Changing Standards and Viewpoints in the Interpretation of Image Filters, Effects, and Icons

A new digitally immersed generation is becoming a prominent majority in our society, and these people have different experiences and observations that influence how they perceive filters, effects, and icons.

An icon intended to represent a traditional telephone is an example of this phenomenon. Younger people will very likely have never used an older telephone with a corded handset and touch-tone buttons. Yet this is the basis for a telephone icon that’s been in use for a long time in our society. With the emergence of the smart phone as the dominant telephone used in our society, a smart phone would be a better basis for an icon intended to represent a phone. See the illustration below for a comparison.

20130626we-telephone-mobile-smart-phone-icons

As we think about digital literacy, and images as language we communicate with, it’s important to use filters, effects, and icons that are recognizable by those who see them.

A visual effect that’s commonly used in pictures and videos is the analog signal loss, or television screen effect. To those who recognize it, this brings about a nostalgia and recollection of when television screens had visual lines of resolution and analog signal loss produced a static on the screen. There’s a generation of people growing up who have never seen these effects in real-life. An example below from the video game Max Payne is intended to convey the impression of a society on the edge of collapse.

20130626we-max-payne-video-television-filter-effect

As we think about digital literacy, and images as language we communicate with, it’s important to use filters, effects, and icons that are recognizable by those who see them. Effects that are recognizable by an older generation as “retro” may not be recognized or understood by younger people.

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