation.
The pictograms, or better, their progeny, represent only a small part of the symbols’ universe present on internet, their number being in continuous growth. So, Neurath’s language, in its various forms, beat every expectation.
The symbol is equivalent to the service and it inserts the action, that if replied, becomes a visual and at the click habit, a fast process, partly instinctive.
More and more factors determine the increasing process of the icons and symbols’ diffusion and these are: the use of internet on smart phones, where the visual space is considerably reduced as well as the increasing speed of use, especially by the new generations, due to a daily use of chats, social networks, video games, APP, anywhere and anytime,…, the biggest exposure ever, global, of the consumers in relation to network.
Furthermore, I consider, as always, basing my statement on statistic data collected by me, that the new web induces the new generations to approach differently the vision of the web’s page, no more sequential from left to right. The digital native’s eye instinctively looks for the familiar symbol/icon, the links and the images, before reading the correlated contents.
Going beyond numbers and dynamics of use, I wonder if this action designed to simplify the words, could indeed represent a way to spread the knowledge and reach didactic purposes.
This sort of rejoining the ancient languages, the Anatolian hieroglyphics, Maya or Egyptians, as well as the language of signs, will allow us to maintain the same intensity and complexity of contents or a greater diffusion will determine in the long run a simplification of our grammar and thought?
I personally appreciate any attempt aimed to create new assonances, new connections, new stimuli  to the innovative presentation of contents, services, meanings, even more if created for educational purposes(things that unfortunately don’t happen very often on web) and, of course, if characterized by a strong participation.
I began to write this article some days ago, after having read some Neurath’s pieces of writing. Normally, between the first draft copy and the final review of the article, I let a few days pass in order to better metabolize what I read and reflect on my impressions. During this period of time I happen to travel and, in a gas station, absentmindedly I went to the lady’s room, fortunately I was alone! You may say: it’s no big deal, these things happen! Well, while I was leaving the room a lady has kindly rebuked me by pointing her finger at the image on the door…
So once more… the power of symbols!