Below is text from one section of Douglas Galbi’s work, “Sense in Communication.” This work includes text and images. Some images may be missing below (due to use restrictions) or improperly formatted. The full work in pdf format, including all images, as well as other text sections, are available at


V. Sense in Media Evolution


About 2000 years ago, an eminent Chinese scholar explained a two-player board game thus:

Lost territory being again recovered is like the might of Cao Zi.  When you lay an ambush and devise a feint, and break through an encirclement and run riot, this is like Tian Dan’s surprise move.  When you exert pressure on the opponent and plunder from each other and so divide territories and take compensation from each other, this is like the behaviour of Su and Zhang. …

As regards being at ease in playing yi, if you exert yourself fully so that you forget to eat, and are so happy that you forget your sorrows, then we can recommend it and praise it highly, for this is like Confucius’ concept of himself.[1]

Spanning simple to complex neurological levels, one sense of exertion and happiness replaces another of hunger and sorrow.  One presence is the opponent, a person in close physical proximity, whose disposition, intentions, and actions must be interpreted and anticipated.   Another sense is that of another self in vigorous physical action – ambushing, breaking through, running riot, dividing, taking.  This sense repeatedly shifts to the sense of disparate, renowned figures in Chinese history.  Human beings like you have made all this sense in a game that has, as sensuous artifacts, just a board with a 19x19 grid of lines on it, 180 white stones, and 181 black stones.[2] 

      Making sense of presence with such means, while it may be desirable for personal development and praiseworthy as a human activity, has not been typical among most persons with the opportunity to use new media.  This point might be best understood personally:

Ask yourself why you don’t write letters anymore.  Something deeper at work, I think, than “the telephone did it.”

What is required to write a letter?

The letter, written in absorbed solitude, is an act of faith: it assumes the presence of humanity: world and self are generated from within: loneliness is courted, not feared.  To write a letter is to be alone with my thoughts in the conjured presence of another person.

How do you decide between writing a letter and making a phone call?

Given the alternative between making a call and writing a letter, I’d have to conclude that I prefer the call because that is what I opt for 9 times out of 10.  But I don’t prefer it.  It is simply what I do.  It is what everyone does: the habitual response of the world I find myself in.[3]

Although most persons prefer that it were not so, physical presence is a scarce resource that each person can share only with a small number of others for a limited time.[4]   What persons do indicates an aspect of this economics that remains even with communications technologies that span space and time.  For a living body to replace missing senses of physical presence requires work.  Persons tend to choose communication services that reduce the amount of work that a person must do to make sense of presence.

      Lessening the cost of making sense of presence explains important aspects of media evolution.  Persons have predominately favored colorful media – media that creates different patterns across red, green, and blue cones – relative to media that offer only variations in intensity from black to white.  Television, which integrates sound with moving images, has dominated radio and text in absorbing persons’ discretionary time.  The bodily cost of making sense of presence, which naturally includes sense of color and integration of sensory modes, better accounts for this pattern than effectiveness in information transfer or storytelling.

      The evolution of photography and telephony indicates that pictures and voice are complementary.  Photography and telephony have much different conventional circumstances of use.  Nonetheless, they both provide personal communication.  Photographs taken relative to minutes of telephone conversation has been remarkable stable in the U.S. over the past century, despite a large reduction in the difference between the real marginal cost of photographs and of telephone conversation minutes.  Photography industry revenue has grown much more slowly than that of the telephony industry.  These trends suggest that telephony and photography are complementary components of a composite good, sense of presence. 

      New media and communication services, such as virtual worlds and camera phones, could create more value in making sense of presence.  Virtual world development has not sufficiently recognized that the real world offers valuable resources for virtual worlds, not obstacles to immersion.  Making sense of presence requires communication across different worlds, a process at the core of the value to persons of participating in virtual worlds.   Current mobile camera phones do not integrate well sight and sound to evoke presence; one cannot easily look, show, and talk at the same time.  A mobile communication device that included detachable interface components would offer important new opportunities for integrating sight, sound, and muscular activity.  Such new technology would not primarily offer a new good but lessen users’ cost of experiencing a well-established good: the sense of presence of another in the absence of physical proximity.


