Preface to the bookPhilip Barker
Andrew J King
Paul van Schaik
Communication is one of the most important activities in which people become involved. It may involve gestures, touching, talking and listening, writing and, of course, drawing. The advent of various types of technological support (such as telephones, cameras, computers and so on) has changed the basic ways in which we perform these activities. These developments have also made possible new approaches to communication. For example, using a computer system it is possible to send messages anywhere in the world virtually instantaneously. As well as being of a textual nature, these messages could also embed visual images of various sorts and sound effects. Modern forms of human communication through the medium of computers are rapidly taking on a `multimedia' nature.
Bearing in mind the above developments we need to be aware that some information is communicated better by one medium, than another, as each medium has both constraining and enabling features, while other information is communicated better by a combination of media. This situation demands that we ask a number questions. For example:
As our society is becoming a more visual culture day by day we need to address the above issues. This book offers a critical framework within which ‘iconic communication' systems could be developed to bridge linguistic and cultural gaps and to provide effective computer-based systems for conveying information on a global scale.
- Do pictures really enhance the communicative power of text?
- Is it possible to design purely visual languages?
- What would be the basic building blocks of a visual language?
- If a multimedia approach is used, what combination is best?
- How should we select and apportion content to different media?
- How do we coordinate media to ensure that given communicative goals are achieved by any resulting artifact?
- How do we combine words with pictures to communicate across cultural barriers?
Iconic communication offers possible solutions to some of the questions that were posed above. For many people, 'icons' are a familiar form of communication both in computer and in non-computer contexts. Despite their familiarity and popularity as communicative aids, there are a number of fundamental issues that we need to think about. For example:
Contributors to this book, with insights from the Information. and Communication Technologies, deal with these issues. Their audience is primarily graphic designers and human-computer interface developers.
- How do we design a really good icon or icon set?
- How can icons be combined in ways that create more meaningful messages?
- What happens when a user is exposed to an icon (or set) within a graphical user interface?
1st edition 2000, Pb, 204pp, many illustrations, 17.5 23 cm