520.3 Web-based visual communication for social criticism: Powerful design

Friday, August 3, 2012: 11:09 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Germán Mauricio MEJÍA RAMÍREZ , Visual Design, University of Caldas, Manizales, Colombia
Bernadette LONGO , Writing Studies, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
The Internet is a social place that allows multiple forms of communication and interaction. Social media has extended the capacity of low-investment campaigns, which has been more effective when non-corporate, political, pro-social aims are in play. High quality visual communication (VC) has emerged with potential persuasive power, in part because it wisely uses rhetorical appeals. It depicts and criticizes social issues trying to persuade their audiences to act according to desired social behaviors. This paper analyzes the influence of this web-based visually rich communication objects in the awareness of complex global issues and the attitudes and behaviors of people in society.

Four VC pieces are analyzed in this paper: the Story of Stuff video series, the Though Bubble video series, some of the RSA Animate online lectures; and Everything is a Remix video series. These VC pieces show that a combination of new media strategy with design qualities such as the rhetorical appeals creates ability to reach broad audiences. Even though they seem to boost the social impact of information, evidence of actual attitudes and social behavior change is unclear. Even if the VC transforms attitudes, a “value-action gap” (Blake, 1999) may remain large, which result in a low actual impact. This paper uses three analyses to identify the level of influence of this VC in social intentions, attitudes, and behavior change. First, a rhetorical analysis focuses on understanding rational, emotional and character appeals. Second, a secondary source search of news and online popularity reports level of diffusion. Third, experts are interviewed including producers and designers of the VC pieces and communication researchers.

Blake, J. (1999). Overcoming the ‘value‐action gap’ in environmental policy: Tensions between national policy and local experience. Local Environment, 4 (3), 257-278.