A. Sensuous Values Have Economic Value


If you understand communication only as information transfer or storytelling, much of communication you cannot understand.  For example, PowerPoint presentations.   One sees multi-color patterns, textures, icons, and images, overlaid by separated lines of monochromatic text.  Sometimes the text enters or leaves with animation, sliding or rotating, and sometimes it dissolves.  The text presents words that are often not legible to many persons and frequently meaningless in any case.[5]  Usually the presenter reads the displayed text to make it clearer.  Sometimes short audio and video clips interrupt the presenter’s voice.  The over-all effect is commonly called “Death by PowerPoint.”[6] 

      Why are such performances so common?  Information transfer is closely associated with simple, monochromatic, standardized codes, such as numbers, words or mathematical symbols.  Famous folktales, novels, and silent films demonstrate that compelling narratives can be conveyed with only voice, only text, or only pictures.  Suppose that, for all PowerPoint presentations, the codes that persons commonly perceive on each slide were extracted, enlarged if feasible, and placed on a white background, and then the slides were shown seriatim, silently.  In more instances than not, the resulting presentations would transfer information more effectively and convey a more coherent, more impressive story.  Part of the explanation for adding color and animation to images surely is ignorance of good technique for information transfer and lack of appreciation for the art of storytelling.[7]  But bringing persons together in physical proximity for meetings and conferences, and more generally, in cities, contributes to communication in ways not well-explained by information transfer or storytelling.[8]  Sensuousness built into a PowerPoint presentation seems in part an attempt to create a sense of presence to substitute for that of the presenter.  The results inevitably disappoint, but the attempts are revealing.


1. Color


Persons value a multi-color image more highly than the same image in monochrome.  Since the inception of European printmaking late in the fourteenth century, multi-color versions of monochrome prints have been produced for a full range of uses, including elite culture, prayer, politics, and card-playing.[9]  Coloring was costly relative to making a monochrome print.  To reduce the cost of adding color, stenciling techniques were developed.  Even with such innovation, price lists indicate that colored prints were three to five times more expensive than the same print in the original monochrome.[10]  Nonetheless, the scope of division of labor in the industry, concern to establish regulation to limit competition among producers, and large variations in the quality of colored prints all indicate that there was mass demand for colored prints.  One sixteenth-century customer bought a thousand hand-colored copies of a single woodcut image.  A school-teacher’s guild distributed hand-colored prints as receipts for payment of dues.  According to recent scholarly study, most residents of Antwerp between 1530 and 1575 could afford to buy low-quality colored prints.[11]  That mass markets for color prints developed in Europe from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century indicates that many persons valued the addition of color at multiple times the value of the corresponding monochrome print.

      More recent developments also indicate that person value color in images across a wide variety of circumstances and uses.  In the U.S. from 1965 to 1975, the percent of homes with a color television receiver, among homes that had any television receiver, rose from 5.3% to 70.8%.[12]  This shift to color occurred even though throughout the period color receivers cost three to four times as much as monochrome receivers, and all color programming signals were compatible with being displayed in monochrome on existing monochrome receivers.[13]  Although important uses of computers, such as word-processing, spreadsheets, and databases, are not naturally associated with color, the shift from monochrome to color displays occurred even more rapidly for personal computers than for television.  Dedicated, general-purpose color displays began to appear in standard personal computer configurations in the late 1980s.[14]  By late 1997, 87% of U.S. homes with a computer had a color monitor.[15]  Wireless handsets and hand-held personal digital assistants (PDAs) are expected to shift rapidly from monochrome to color displays.[16]  Color is also currently an important aspect of competitive advantage in the newspaper industry.[17] 

      Western cultural and scholarly elites have long tended to disparage color as indicating a lesser stage of cultural and intellectual development.  A leading European intellectual wrote in 1528:

I admit that Apelles was a prince of painting and that his rival artists could find no fault with him except that he did not know when to stop, a criticism which is a sort of compliment in itself.  But Apelles used colour.  His colours were admittedly restricted in number and the reverse of flamboyant, but they were colours none the less.  Dürer, however, apart from his all-round excellence as a painter, could express absolutely anything in monochrome, that is in black lines only… he can draw the things that are impossible to draw: fire, beams of light, thunderbolts, flashes and sheets of lightening, and the so-called clouds on the wall, feelings, attitudes, the mind revealed by the carriage of the body, almost the voice itself.  All this he can do just with lines in the right place, and those lines all black! And so alive is it to the eye that if you were to add colour you would spoil the effect.  It is surely much cleverer to be able to dispense with the meretricious aid of colour that Apelles required and still achieve the same results as he did.[18]

