Aug 14, 2013

Let's Get Visual: Visual Communication with Smartphones, Getty's Open Content, Art Everywhere and Visual Perception Research

Let's Get Visual....

It difficult to imagine a world without Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, Pinterest or Facebook photo-sharing.  According to a press release from ABI Research in 2012, over one billion cameras were shipped in smartphones and tablets.  Never before has it been this easy to shoot and share pictures and video clips in-the-moment.   Why talk on the phone for twenty minutes with one person when you can share a (visual) moment with your entire extended family and network of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances with just one touch?

We are communicating in ways that were not possible a decade ago.

Qmee, a online search rewards company, put together an infographic to show what transpires on-line in just 60 seconds. 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. 20 million photos are viewed on flickr. 104,000 photos are shared on snapchat, and 3,600 photos are uploaded every second to Instagram.

Infographic of what transpires on the Internet in just 60 seconds.
Credit: Qmee

According to a 2012 study published by the Pew Internet & American Life project, 46% of adult Internet users took pictures or videos and posted them on line. 41% reported that they found photos or videos online, and then re-posted them to share with others.  If you have a Facebook account, you know that there are people who delight in taking digital content sharing to the next level. Websites such as the Programmable Web's Mashup Dashboard and Know Your Meme are examples of this trend. 

Getty Museum's Open Content Program

The Getty Museum recently launched the Open Content Program with a release of about 4,600 high-resolution images of all public domain artworks in the museum's collection, free for anyone to use, modify, or publish.  The Getty plans to release more images in the future. The images can be accessed via the Getty Search Gateway

Here is the motivation behind the release of Getty's digital content:

"Why open content?  Why now?  The Getty was founded on the conviction that understanding art makes the world a better place, and sharing our digital resources is the natural extension of that belief.  This move is also an educational imperative.  Artists, students, teachers, writers, and countless others rely on artwork images to learn, tell stories, exchange ideas, and feed their own creativity.  In its discussion of open content, the most recent Horizon Report, Museum Edition stated "it is now the mark-and social responsibility-of world class institutions to develop and share fee cultural and educational resources."" 

It will be interesting to see how this trend unfolds.  We are now past the clip-art era.

Art Everywhere

"Its all about flooding our streets with art this summer, and turning the UK into the world's largest art gallery" -Richard Reed

Art Everywhere was launched in the UK on August 12th and ends on August 25th of this year (2013).  The art is on display in public spaces on thousands of billboards and digital screens across the UK,  as well as on buses and cabs.  The art was chosen by the public, and the project was funded by the project's sponsors and donations.  

Photos of the artwork chosen for the Art Everywhere exhibition, along with related information about each selection, can be viewed on the Art Everywhere website. Richard Reed, who spearheaded Art Everywhere, provides an overview in the video below:

All of the Art Everywhere posters can come to life with when viewed through a smartphone. Using the free Blippar app, the viewer can scan the poster with the smartphone's camera to access more information about the artwork.  Viewers are encouraged to enter the Art Everywhere photo competition by taking pictures of the outdoor exhibition to win a camera, daily prizes.

Art Everywhere's partners include the Reed Page Foundation, the ArtFund, Tate, Posterscope, Vizeum, 101/   EasyArt, Blippar, Arts Media People, Clear Channel, CBS Outdoor, JCDecaux, Ocean, and Primesight

Neuroscience Research: Visual Perception Process

"The brain is plastic for life" .-Michael Merzenich*

There have been concerns that the internet and new technologies might have a significant impact, good or bad, on the human brain and child development, as discussed by a panel held at the University of Colorado Annual Conference on World Affairs.  

The good news is that neuroscientists have new technologies to explore how the brain works. We have evidence to support that our brains have more plasticity as we age than previously thought. Since the technology use in brain research is so new, it might be a while before we will know what exactly happens when our brains are "on the internet".

Theories of how the brain functions are changing as new discoveries are made. One example of this is the work of Dr. Randy Bruno, a neuroscientist at Columbia University's Kalvi Institute for Brain Science.  He has discovered that in rats, signals about sensory information are processed simultaneously in two parts of the cortex, as separate circuits.  The upper layers of the cortex might be integrating sensation with context or experience, as described in the following video:

Dr. Bruno's research aims to understand how experience causes structural changes in the brain. His research shows that neuronal connections between the thalamus and the cortex are very plastic and responsive. Although he studies brain functioning in rats, the cortical systems are similar to other mammals, including humans.

"The key is to be actively engaged in a task and that there be meaningful elaboration on the information taken in at higher levels in order to maintain associations between different pieces of information. Such active engagement, as opposed to passive acquisition of what we experience with our senses, may enhance changes in the brain." - Randy Bruno*

From what I can see, it might be good for us to accessing the web via smartphones to engage in social visual communication activities.  If we are excited by a visually-based experience, and share it with others, or if we take in visual information and use it to create a mashup, and send it out for others to enjoy, our brains are actively engaged. If the neuroscientists are right, we aren't really wasting our time online.  

We are growing dendrites!


The Fantastic Plastic Brain*
The Kavli Foundation, 7/12

Study Advances New Theory of How the Brain Is Wired
Claudia Wallace, Columbia University Research, 6/27/13

The Internet and the Human Brain Panel (Video-1 hour, 14 minutes)
University of Colorado Annual Conference on World Affairs

Instagram at the Museum: Communicating the Museum Experience through Social Photo Sharing Alexandra Weilenmann, Thomas Hillman, Beata Junselius, CHI 2013, ACM

Open Content, An Idea Whose Time Has Come
James Cuno, The Getty Iris, 8/12/13

Getty Search Gateway

Horizon Report 2012 Museum Edition

Blippar Brings World's Largest Art Exhibition 'Art Everywhere' to Life
Blippar News Release, 8/8/13

Art Everywhere turns UK's streets into world's largest art show
Caroline Davies, The Guardian, 8/8/13

The Rise of Visual Socialization
The Halo Group Effect, 2013

The Unstoppable Trend of Visual Communications
David Amerland, HP InputOutput, 2/11/12

The Rise of Visual Social Media
Ekaterina Walter, Fast Company, 8/28/12

Research Modules: Next Generation Mobile Devices, ABI Research

Mashup Dashboard, Programmable Web

Know Your Meme

Prancercise video memes 

This Brain Discovery May Overturn a Century-Old Theory
Ben Thomas, Scientific American Blog, 8/8/13

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