1 (888) 505-5689
Last week we were reading about an app called MySmartEye that crowd sources photos to help the visually impaired. Volunteers receive pictures on their phones and are asked to describe what they see. Blind users can listen to multiple people describe the photo, one person might talk about a tree, another might notice a raccoon sleeping below the tree. It’s all about perception.
We wanted to put this idea to the test. I gave some photos to four of my friends and asked them to describe what they saw. Each person gave drastically different answers, which highlights lessons in differences of perception.
Is it a love bug or a ladybug? Only one person even bothered to point out that there is a sidewalk in the picture. From this photo alone we can learn that descriptions often lead to misinformation or omission of possibly relevant details.
Let’s move on to the second photograph.
This picture caused our subjects to speculate on the purpose of the content instead of just describing it. Maybe the candy will be sold, maybe the candy is just as delicious as store candy. Rather than describing what is actually in the photo, viewer bias positions the wheelbarrow — or wagon — in a positive or negative light.
Now our subjects are starting to get the hang of it. They make assumptions in this photo (Is it Chicago’s skyline? Is it the ocean?) but they back up their assumptions with descriptions.
Still, some people notice the city immediately and others describe the beach first.
Each sentence in this series gets more descriptive about the image. What one person might think is helpful pales in comparison to the next sentence. Even if you think you’re using imagery in your writing, you’re probably leaving out crucial details that the audience needs to paint a perfect picture.
These examples show how easy it is to skip details, make false assumptions and add bias to your writing. You might think you’re using beautiful imagery, but you could be painting a completely different picture for your audience. And perception is everything.