The valuation of color in this analysis is closely related to the world of beautiful letters, in contrast to the world of meretricious reality.  According to this authority, evoking with only black marks on white paper the sense of feelings, attitudes, the mind, the voice, and other effects is a great achievement.  Not coincidentally, such drawings, compared to colorful paintings or colored sculptures, make sense in a way closer to written words.  Persons have always had the opportunity to communicate in various ways, e.g. eating, reading, and having sex.  Although most persons have valued seeing color, leading intellectuals have tended to prefer seeing black and white.[19] 

      The value of color in a wide range of circumstances suggests that it generally reduces the cost of making sense.  For representing and signifying in early color prints, color is much less important than the lines in the underlying drawing, and the same drawing was colored in much different ways.[20]  Similarly, the color that viewers’ sense on television receivers and computer monitors is not tightly controlled by the transmission and display technology.[21]  In early color prints, color occasionally attempted to record sense of the world, such as the decoration of carts and figures in an important historical event.[22]  However, the most frequent use of color that goes beyond the marks on the underlying drawing is blood red added to the body of a suffering Jesus.  Such coloring powerfully evoked a sense of presence of the wounded body.[23]  Compared to the underlying monochrome print, a colored print allows the viewer to make sense of the image from a greater distance and with less time and attention.[24]  It is as if color frees the viewer from having to do within her body the work of painting a monochrome image in making sense of it.[25] 


2. Graphics, Audio, and Video


Web pages delivered through the Internet typically give considerable weight to graphics.  Most popular web pages look more like pages from a magazine than from a book.  Among all web pages under the Thailand top-level domain name in March 2000, 75% included some graphic element, and the average number of images per page (including small embedded images) was 10.[26]   Images account for perhaps 60-70% of the storage size of personally created web pages.[27]  Web pages grew into a mass media after monitors capable of displaying color graphics had been widely adopted.  That sequence was not a coincidence.  By providing a colorful, graphical means of communication, the Web popularized use of the Internet.

      While graphics played a major role in popularizing the Web, text is key to what many users currently do with the Web.  A leading authority on Web usability describes the Web’s “basic imperative” as “let users go where they want and get their information needs instantly gratified.”[28] Text readily supports cheap scanning, searching, and authoring.  Simple text-box advertisements linked by relevance to keyword searches have economically dominated large, animated banner ads.  Users seeking company financial information prefer textual sources to audio and video records of presentations.[29]  Blogs, which in current practice are primarily textual, were probably the most important Internet development in the year 2002.[30]  In most applications, text is the most economic means for transferring information.  Using the Web for getting information emphasizes text.

      The provision of information was a contentious issue early in the evolution of the U.S. commercial radio industry.  Radio reporting on the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s baby, as well as radio coverage of the 1932 presidential election, helped to attract attention to radio.  In 1933, the U.S. newspaper industry responded by securing a private agreement to restrict radio’s provision of news.  Under the agreement, radio networks were restricted to no more than two, five-minute news broadcasts a day, to be broadcast after delivery of the morning and evening newspapers, news reports were required “to be devoted to a generalization and background of general news situations and [to] eliminate the present practice of the recital of spot news,” radio news report were required to encourage listeners to read newspapers for more details, and radio networks agreed not to develop their own newsgathering capabilities.[31]  Insufficient industry concentration and lack of industry discipline quickly caused the agreement to break down.[32]  Yet, even if such an agreement had been enforced through government regulation, one should not presume that it would have significantly affected the development of radio communication.

      Most radio use is not about getting information.  From the beginning of popular U.S. commercial radio in the late 1920s, radio programming has been predominately music.  In 1932, 64% of radio programming was music, mainly live music, 20% was drama and verbal entertainment, while only 12% was information-oriented, e.g., education, weather, politics, sports.[33]  By 2002, about 80% of radio listening was music.  Radio drama has largely disappeared, and talk radio has arisen to account for the largest share of non-music listening.[34]  Music, the typical form of communication through radio, includes aspects of storytelling (the lyrics, the pattern of movement in sound) and sense of presence (the person singing or playing, understanding personally the emotion of the sound).  Radio could be used to transmit information, but it hasn’t been predominately used to communicate in this way. 

