[LINK] IFIP Digital Library
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Tue Aug 19 18:14:19 EST 2008
>On 19/08/2008, at 10:32 AM, Stephen Wilson wrote:
>> And if so, was such research presented as text or something else? ;-)
At 12:51 +1000 19/8/08, Stilgherrian wrote:
>Well, I did say "might" be better. Still, "a picture is a thousand
>words", and I'm sure that in some circumstances a moving image might
>convey meaning quite well... humans being visual creatures n'all.
Just to be clear about this ... I don't mean to demean formats other
than text. They can be valuable for idea transmission and
infotainment as well as entertainment.
But (repeating Steve's point) disciplined argument and presentation
demand a medium that is sufficiently precise and sufficiently rich
(for the expressor) and sufficiently precise and sufficiently
attractive (for the observer).
Image and especially video seldom deliver, and even sound has
significant weaknesses. Or, maybe more to the point, they
*over*-deliver on the emotional content, and that undermines the
logical content. (Sorry, but I can never remember which side of the
brain is supposed to be which. I suppose that makes me
Like all natural languages, conventional english presents problems in
achieving precision (because of its richness, maybe even *more* than
some other languages. Latin anyone? Evan, where are you?).
So some disciplines use precise dialects of natural language, and
others use more precise languages as much as possible (e.g. maths in
all its forms has scores of 'em, and chemistry has multiples too).
As a test-case on images, consider diagrams. Many, even ones that
seem to 'readers' to be quite good, are very imprecisely defined, and
readers infer very different things from them. (My usual example is
diagrams comprising boxes and arrows. What do the arrows mean?
Relationships? Movement? And if so, of what?). So diagrams can be
'good' conveyors of something in the sense of the reader thinking
they understand, but not 'good' in the sense of conveying
consistently to multiple readers.
(The history of diagramming conventions in systems analysis and
design has been one of alternative tightening to achieve precision,
and loosening - because most human beings find such levels of
precision daunting and even suffocating).
Roger Clarke http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au http://www.xamax.com.au/
Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre Uni of NSW
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