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Does a picture work better than volumes of text?

Feb 07, 2018

Does a picture work better than volumes of text?
Does a picture work better than volumes of text? | Credit: Octavian Rosca

In today’s fast moving world, reading volumes of text to understand a concept can often be laborious and time consuming. A picture that captures the entire information in a single instance would spare man a lot of his energy and it would also simplify the process of learning. This idiom “A Picture is worth a thousand words” was popularized by a newspaper editor called Tess Flanders in the year 1911. The term clearly elucidates the idea of replacing long paragraphs with an image that delivers the essence of the entire passage. It not only resulted in reduced number of pages but also increased the readability among the common masses.

Generally, interpretation of the language applied to describe complex topics in the fields of medicine, political science, geography etc. is difficult for a commoner. Innovative and thoughtful pictures can simplify the jargons and can make them appealing to both educated and uneducated people.

Bar charts and graphical figures do a splendid job in representing numerical figures. Aside from capturing information, they are also used to compute, compare and recall several kilobytes of alphanumeric information. With its varied benefits, imagery plays a vital role in enhancing human intelligence. It provides an easier approach in representing and computing.

Imagery in form of photography is one of the artistic mediums that brings out the static reality of time and ensures that the emotion resonates years from the date of capture.

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is worth a million words. A small story can elucidate the evolution of words to pictures and this way a video is exponentially more powerful than words. In earlier days, the repositories of philosophy like Mahabharata and Ramayana were read and propagated orally. They were subjected to changes and alterations as they were carried through generations. In a certain period of time, the scenes from the epics adorned the walls as fresco paintings which stood as such for years together. The scriptures were even produced as comics and they did a great job in making people easily understand the complex passages. They evolved a step further by getting reproduced as series and animations (video) which successfully delivered the difficult volumes in a very appealing manner.

Unfortunately, the depiction of thousands of words through pictures and videos suffers a small drawback. As the saying goes, “A book is always better than a movie”, a book leaves more to the imagination of the reader and allows the reader to enjoy the theory in his/her own pace.

At the end of the day, though verbal description helps a lot in invoking the creativity of the reader, it is the pictorial representation that is often preferred. With a lot of advantages, a picture is always better thousands of words.