The Growing Role of Visual Communications

It seems that unrest is growing in the world. Unemployment, immigration, terrorism, unrest, and riot police.

But the one common thread that I’m seeing is the rising use of the visual communications. In any riot scene, there are cameras and mobiles capturing the action. In fact, the mere fact that we are able to see the activity is proof that someone is recording the event.

The world is realizing the power of social medias to rally people to their cause. Whether called viral advertising, crowd sourcing, or simply a flash mob, the digital age allows us to spread a message quickly. A key factor in this – is a good visual image. Call it an “iconic symbol” or just a key image that captures the essence of what is happening. It captures the “pathos” of the moment. It tugs at our heart.

Someone makes a video, posts it on YouTube, and it could get a million hits. The beauty of this is that in a very short time, a lot of people will know your message – and see your images. Public reaction grows, news agencies report it, government leaders see it.

In today’s age, anyone with a camera phone can record just about anything. The power of the visual is extended to everyone. The potential problem is that anyone can post – whether the information is true or false. The visual may be a photo or a video. It may be done as a joke; or it may be done as propaganda. But once it begins to spreads, separating fact from fiction becomes more difficult.

Citizen journalists are citizens, armed with a camera or mobile phone, report on what is happening in their area. It may be a demonstration – and they are there recording the action. Their report may be a tweet – but it is still recording the event.

This is an exciting time to be in visual communications. Everyone needs a course in visual communications: how to understand its power and its potentials. But also, to be able to analyze it in a critical way. To be able to recognize if an agenda is being presented or is it a fair discussion of what is happening.

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