An aphorism too far ?

‘One picture is worth ten thousand words’, (via phrasefinder) Frederick R. Barnard in Printer’s Ink, 8 Dec 1921 retelling a Chinese proverb. Looked this up ‘cos I keep thinking Wolfram has missed the point of this one.

More seriously, this aphorism is easily mis-interpreted when extolling the power of GUI’s, or contemplating graphical means of communicating knowledge. Truth is, whilst the original quote was probably more concerned with marketing value in publishing, it is probably best thought of as referring to power of memory in recalling graphic images as spatial representations of complex situiations. In practice the picture may be a very ambiguous means, even a completely metaphorical means, of communicating in the first place, without a good deal of supporting explanation – thereafter, it’s easier to remember the picture to recall the story, rather than the words.

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