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Iconic Communication
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ISBN 9781841500164
pages

Published May 2000
Imprint: Intellect
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Edited by Masoud Yazdani and Philip Barker
Do pictures enhance the communicative power of text?

Our society is becoming a more visual culture day-by-day. This book offers detailed analyses of how to combine words with pictures to communicate clearly across cultural barriers.

While some information is better communicated by one kind of media than another, some information is communicated most effectively through a combination of media. This book presents a critical framework within which iconic communication systems can be developed to truly bridge linguistic and cultural gaps and to provide effective computer-based systems for conveying information on a global scale.

With valuable insights for the Information and Communication industries, this book draws on the work presented at several conferences on the subject and is designed primarily for graphic designers and human-computer interface developers as well as supplementary reading on degree courses in Information Technology. Contents

Preface

Part 1: Foundations

1. Human Communication Processes - Philip Barker
2. On the Possibility and Impossibility of a Universal Iconic Communication System - Andrew J. King
3. The Limits of Iconic Communication - John Roscoe

Part 2: Background

4. Some Pictorial Symbol Systems for Public Places - Ian McLaren
5. Double Vision - Michelle Gausman and Clive Chizlet
6. Communication through Icons - Masoud Yazdani

Part 3: Proposals

7. Do You See What I'm Saying? - Stuart Mealing
8. Iconic Text: An Exploration of the Limitations of Iconic Languages - Colin Beardon
9. Visualisation of Textual Structures - Graziella Tonfoni

Part 4: Development of Prototypes

10. The Augmentation of Textual Communication with User Icons - Leon Cruickshank and Lon Barfield
11. VIL &endash; A Visual Inter Lingua - Lee Becker and Paul Leemans

Part 5: Research Outcomes

12. Icons in the Mind - Philip Barker and Paul van Schaik
13. Designing and Evaluating Icons - Philip Barker and Paul van Schaik
14. Evaluating Appropriate Interface Metaphors - Paul Honeywill


Preface

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:

• 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?

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.

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:

• 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?

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.
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