Visualization of Communication in Some Mobile Phone Directory and Call Log Icons

Visualization of Communication in Some Mobile Phone Directory and Call Log Icons

Ibrahim Esan Olaosun (Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-456-7.ch410
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Abstract

In contemporary world, visual communication is fast growing in importance. In the internet, computer, digital media, Artificial Intelligent Programming Languages, etc, communication is dominated by visual resources. Most people, particularly in the third-world countries, face some difficulties in understanding this phenomenon of language. This study applies Eco-semiotic theory on the analysis of some mobile phone directory and call log icons. The study indicates that some of these visual codes do not constitute a new/esoteric language but that they are familiar resources appropriated and spray-painted to have novel semantic values. It therefore proposes that the reading and interpretation of mobile phone visual discourse can best be done through dependence on the general community and individuals’ knowledge of natural phenomena and material world from which these codes are generated. The study also indicates that the communication system is limited in its operation only at the primary level of signification and therefore proposes the exploration of both the primary and secondary level of signification so that audience, particularly those who can only read non linguistic signs would be adequately served by the emerging system of communication. On the whole, the study stresses the need for mobile phone technologists to orient their iconic designs towards meeting the needs of the illiterate audience by drawing iconic signs from their eco-semiotic environment.
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Background

The first idea of telephone was by the French inventor Charles Bourseul, who “suggested in 1854 that vibrations caused by speaking into a flexible disc or diaphragm might be used to connect and disconnect an electric circuit, thereby producing similar vibrations in a diaphragm at another location, where the original sound would be reproduced”. However, it was the American inventor, Alexander Graham Bell who produced, in 1875, the first telephone capable of transmitting and receiving human speech with its quality and timbre (Encarta, 2006). Since Bell’s invention, there have been several advances on the communication instrument. These advances vary in terms of sophistication, size, basic components, functionality (coverage), and utilitarian value.

The most ubiquitous of these advances is the cellular mobile telephone system, first tested in Japan in 1978. Since then, the invention has grown in importance in every part of the world. In Nigeria, for instance, people do many complex things with the instrument such as for communication, for recording events, for browsing the net and even, for scam. Discourse scholars in the country have researched into the language behavior of people in this important domain. For instance, Chiluwa (2007) carried out a study on the language style of SMS (short message service) text- messaging in the Nigerian Christian context. With the application of social discourse analytical theory on fifty-three text messages produced by some Christians in Lagos and Ota areas of Southwestern Nigeria, the study indicated that the language served in representing Christian values and sentiments for they are characterized by “faith-based pronouncement, prayer and well wishing, admonition and assurance, appreciation, praise and worship and season greeting”(p.5).

Similarly, Taiwo (2007) examines the implications of computer-mediated communication for the teaching and learning of English in Nigeria. The study explores the linguistic usage in one hundred each of SMS and e-mail texts, gathered from the e-mail circles, which the author belongs and finds generally that the producers of the texts typically write in the Nigerian English variety. He finds further that the language style is generally lose and is, constrained by the need to manage time and money spend on Internet services, characterized by short forms. On the implication of the Internet communication on teaching and learning of English in the country, the study indicates that “cyberspace and mobile communication now shape language use in formal classroom writing by Nigerian students” (p245).

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