27 November 2009

Visually Literate

While my current research focus is on design for health care, I can't shake the thoughts I'm having  about technology and literacy (which I suppose aren't completely unrelated). When I first started my design training, I was given an assignment to create a newspaper ad that would present a concept of the how the rate of HIV/AIDS in Africa would lead to increased deaths, which would have a direct affect on the next generation's acquisition of knowledge. I take note of this piece simply because the quote suggests that these statistics will arrive by 2010. That's coming up soon, right?

unicef ad

I also recall my participation in a science and technology conference in Rwanda (and how the research activities of the participants could impact the economy of the country). What was notable to me during this experience was how many of the researchers did not have a backed up copy of their work that could shared (because it had been typed once on a typewriter). In this case, how does their knowledge get passed on and/or developed further? If there are hidden innovations, how can we learn about them?


This article caught my attention this week because it speaks to how we value literacy in this media age. How this gets measured is a whole other conversation but I'm left wondering how media literacy applies to those who might still be waiting for the media to show up? I continue to hear about technological advances in the urban space but am getting more excited to see how this gets translated to those who dwell in a rural context. There are innovations waiting to abound but how do they get realized, shared or built upon?


What would it look like if we allowed people to create a visual business plan instead of a textual one? What if presenting an evaluation to a potential funder meant creating a video? Or a book of sketches? What if a farmer, looking for remedies to a low crop yield, received all his information visually?  On a mobile device?

If text hinders someone from moving forward economically or otherwise, are we limiting the innovators who have ideas but can't write them down?

These are lofty questions at this point. I'm not completely sure what to do with them, except get them on a page and consider how their adolescent qualities might mature. If you have thoughts or ideas to contribute to my ramblings, I'd love to hear them. Or better yet, see them.
Image source

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