      The gradual disappearance of radio drama in the U.S. roughly coincides with the growth of television.  Early radio drama included law enforcement (e.g. True Detective Mysteries, 1929-59; Mr. District Attorney, 1939-52), comedy (e.g. Amos and Andy, 1929-60, Abbott & Costello, 1940-49), and children’s adventure (e.g. Little Orphan Annie, 1931-42; The Lone Ranger, 1933-56).[35]  The dramatic format that occupied the largest share of broadcast hours was known as the women’s serial drama, also called “soap operas” because soap advertisements were common in them.  At their peak in 1940, soap operas made up 57% of all daytime radio network programming.[36]  The share of households with a television rose above 20% in 1951 and above 50% in 1954.[37]  After 1960, there was almost no dramatic programming on radio.[38]  Soap operas became, and still remain, a prominent feature of daytime television.  Law enforcement, comedy, and children’s superhero programming also crossed over to television. 

      The shift of drama from radio to television highlights the value of video in augmenting audio.  Popular programs, such as soap operas, law enforcement, and adventure, have well-established storytelling conventions that did not change from radio to television.[39]  Radio programs could effectively tell the same stories as the television programs that replaced them.  Moreover, radio listeners made sense of the presence of characters in radio dramas in ways not limited by the medium:

If one of the episodes involved the birth of a child the program could expect to receive not only notes of congratulations but baby gifts from all over the country.  The same phenomenon occurred on the occasion of birthdays and anniversaries mentioned in any script.  There were offers to loan money or to extend assistance to destitute characters.[40]

Table 3

U.S. Communication Trends

(hours per week as primary

activity in discretionary time)




Time Use




Telephone Use




Film, Radio, Rec.Music




Reading and Writing




Television Use




Other activities




For individual persons, making sense of radio characters involved bodily work, conventionally summarized as imagination.  To enhance the sense of radio drama characters, radio networks and advertisers mailed thousands of pictures of radio stars, in costume, to radio drama listeners.[41]  This expenditure was made at the risk of undermining the value of the imaginative creations of listeners: the picture might not show a character as the listener imagined her to look.  Without the cost of postage or imagination, the video component of television distributes pictures to all viewers.  Thus television helps to produce sense of presence at lower cost. 

      As measured by hours of use as a primary activity, television has been by far the most important medium of non-job-related communication with persons not in physical proximity.  Persons across a wide range of countries typically spend about 15 hours per adult per week, about a third of total personal discretionary time, watching television as a primary activity.[42]  Almost all the growth in personal discretionary time in the U.S. from 1925 to 1995 was absorbed in watching television. By the year 2003, e-mailing, instant messaging, and web browsing, forms of written communication, probably amounted on average to about four hours per week of discretionary time use.[43]   This development has not changed the over-all dominance of television in communication with persons not physical present.

      Comparing the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. in the mid-1980s helps to identify the value of television.  In the mid-1980s, television programming and broadcasting in the U.S.S.R. was state-owned, state-controlled, and highly centralized.  Households had little opportunity to choose between programs: 68% of households received two or fewer program channels.  In contrast, television in the U.S. in the mid-1980s was privately owned and commercially driven, and television offered viewers many programming choices: 88% of households received five or more over-the-air television signals, while cable systems, with median capacity of over 30 channels, passed 76% of households.

      Despite these and other contrasts between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S., the television set, the way television was watched, and time spent watching television were remarkably similar.  In both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. the average viewer sat on a couch and watched a rectangular colored screen about two meters away.  In the U.S. in 1985 television viewing times for employed men and women were 14.6 and 12.1 hours per week respectively.  In Pskov, U.S.S.R. in 1986, television viewing times for employed men and women were 14.5 and 10.7 hours per week respectively.  One might debate whether television programming in the U.S.S.R. was better or worse than that in the U.S.  Clearly it was much different, as were the societies in general.  The common attraction of television is related to very general properties of making sense.

      Television provides a low-cost means for experiencing sense of presence.  Television uses coherent aural and visual stimuli to present persons.  Reading a romance novel, listening to a radio soap opera, or watching television, a person sitting in a chair at home can experience the same sense of presence from the same story.  The historical dominance of television suggests that coherent aural and visual stimuli naturally requires less bodily work from persons in making sense of presence than reading or listening to a voice without a corresponding image. 

