Snap Makes a Bet on the Cultural Supremacy of the Camera

From The New York Times:

If you’re watching Snap’s stock ticker, stop. The company that makes Snapchat, the popular photo-messaging app, has been having a volatile few days after its rocket-fueled initial public offering last week.

But Snap’s success or failure isn’t going to be determined this week or even this year. This is a company that’s betting on a long-term trend: the rise and eventual global dominance of visual culture.

Snap calls itself a camera company. That’s a bit cute, considering that it only just released an actual camera, the Spectacles sunglasses, late last year. Snap will probably build other kinds of cameras, including potentially a drone.

But it’s best to take Snap’s camera company claim seriously, not literally. Snap does not necessarily mean that its primary business will be selling a bunch of camera hardware. It’s not going to turn into Nikon, Polaroid or GoPro. Instead it’s hit on something deeper and more important. Through both its hardware and software, Snap wants to enable the cultural supremacy of the camera, to make it at least as important to our daily lives as the keyboard.

. . . .

Since even before the invention of the printing press, text has been the central way that humans communicate over long distances and across time. Computers only entrenched the primacy of text. The rise of desktop publishing in the 1980s turned all of us into composers of beautiful, printed documents.

. . . .

The growing importance of cameras — of images rather than just text — is altering much about culture. It’s transforming many people’s personal relationships. It’s changing the kind of art and entertainment we produce.

. . . .

Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist who is writing a book about how the internet is changing language, said Snapchat lenses and filters were a form of what linguists call “phatic communication,” which is communication that is meant to ease social interactions instead of to convey information. (For example, saying “hello” and “you’re welcome.”)

“That’s the purpose of the face filters or the geofilters in Snapchat — they provide a fun way to communicate these same kinds of phatic messages with pictures,” Ms. McCulloch said.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

And for those who, like PG, didn’t know what phatic communication is, here’s a link.

4 thoughts on “Snap Makes a Bet on the Cultural Supremacy of the Camera”

  1. while a picture can be worth a thousand words, a video of someone speaking is about the least efficient form of communications possible.

    • man David, do I agree with you. Just finished a course that was incessant video afer video with No transcript, a painful waste of time. Fastest deliveryof info is not speech, not video. For me it is print. I loathe the idea that video is ‘it’. It isnt

Comments are closed.