#34 in a series of background briefs

A “universal language”

Why photography is now humankind’s most “universal language”

No other form of expression can do all of these things that photography can do:

1. The typical message contains a wealth of detailed information (keep #1 in mind when reading the next few points listed below)

2. The typical message can be quickly created by almost anyone, of almost any age, requiring at most a few moments of training

3. The typical message can be created with a tool that billions of people already are carrying with them

4. The typical message can be fully recorded in a fraction of a second

5. The typical message is both ready to view and ready to send to any number other people only a second or two after it is recorded

6. The typical message can be fully viewed in a fraction of a second

7. The typical message can be instantly comprehended by almost any sighted person of any age, with no need to “know how to read”

8. The typical message does not face any “language barrier,” so no “translation” is needed

9. The typical message can be transmitted around the world BY any of billions of people TO any of billions of people (who will usually receive it only seconds after it is sent)

10. The typical message can be digested at whatever pace the viewer wants (pace is not suggested by the creator)

11. The typical message can easily be viewed in any light and from any angle (thanks to its print-or-electronic options)

12. The typical message can easily be converted to a format that does not require a device to view it

13. The typical message can easily be converted to a format that does not require electricity or batteries to view it

14. The typical message can easily be converted to a format that can be hermetically sealed in a box and when opened a century or two later will be instantly viewable

 

As noted in #202, a key to photography’s advantage over other forms of electronically recorded imaging is photographs’ ability to easily be duplicated in both printed and electronic formats.

For millions of people in every corner of the world, printed photographs — not requiring any particular “technology” to be viewed, apart from human vision — are among their most-cherished possessions.

And the value of photographs isn’t limited to private use: in every urban area in the world — no matter how impoverished — photographs are in public places, on everything from product packaging to billboards to signs on the sides of buses.