      Another cost advantage of television is that it typically presents persons in evolutionarily favorable circumstances for making sense of presence.  Being in physical proximity to another person offers an even more extensive external sense of another than television presents.[44]  That television, rather than socializing, has dominated use of additional discretionary time indicates the importance of internal resources in making sense.  Internal resources are the physical structure of the body, including the brain, and lived experience.  Circumstances of reproductive opportunities and bodily danger, i.e. sex and violence, are central to evolutionary selection for fitness and are common experience.  Compared to the physical presence of a person, television artfully presents persons in circumstances in which the body makes sense of presence with less work.  That person is just looking at me.  What is she thinking?  What can I say?  Being together only supplies some of the resources that make sense of presence.  Circumstances favorable to the resources that the brain has acquired over time also matter. 


B. Photographs and Telephone Calls are Complements


Both self-produced and professional non-business photographs primarily concern communication with friends and family.  According to a U.S. survey in 2000, the five most common occasions for self-produced photographs were “Christmas/Hanukkah” (86%), “travel/vacations” (80%), “birthdays” (79%), “home family events” (61%), and “weddings/showers” (55%).[45]  These occasions typically involve gathering together family and friends.  The situation most frequently associated with increased household picture-taking is “more children/ grandchildren around.”  Persons take photographs “to preserve memories” (95%), “to share later with others” (73%), “for pure enjoyment” (45%), and “to give away as gifts” (25%).  Photographs produced by professionals for non-business customers typically are portraits of families and individual family members, group photographs of teams, clubs, and organizations, and pictures of persons at socially significant events such as weddings, graduations, and high school formal dances.  One might easily imagine what most self-produced and professional non-business photographs look like.  But recognizing specific persons is key to the value of these photographs.  The persons most interested in looking at particular photographs usually know well the persons pictured.[46]

     “Photographers” developed as an occupational category late in the nineteenth century and rapidly encompassed a large number of







To collect photographs is to collect the world. ... To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. … Photographs are valued because they give information.

     – Susan Sontag 1977:3-4, 22









Given that the social norm defines both what must and what may be photographed, the field of the photographable cannot extend indefinitely ... one cannot photograph the photographable for ever, and, apart from the photographable there is, as they say, ‘nothing to photograph’.

     – Pierre Bourdieu  1965: 24










professionals.  In 1890, photographs were just starting to become objects that ordinary persons produced for themselves.  Persons who professionally identified themselves as photographers in 1890 predominately did custom, personal photography.  The number of professional photographers in 1890 was similar to the number of accountants, artists, and dentists, and ten times larger that than the total number of authors.[47]  Across the twentieth century, the numbers of artists and dentists grew at similar rates, photographers grew slightly slower, while authors and accountants grew much faster.  All these professions grew much faster than the over-all population.[48] However, from 1890 to 1997, revenue per photography studio fell from eight times average economy-wide worker earnings to two times average earnings.[49]  The challenge over time to the occupation of photographer has not been lack of occupational recognition and job opportunities, but declining relative value.


Table 4

Employment in Occupations

(workers, in thousands)























The lure of photographs, their hold on us, is that they offer at one and the same time a connoisseur's relation to the world and a promiscuous acceptance of the world. … Whatever the moral claims made on behalf of photography, its main effect is to convert the world into a department store or a museum-without-walls in which every subject is depreciated into an article of consumption.

     – Susan Sontag 1977: 81, 100






To pry an object from its shell, to destroy its aura, is the mark of a perception whose “sense of the universal equality of things” has increased to such a degree that it extracts it even from a unique object by means of reproduction.  Thus is manifested in the field of perception what in the theoretical sphere is noticeable in the increasing importance of statistics.

     – Walter Benjamin 1936: 223




     The conventions of photography have changed little despite major changes in industry structure.  In the late nineteenth century, an ordinary household might have about ten professionally produced photographs of friends and family.[50]  Such photographs would evoke rich memories, be shared with intimates, and might be offered as special gifts.  Self-produced photographs have subsequently grown to outnumber professionally produced photographs by about a factor of twenty.[51]  Revenue associated with end-user equipment, supplies, and processing has grown from 20% of professional photographers’ revenue in 1890 to 200% of that revenue in 1997.   However, about a quarter of households still purchased professional photographs in 1999, and custom, personal photography accounted for about two-thirds of professional photographers' revenues.[52]  Moreover, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, most self-produced photographs and non-business professional photographs are still similar in subject matter and use to the photographs that established the occupation of photographer in the nineteenth century.


Table 5

Photography Revenue

(millions of dollars)































The industrialization of photography permitted its rapid absorption into rational – that is, bureaucratic – ways of running society. … Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted. … Photography has become the quintessential art of affluent, wasteful, restless societies – an indispensable tool of the new mass culture...

