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BFTP: When a picture is all you need

I spent a few minutes yesterday morning with grandson Miles successfully practicing our bicycle riding - learning to balance sans pedals. Rather than writing a description of the happy event, I took a short video with my phone and e-mailed it to his mom and dad. 

The incident made me think about this post making the rounds: Disruptions: Social Media Images Form a New Language Online. Nick Bilton. NYT's Bits June 30, 2013. The main argument of the piece is:

Photos, once slices of a moment in the past — sunsets, meetings with friends, the family vacation — are fast becoming an entirely new type of dialogue. The cutting-edge crowd is learning that communicating with a simple image, be it a picture of what’s for dinner or a street sign that slyly indicates to a friend, “Hey, I’m waiting for you,” is easier than bothering with words, even in a world of hyper-abbreviated Twitter posts and texts.

Another herald of the coming post-literate world? Another nail in my generation of educator's literacy coffin

I don't know. As the example above suggests, turning to the visual - especially when it is convenient, simple, and fast - seems like the natural way to communicate. On reflection, I find myself using my phone's camera rather than a pen a lot! 

  • I snap a picture of hotel room number or parking garage space instead of writing them down when traveling.
  • I take pictures of content heavy PPT slides during conference sessions.
  • I Facetime with the grandsons rather relying on e-mails or even texts.
  • I increasingly use graphics, diagrams and photos to convey messages when giving a presentation. (I am re-reading PresentationZen.
  • I turn to YouTube instead of Google when looking for "how-to" instructions.
  • I see teachers creating video tutorials for at home viewing, "flipping" their classrooms.

So, OK, I'd still prefer a novel to a graphic novel. I'd rather reflect using writing than video. And I still make a grocery list. So I haven't gone completely visual - yet.

But even given an unlimited word count, I am not sure that one could describe the joy of learning to ride bike in text as effectively as showing it in a 30 second clip.

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