The ability to communicate abstract ideas is often cited as one of the things that separates humans from animals. By being able to state clearly things that cannot be pointed to in the present for reference or even to describe things that have not ever existed and perhaps never will, humans advanced beyond their animal peers. While our superior ability to produce varied vocalizations was useful, part of our progress was helped through the use of visual communication mechanisms. These include methods that require sight to be used perhaps through reading though not necessarily. This essay looks into some of the basic forms that are used and their different areas of usefulness.
Even as small children we can use pictures to express ourselves. A very simple emoticon with a colon and a bracket can indicate our emotional state very clearly. Babies that have not yet acquired verbal language are often able to read such expressions accurately because this trait is useful to survival. With pictures we can express not only our emotions but our desires. Through the addition of written language, pictures also become the backbone of some of our stories.
When the information that must be transmitted is mathematical or numerical in nature, a graph can help considerably. By placing the information in such a visual medium, it can express very quickly the gist of what is being described. A pie chart for instance can use color and proportion to immediately indicate where the majority of funds were spent or which area of a budget appears to be neglected consistently year after year.
Often before a major construction project is started the people in charge will create a model of what the building will look like when complete. This not only shows people what to expect on completion, it gives an opportunity to visualize future problems and decide before major commitments are made whether any changes should be made. This saves time and money in the long-run. Models of skeletons can also convey information about the way the human body works faster than an oral explanation.
These are e specific type of picture that shows the user where things are located. By making reference to a map, someone who ha never been to a place can orient him or herself and find it with relative ease.
There are times when oral communication is the best choice. On other occasions visual methods a re clearly the better option.