Word. The value of words in digital media

The value of words in digital media


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Social Media, Self-presentation and speed - that leaves little space for big words. An excursion into the absurdities of digital communication.
“Just because something is legible, it does not mean that it says something." - this quote from designer David Carson appears to have been made for the status quo of communication in the age of social media, self-presentation and speed. Words are fast and easy to reproduce, thus becoming less and less important. While often the "Internet" as such and "Social Pressure" in specific are denounced, the villain is to be found elsewhere - not in software or hardware.

Corporate Bullshit Bingo

… and avoiding content

No longer just offline, but in all forms of online content you can think of, valuable business talk turns into an accumulation of phrases, null statements and non-binding answers. If the completion of a project is delayed, the calculation of the necessary time scope was too ambitious in the course of project planning. If therefore, you want your employees to really get to grips with their work, the "human resource capital must be used and proactive commitment has to be shown in order to create results at close of play".

Anglicisms and neologisms have the power to sound wonderfully competent if stringed together correctly while at the same time outlining the facts that are actually relevant - or to say nothing at all. Which leads to the question: what is the better alternative?

EULA and Terms of Use

… and ignoring the liability

Had a look at it? Sure. Read it? Well, yeah. Accept? Absolutely. Terms of Use and License Agreements are ticked off faster than one can say "I agree". It will work out all right, for sure. It is all the more surprising if a note comes in that demands you to transfer a certain amount to a specific account in order to cover the costs for the last year of use or if a (moving) picture of oneself shows up in the world wide web that was unintentionally released to be used in any way by anyone. It would not be the first time that Facebook or Instagram images bring a good income to a third party.

The fact that it is usually easier to agree to digital agreements than those in the offline world does not (in principle) change their binding nature. It does not matter, therefore, whether the EULA contents were checked off just unreflected or completely unread, or against better knowledge. The words increasingly seem to become an unavoidable collection of legally relevant paragraphs that user is generally not interested in. But he should be - after all, it is about his rights.

Like, Poke & Ping

… and the standardization of your own statement

Scroll. Like. Scroll. Haha. Like. Scroll. Boah. Like.
Being the classic example of superficial communication, Facebook's "Like" button has set the bar. The behavior of users in the train, subway or bus seems quite mindless on closer inspection, especially when several people are simultaneously liking pictures and postings side by side - just take a look! The entire timeline of the past few hours is roughly scanned, a like - or a love, or a wow - is given out every now and then; not necessarily the highlight of social interaction. But don't worry, the most important part is to sharpen your online profile with a clear commitment to postings that are sexy, geeky or enhancing our world.

In a first iteration, it looks like Facebook has eliminated the dilemma of the standardized response by providing new emojis - nevertheless, individuality is different.

Retweets & Shares

… and farewell to originality

Why reinvent the wheel of content, when others already address exactly what you just wanted to say. A retweet or share perfectly fulfills the purpose of communicating without self-effort (apart from selecting the content that shall be reproduced).

Unfortunately, there is still a sky-shining difference between retweets and self-initiative. Individual originality or uninspired puffery? Apart from the journalistically motivated dissemination of publicly relevant information, only the sharing of well-known personalities' content seems to make sense to a certain degree - since every posting cries out: "Look! I retweeted David Beckham! This makes us best friends, right?"

Fake Reviews

… and trusting strangers

Thumbs up for rating platforms because they embody the original purpose of the world wide web unlike anything else. In a democratic manner, everyone contributes their experiences with the restaurant, the show or the service provider to help other users making their decisions. However, the reality behind karl_87 and sweetyheart13 is different. What was considered a taboo in communication is now known as a service called "reputation management" - companies are paid to create fake user reviews that lead other users to believe in the experiences. It is becoming increasingly difficult to recognize such reviews, since entire characters are built around the fake user - from family situations to spelling errors and politcal-economic views.


… and believing in the power of images

The era of info posters finally shines a visually appealing and potentially viral light on the contents that concern the world. Statistics, diagrams, comparisons and checklists show how search engine optimization works or the perfect bread is baked. Sharing- and office-compatible.

Many of these posters are worth a second look, but - this time - not through rose-colored glasses. Although it is the nature of the matter to focus the aspect of design, but abandoning the entire information lets the wording "info poster" become an absurdity; although it does not interfere with the aesthetics and is hardly recognizable at first glance - except when you look at the categorical repetition of the same dummy text:

Source: Graphic Design Junction

Words are not always necessary. And much less if too many of them are used. But if they take their deserved place, it has - hopefully - a reason and should be rewarded with the appropriate respect. Be it with a personal statement about the retweet, a brief thought about the value of the info poster or simply by reading the conditions by which you license photos, content or your own soul.

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