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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Iconism Gone Mad

As I noted some time ago, symbolic communication is an advance over iconic communication, so icons showing up in many daily devices does not necessarialy represent a unalloyed good. Today I encountered a paradigmatic case. A light in my car came on. The meaning of the light is "explained" by a little icon that looks like the stereotypical lightbulb one finds signifying a "bright idea." SO, did my car just have a bright idea? Does the icon of a lightbulb signify that a warning light just came on?

Sure, in the days when they would put English words on these lihgts, perhaps only 25% of the people in the world could read them. That's certainly better than the .01% I suspect can comprehend the lightbulb.

5 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:16 PM

    Probably 99.9% understand that a light is out somewhere on the car. I'm certain that fewer than 0.1 percent believe the car just had an idea.

    Detroit based nepotism is probably to blame for the design, and nepotism is not just a capitalist thing. It's only human!

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