02 January 2005

Scratch the itch

I hardly need to waste time articulating my general disdain for shopping plaza/mall/strip nomenclature, design and architecture. It's such an obvious vexation. Still I find myself needing to exclaim a hearty WTF in regard to the Eton Collection in Beachwood. It is a fairly standard shopping plaza, albeit can be criticized for its lame "French chateau" design mimicry. I would not have any reason to visit it did it not house a Trader Joes.

What irks me about it is its marketing. Ads for the pretentiously named Collection boast of "Beautiful Places for the beautiful people."
I understand that they are trying to kiss the asses of shoppers who will supposedly consider themselves "beautiful" if they shop there. Usually I expect some generic pablum but this slogan is somehow specific. The "the" in "the beautiful people" seems to further denote exclusivity. I can't really fully articulate why it so rubs me the wrong way, so feel free to deconstruct it for me. :)

In other mundane annoyances files is the increasing usage of "visual instructions". Twice this week I set out to complete relatively simple tasks--but ones that still required some instruction reading. I was changing the image drum of a printer at work and today intalling a Pur water filter on my kitchen faucet. Both had visual instructions. The printer one didn't even have any words to accompany it.

printer instructions

Now, these instructions were not too complicated to follow visually but I found myself wanting written words to guide me. The drawings are so generic and subjective. The water filter directions did have words as well as generic artwork but it was mostly of the "refer to figure 3A" variety. The challenge was figuring out the figures.

IKEA is known for its completely visual directions. Having purchased a few IKEA items, I have not had much difficulty in assembly using the directions. However, I have not bought anything exceedly complicated to assemble. I did purchase a little light that should not seem so difficult to use, but the visual directions indicated nothing about its optimal usage.

Years and years ago I read of the prediction that our culture would transform into a largely visual culture--that we would use symbols rather than words. (But aren't words really symbols?) Indeed, there are trends in that direction. Visual instructions are just one trend.

As a primarily linguistic learner, though, I'm not excited about it.

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