     – Susan Sontag 1977: 21, 24, 69





Photography is and is not a language; language also is and is not a “photography.”

     –  W.J.T. Mitchell 1994: 281





The disconcerting ease with which photographs can be taken, the inevitable even when inadvertent authority of the camera’s results, suggest a very tenuous relation to knowing. … Like other steadily aggrandizing enterprises, photography has inspired its leading practitioners with a need to explain, again and again, what they are doing and why it is valuable.

     – Susan Sontag 1977: 115





     Non-business telephone calls primarily concern communication with friends and family.  While the motivation for telephone calls, and the content of them, has received remarkably little scholarly attention,[53] available evidence indicates that non-instrumental communication with friends and family has long been a central aspect of telephone use.  In 1909, an applied scholar found that, in sample of residential telephone calls in Seattle in 1909, 30% of calls consisted of “purely idle gossip,” while another 20% were between subscribers’ residences and their places of business.[54] 

     This pattern of use hasn’t changed.  Telephone company traffic studies in the early 1970s found that 40-50% of residential telephone calls span a two-mile radius, while 20% of residential calls go to a single number, and 50% of residential calls to a set of five numbers.[55]  In 1975, persons in Manhattan’s Lower East Side lost phone service for twenty-three days due to a fire in a switching station.  A study of a sample of those persons found that the ability to make and receive calls from friends and family was missed much more than the ability to make and receive calls related to business, medical, and shopping purposes.[56]  While telephony allows communication in the absence of physical proximity, telephony use is predominately conversations among persons who know each other in person.

    Most persons have not recognized any relationship between communicating using . 





This is not a pipe.

     –- Michel Foucault 1973: 0








Where the claims of knowledge falter, the claims of creativity take up the slack. 

     – Susan Sontag 1977: 117-8










the Winter Garden Photograph, however pale, is for me the treasury of rays which emanated from my mother as a child, from her hair, her skin, her dress, her gaze, on that day.

     – Roland Barthes 1980: 82


photographs and communicating by telephone. Social conventions or technological devices have not connected to telephone conversations acquiring photographs, viewing them, and sending them.  Persons typically do not consciously choose between using photography or using telephony.  The telephony and photography industries historically have had little organizational interaction.  The considerable scholarly literature on photography, and the much lesser amount on telephony, join photography and telephony only in highly abstract, impersonal mechanisms and modernization narratives. 


Table 6

Prevalence of

Telephones and Camera

(share of households with)


















     However, many persons’ choices across a century indicate that communicating using photographs and communicating by telephone calls are highly complementary.  The share of households with a telephone and the share with a camera have increased in parallel from less than 2% for phones and 1% for cameras in 1890 to about 94% each about 1995.  The number of end-user photographs and the number of telephone minutes has been roughly co-integrated: the ratio of minutes of residential telephone conversation to the number of self-produced and professional non-business photographs has been relatively stable.  The ratio of these communication indicators might have diverged by a factor of ten or more in either direction.  That the ratio didn’t is an important fact.










There is an aggression implicit in every use of the camera. … Just as the camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a sublimated murder – a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.

     – Susan Sontag 1977: 7, 14-5, 24








I have been photographing our toilet, that glossy enameled receptacle of extraordinary beauty.... Here was every sensuous curve of the “human figure divine” but minus the imperfections.

     – Edward Weston 1925, in Columbia World of Quotations 1996: 63843.


Table 7

Telephone Conversation Minutes and Photographs

(millions of minutes and photos)





Tel. Mins.






















     The stability of this ratio is more remarkable when considered along with relevant price changes.  Local telephone service has generally been provided on a flat-rate basis in the U.S. from the end of the nineteenth-century to the present.[57]  Thus a rough approximation to the marginal cost of an additional telephone call from 1890 to 1995 is zero.  In contrast, the marginal cost of a self-produced photograph was about 17 cents in 1890 and about three times that in 1995.[58]  Since average wages increased by about a factor of eighty across the same period, the real marginal cost of a photograph (the cost measured in equivalent time working at average contemporary wages) fell by about a factor of twenty-seven.[59]  Typically, when the price of a product goes down, users buy relatively more of that product.  Yet despite a twenty-seven-fold reduction in the marginal cost of photographs, and a much smaller reduction in the marginal cost of telephone minutes, the number of photographs did not grow sharply relative to telephone minutes. 

