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The Decline of the Visual Sense

  • The visual sense has been essential to communication for centuries (e.g. via pictures and writing)
  • We will soon have machines taking photos for other machines to store, study and identify
  • Nor do we need to read and write anymore: we have tools that can read for us and we can just speak to machines
  • The visual sense could be the first sense to become a purely aesthetic sense, useful only to appreciate beauty, unnecessary for practical purposes
  • At the same time the visual sense has been stretched by an appreciation that most of the universe is invisible anyway: some of it is too far for its light to reach us, some of it is too small for a microscope to enhance it, and some of it simply does not emit light.
  • At the same time the visual sense has been hijacked to interact with machines via "user interfaces". The user interface has created new dimensions of understanding, that have no parallel in traditional life.
  • The audio experience has changed over the years (bells of church to phone ringtone; sounds of farm to sounds of factory; sounds of pedestrians, horses, sheep, etc to cars and sound of traffic) but much of the change in how we experience the visual sense has to do with accessing information. In fact, the part of the audio experience that has to do with transmitting information has not changed (speaking and listening).
  • Change in the audio experience was just an adaptation to a change in the environment. Change in the visual experience has to do with interacting with the dataverse, creating and understanding metaphors of movement that relate to data movement instead of physical movement.
  • The visual sense is increasingly less about seeing and more about symbiosis with the data.
Proof-edited by Alexander Altaras