Recently I have been hooked on two websites which are (un)related real-time updates of digital (mis)communication.
The first is a site created by Norse, an internet attack intelligence agancy (very Neuromancer but without the rastas in space). The site is a real-time visualisation of a small percentage (apparently <1%) of cyber attacks. It shows where the attacks originate, where is being targeted and the type of attack. It is pretty incredible. If you watch it for long enough you’ll see the map quieten down and then, boom, a massive coordinated attack will fire off. Usually against the USA.
The second site is a real-time visualisation of every emoji being used on twitter. I find it mesmerising. It follows on from an article I read in The Observer last weekend which was interested in the popularity of Emoji and how it has become a ubiquitous virtual language, with pictograms replacing words and combinations of these symbols replacing whole sentences but adding a multitude of increased interpretations. As the author of the article writes at the end of the article, “Barthes would have had a field day.”
Both of the sites are socially interesting and although at first glance I think it seems that the Norse one is the more ‘important’ of the two, I am fascinated by the Emoji one and by the questions it raises about how we communicate digitally, why are we always more drawn towards using pictures (pun intended), what does this mean for words and writing, is the majority of written language superfluous to communicative needs, can we call emoji a recognised language in its own right, and how would a shift towards a pictorial-based language system affect things like journalism, poetry, books etc, and physical interaction? Its a highly unlikely thing to happen but it is interesting to think about.