business, consumer experience, general communication, social media, technologies

More than words

In a digital age seemingly obsessed with verbal jousting and punning wordplay, it’s worth remembering the impact of the visual.  Sometimes words aren’t all that important.

Here’s a slightly offbeat subject for this site but hell, it’s our place and we’ll say what we want.

This is a declaration of love for the photo-sharing site, Flickr, which is fast becoming my favourite social network.  It’s mostly because Flickr is easily the most global and shuns the implicit need for written perfection.  A bold claim, perhaps, and one at odds with the key business interest of Composed.

Images reflect you too

However, it’s one worth looking at.  It may sound like a ridiculously obvious thing to point out, but photos, images, pictures: they’re all visual entities which rarely need any grasp of language in order to be decoded.

Language is often a barrier for global networks, communication, and even diplomacy.  How many Chinese chums have you made on Twitter?  Equally, for all technological advances, western nations still don’t always enjoy the healthiest of high-level relationships with those who speak in a more distant tongue.  See Russia and China, to say nothing of Middle Eastern nations.

Irritatingly for professional communicators, different corners of the globe use different languages.

But with Flickr, language is refreshingly secondary.

Yes you can use language to garnish images on Flickr and this might help to describe, add a theme, concept or idea.  But first and foremost it’s about the single thing you see with your eyes, a thing which anyone anywhere is able to judge and quickly form an opinion about.

Do I like it?

Don’t I like?

Is it interesting?

Isn’t it interesting?

What is it trying to say?

Even if the answers to these questions can’t be verbally expressed, an involuntary process along these lines often occurs in milliseconds.

This isn’t to say that language is a total irrelevance to the Flickr experience.  There are increasingly impressive translation tools like Google Translate, which perform perfectly adequately in responding to different tongues, provided you keep it simple.

Flickr is responsible for the personal loss of hours trawling around places I never knew existed, and equally places I know well.  The groups feature is excellent for browsing these images – although the sheer volume of groups and the process of adding images can get a little overwhelming and labour-intensive.

Images are always likely to exist as a jumping off point from which ideas can be spawned, or as an item which can be appreciated in the simplest sense, in its own right, entirely devolved of subtlety or nuance.  A cute puppy is a cute puppy.  An image cannot discuss in detail or in depth.  It captures a mere moment.

Yet when those moments add up to a global network like Flickr, they become an astonishing amount more.

At a time swarming with out-of-the-box website templates and stale corporate boardroom images, the power of relevant, eye-catching images should be acknowledged.  Image selection deserves to be ranked highly alongside engaging copy, striking design and smooth user experience.

Composed on Flickr.

Mark Hawkins Photography


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