This is boiled down from the post below. Feedback welcome.
Touch screen communicative electronics demand a kind of attention which has never before been enacted by an object. Using haptic and visual interstimuli, these devices engage their users in physiological transactions which are markedly different from the interactions spurred by past tools of information storage and transfer. Past in this instance includes: stone and clay tablets, scrolls, codices, books (hand and machine made), messengers, signal fires, letters, telegrams, telephones, and laptop/desktop computers. Despite the seemingly new mode of interactivity between humans and their tools, there are striking similarities to the old ways, ways which embody the essence of what it is to be human.
This is not the first time that there has been a significant shift in the way that information moves and translates among its authors. The advent of writing, when humans began to organize thought visually and linearly as opposed to aurally and without concrete reference to time, changed not only the way information travelled, but it also set roots for visual systems both within and without informational content. Calligraphy was once the foundation for this structure, but efficiency drove the path to typography, valuing order above all else, and leaving in its wake a memory of the preserved human presence in liquid moments.
Those moments are not gone. The technology of information has come full circle back to drawing in the sand. In 1936, H.G. Wells predicted the existence of a “world brain.” We have it now. It rests in our palms with a slick surface as the entry point to an increasingly pressurized flow of knowledge. Marks made by hand-tool interaction are still the driver of information transfer, although the marks themselves are now spared from any visual language. The marks then become an indirect messenger of sorts, between human and tool rather than following a direct human to human path. This is a new pattern and it represents a powerful shift for us as gatherers of information.
If the written word is so influential in our thinking and seeing patterns, what might we be in for now that a flux of words and images flash through our eyes as they simultaneously slide deftly under our fingertips?
1. History of visual information. Showing the ways that written language shaped visual thinking.
A. Calligraphy. Showing the ceremonial and celebratory nature of information preservation through human marks. Also showing the precedent for hand-tool interaction.
B. Typography. Showing beauty in order, organization, and efficiency with reference to information.
2. Exponential growth of information and the need for editing. Showing the problems of the permanent record and how those problems are addressed by a selection process.
A. The nature of translations.
B. The nature of indexing.
3. Screens and Interaction. Showing a new paradigm of the way information authors and consumers relate to the tools which foster communicative processes. Also, posing questions about how this paradigm may shape visual and tactile thinking.
4. Conclusion. Isn’t finger painting great?