Monday, December 1, 2014

Garbage in, garbage out

Science has proven what we already know. Listening to someone talking on a cell phone is annoying.

Research has shown that subjects listening to a cell phone conversation had a hard time performing a task requiring concentration. They did not have as much difficulty when listening to a two-way conversation.They also did not have a problem when listening to speech that was completely incomprehensible.

On another annoying note, people are more inclined to perceive a cell phone conversation as louder than a regular conversation between two people.

Scientists estimate we are subject to receiving one billion stimuli every second in our brains. We manage to filter out most extraneous and unnecessary information. We can tune out what we deem unimportant and routine, and we can choose to listen to a conversation or not. But it seems to be difficult to tune out information that doesn’t make sense. It’s as if the brain gets caught in a loop of attention. Our brains are wired to make sense of the world – to recognize patterns and organize information. It is difficult to process incomplete information.

According to Max Liberman, a linguist from the University of Pennsylvania, “… when you're getting lower-quality information coming in, you're having to work harder to understand and reconstruct it."

So what does this have to do with art? Pattern and organization. We need to organize visual information.  But organization doesn’t begin and end with the placement of objects.  Common sense tells us to arrange and edit before we start painting; but organization is also dependent on value patterns, shapes, and the use of color. It is up to us to find the pattern.

In the context of information technology "garbage in, garbage out" means the output quality of a system usually can't be any better than the quality of inputs.

In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell exhibited the first telephone at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.  Just four years later Mark Twain wrote the following:
“Consider that a conversation by telephone — when you are simply sitting by and not taking any part in that conversation — is one of the solemnest curiosities of this modern life. Yesterday I was writing a deep article on a sublime philosophical subject while such a conversation was going on in the room. . . . You hear questions asked; you don't hear the answer. You hear invitations given; you hear no thanks in return. You have listening pauses of dead silence, followed by apparently irrelevant and unjustifiable exclamations of glad surprise or sorrow or dismay. You can't make head or tail of the talk, because you never hear anything that the person at the other end of the wire says.”