Innovations in Visual Language

Sutton Glyphs

Linear and Nonlinear Bliss
Military Chat?
Some Military Glyphs
Air Traffic Control Glyphs
Bunker and Targeting Glyphs
Where no Pen has gone, Before
Hybrid Visual Language System
Proposed Bliss Software


The Visual Age

We are in the visual language age according to Alan Stillman of Speaking at VaIL 2007, Mr. Stillman explained that human communication evolves through three phases, or ages:
1. The Spoken Age, from mouth to ear (speaking-hearing).
2. The Written Age, from hand to eye (writing-reading).
3. The Visual Age, from brain to computer screen to eye.
                                        from hand to screen to eye.

The visual age is here alright, but it will be driven by the usual inputs from our hands and mouths. Simplify for a moment. All information transmits out of either our mouths as speech, or out of our hands as sign language, texting, or drawing. When we wish to stop transmitting, we put our hands on our mouths, tying up both of the exits of information. Even morse code is sent by hand. And even Tom Cruise in Minority Report moves vast amounts of information around on a virtual screen by wearing data gloves on his hands.

And just as there are two parts of us that transmit, there are two parts that receive, eye and ear. This is not likely to change, ever. While mechanical, even nanotech sensors may send telemetry and data directly to computer hard drives, there would be little benefit in trying to send it directly to the human hard drive, the brain. The pathways nature gave us for receiving information actually transform it for us, making it useful. They don't just pipe it in.


We are not likely to do better than nature in this regard until we actually create androids like Data on Star Trek. Way, way off in the future. So we can spend billions of dollars in researching new ways to represent knowledge, and much may be gained, but in the end it all comes down to drawing shapes and colors in a little square to make an icon. And the issues won't change one iota: Which shapes and which colors?

Blissymbolics has led me to an axiom which has yet to fail:
There are no difficult concepts, only difficult explanations of simple concepts.
Language is metaphorical by nature. The behaviors of billiard balls inform us about atoms, until we find a better metaphor for atoms or can actually see them. Even then, the same kinds of things happen at that level as happen at the macroscopic level. The flows of streams and rivers inform us about the flows in capillaries until we are able to actually see capillaries in a microscope. Even then, a flow is a flow, whether microscopic or macroscopic:

So if we desire to have a universal cross-domain visual language system, a flow should be represented by the same elemental glyphs whether it is a flow of water, blood, electricity, neutrinos or anything else which may behave like a flowing fluid. The environment around the basic glyphs will change. The arrows may curve or point in changing directions. But the same elemental idea (a flow) will always be recognizable across all domains (disciplines of knowledge or work) and languages, and from the smallest microscopic domains to the largest macroscopic ones.

  The concept of containers passing through a pipe could be blood cells carrying hemoglobin through a capillary or trucks carrying freight through a tunnel. Modifiers can be added to distinguish between a cell and a truck, or context may sometimes be sufficient to distinguish different applications of the same concept.