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Images or words?

© February 2008 Anthony Lawrence

I probably should have some photo or image here - all the best blogging advice sites will tell you that pictures are important: people like pictures, people remember pictures, pictures add to content.

I believe it. Almost everyone I know likes pictures.

But I don't. Well, no, that's not right, but I don't notice pictures and I don't remember them. Put a picture at the top of your blog post and my eyes will skip by it in a hundredth of a second.. I don't really see it, I'm hell-bent for the words and have absolutely no interest in the picture.

Take a look at Skelliewag.org. I'm told by people who probably know that those pictures in the right hand side bar work far better than text links. I'm sure they do, but I never noticed them at all until someone pointed them out to me as examples of the power of images.

I just don't react to images.

I think there are good reasons for that. One is that I am extremely myopic and wasn't diagnosed as needing corrective lenses until I was in school a few years. When you can't see the world around you, you don't develop certain visual skills; for example, I seem to have a much harder time recognizing faces than most people. My wife will say "Oh, look, there's so and so - we met her last month".. and that's from fifty feet away. I could stand face to face with the same person and while I'd have some vague feeling that the face might be familiar, I wouldn't be sure. My brain just didn't learn how to do that.

But there's more to it. I've suggested before that people who like Unix like words. Of course most people who like words still like pictures, but I think if your natural mind set is for processing words rather than images, if you are more comfortable with words than graphics, you'll probably like command line tools more than you'll like point and click. I think there's also the "engineer" mentality: the engineer likes to control their environment, not just interact with it. You interact with a GUI interface, you control with commands. Notice the words "interface" and "command"..

Anyway, now and then I have toyed with putting gratuitous pictures into posts. It's hard for me to remember to do that because the pictures seem pointless to me: a picture of the Mona Lisa at the top of this post might well drive home the thought of images and their power to someone who relates to images, but for me it just takes up space that could be better used for words..

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Tue Feb 26 11:20:53 2008: 3708   ScottCarpenter

"it just takes up space that could be better used for words"

What, has your editor only given you so many column-inches? ;-)

I like including images with my posts. The drawback is it adds that much time to composing a post, but now that I've been doing it for so long, things look kind of barren without one, so I keep adding them.

But at the same time, it doesn't make a huge difference when reading other people's stuff. I like seeing images, but as you say, the words are what you're there for. (In most cases. I do subscribe to a few flickr feeds though.) If you added pictures to your posts, it would be an another dimension to consume, but it doesn't stand out as something missing.

Tue Feb 26 11:40:54 2008: 3709   TonyLawrence

"What, has your editor only given you so many column-inches?"


No, I guess not. And I know I should probably make the extra effort as you do..


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