Τhis is one of my favourite Instagram accounts @symmetrybreakfast ; a very powerful and popular account indeed. Trying to make sense out of billion images online, I often wonder what makes one picture better than the other: “An understanding of light is what separates a great photographer from a mediocre one” says Richard Koci Hernandez, assistant professor of new media at UC Berkeley’s journalism school in San Francisco. “Humans are conditioned to see strong shapes and patterns, and it’s light, combined with capturing that human moment, that can stop people in their tracks .” (Guardian, 2015).
In an information over-loaded world, images are much easier to navigate and technology has majorly helped to create a more visual web. The human brain takes about 150 milliseconds to recognise a symbol and another 100 millisecond to know what it means (Semetko&Scammell, 2012). Humans are built to absorb visual data easier than text and this becomes more and more prominent in a social media world that constantly feeds users with massive volumes of data. ”Photos are the atomic unit of social platforms” said tech-guru Om Malik, in a very insightful blog post back in 2014. Take Instagram for example: With 300m monthly users (Financial Times, 2014) and more than 75m active users (meaning, photos and videos) per day (Sprout Social, 2015) it has placed itself in a critical peak of social communication, where the world ‘is represented at a much higher definition’ (Pulsar, 2015). Experimentation on virtual reality as well enhances the power of visual and gives more room in gathering valuable insights on online human behaviour and in evolving visual technologies.
Although big data explosion has already been in its rise, there is still plenty of room to make sense out of data chaos, if we know where to look. Distinguishing between images and text can be a new exciting path for more understanding, communicating and educating. Taking a deep dive into visual social media is more than a mere descriptive and photo-sharing procedure. A new era of visual dominance is on its way.