Arthur C. Clarke, the British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, once famously declared that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Fast forward a few years and think about the sheer power and magic of the visual web, where images allow us to communicate in ways we never would have deemed possible even 20 years ago. From the beautiful to the curious, to all things vintage and to food, food and more food, the world has never been more accessible to us, even if it is at virtual arm’s length.
This may explain the rise of highly visual social platforms that take the immediacy and simplicity of Twitter to new heights. Instagram, Pinterest, Socialcam, Toronto’s own Piccsy, and of course the hugely successful Tumblr, combine great visual style to drive engagement and provide a social media environment that keeps people coming back.
Of course, long before cute baby pictures would take over Facebook, or before the infiniteness of Flickr, YouTube and user-generated videos proved just how far we would take the “broadcast yourself” challenge. Who can argue with 120,000,000 videos uploaded since launching just seven years ago, or the fact that YouTube is the third most popular site in the world, or that it’s available in 54 languages?
For more than a century, Kodak reminded us that a picture is worth a thousand words. As it turns out, the social web has taken that adage to heart. Some interesting facts about our obsession with all things visual on the web:
- More than 250 million pictures are shared daily on Facebook
- On average, pinning or posting a picture generates more buzz than tweeting or updating your status
- Pinterest generates more referral traffic than Google Plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined
- Earlier this year, Facebook purchased Instagram, the image-based networking platform, for $1 billion, in what was reported to be the fastest and biggest payout on record for a start-up
- Intuitive and visual products like the iPhone and the iPad are edging out competitors in tight markets
- The evolution of infographics and other online visual data has improved the way we do science, conduct our politics and, even, understand our geography
Finally, if you need more proof that a good visual (or random video) can rule the world, check out Rufus the Cat’s awesome tower built by his even more awesome master, Billy Browne.