Tuesday, April 1, 2008

picture > words

The portion of Ernst’s article where he touches on digital images as a way of archiving information (p. 116) reminded me of Juanita’s inspiration for accurate facial rendering in the Metaverse. When he asks “What kind of knowledge will exist exclusively in the form of images?” I thought of how much more images stick in my memory, whether real or imagined, then text or spoken words, and how I would much rather look at pictures to understand a story or idea then read about it. In Snow Crash, Juanita tells a story about her grandmother figuring out she was pregnant just by reading Juanita’s facial expressions- her ability to “condense fact from the vapor of nuance” (p.60). Could the same subtle modes of expression be used to archive as (or more) effectively as documents and words do? When events of great emotional intensity are recorded, whether catastrophic disasters or joyous celebrations, I think the images will be far more valuable and successful at conveying the true nature of the experience then words ever will.

On a side note, just read Alice’s post and I agree about the contradiction in Shilton and Srinivasan’s desire to make marginalized communities histories widely known and searchable. I definitely agree that everyone should be able to document their past and relevant culture, but if archivists were to truly show their marginalized position in history, then they wouldn’t really be well documented. Of course this is the case regardless, since there is no way to reach everyone and we’ve already lost more than we could ever know about underrepresented peoples, or the conquered who do not get to write the history textbooks.

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