     Folk wisdom provides some insight into the relationship between pictures and words.  The phrases “one look is worth a thousand



When Geldermans told  me that Anquetil always moved his water bottle to his back pocket during climbs, so his bike would be lighter, I began paying attention.  I noticed that in all the old pictures of Anquetil climbing, his bidon is always in its holder.  That’s straining at gnats.  Geldermans’ story strikes to the soul of the rider, and is therefore true.

    Those pictures are inaccurate.

     – Tim Krabbé 1978: 117






… the act of taking pictures is a semblance of appropriation, a semblance of rape.

     – Susan Sontag 1977: 24






the aesthetic of the great mass of photographic works may be legitimately reduced, without being reductive, to the sociology of the groups that produce them, the functions that they assign to them and the meanings that they confer upon them, both explicitly and, more importantly, implicitly.

     – Pierre Bourdieu 1965: 98



words” and “one picture is worth ten thousand words,” falsely attributed to a famous (unnamed) Japanese philosopher and described as a Chinese proverb, respectively, appeared in two advertisements in a U.S. commercial media journal in the 1920s.[60]  In the resulting process of mutation, competition, and natural selection, the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” came to inhabit the brains of more than half a billion persons by the beginning of the twenty-first century.  Since telephone conversations produce on average about 150 words per minute, the data indicate that a picture is worth about twelve thousand words of telephone conversation.  Thus folk wisdom recognizes an important relation and upholds the correct value to an order of magnitude.  But careful collection and analysis of data, and inspired interpretation, provides better understanding.[61]

    Communicating using photographs and communicating by telephone calls are related in a fundamental sense: the sense of presence.  The predominate uses of both photography and telephony involve actively recognizing another despite that person’s physical absence.  A photograph and a telephone conversation each provide only one mode of external sense of another person. Nonetheless, using a photograph or using a telephone call, bodily work can create a sense of presence.  The complementarity of photographs and telephone calls suggests that persons complement voice-only experiences of presence with image-only experiences of presence.   Communicating by telephone and with photographs may both increase with increased development of common skills associated with



All the authors concur, Sartre says, in remarking on the poverty of the images which accompany the reading of a novel: if this novel “takes” me properly, no mental image.  To reading’s Dearth-Of-Image corresponds the Photograph’s Totality-of-Image…

     – Roland Barthes 1980: 89









Any collection of photographs is an exercise in Surrealist montage and the Surrealist abbreviation of history.

     – Susan Sontag 1977: 68








So I went on, not daring to reduce the world’s countless photographs, any more than to extend several of mine to Photography: in short, I found myself at an impasse and, so to speak, “scientifically” alone and disarmed.

     – Roland Barthes 1980: 7




making sense of presence in the absence of physical proximity.  In addition, given that the brain's physical structure of memory evolved in circumstances of physical presence, complementary use of photographs and telephone calls may help to accumulate experience, within the constraints of conventional practice, in a form that increases the efficiency of brain processing of memories of other persons. 

    Despite persons using pictures and telephone calls complementarily, telephony revenue has become much greater than photography revenue.  From 1890 to 1939, telephony greatly expanded greatly its base of customers while experiencing little reduction in nominal revenue per telephone.[62]  In photography, the preponderance of photo production shifted from professional studios to self-production, which generated much less industry revenue per photo.  Overall, telephony revenue grew from slightly less than photography revenue in 1890 to more than eight times photography revenue in 1939.  Although personal use of telephony and photography throughout the twentieth century has primarily been for communication with friends and family, the photography industry never re-established a service business model to match that of telephony.  Telephony revenue in 1997, like in 1939, was about eight times greater than photography revenue.


Table 8

Telephone and Photography

Industry Revenue

(millions of dollars)




























Attempting to overcome a falsely rigorous objectivism by trying to grasp the systems of relationships concealed behind preconceived totalities is quite the opposite of succumbing to the seductions of intuitionism, which, conjuring up the blinding evidence of false familiarity, in the individual case merely transforms everyday banalities about temporality, eroticism and death into false essentialist analyses.

Pierre Bourdieu 1965: 9   











The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity. … The situation into which the product of mechanical reproduction can be brought may not touch the actual work of art, yet the quality of its presence is always depreciated.

     – Walter Benjamin 1936: 220-1




     That telephony generates more than eight times the revenue of photography would probably surprise shrewd nineteenth-century innovators and business persons.  Samuel F.B. Morse, a prominent early nineteenth-century portrait painter and an inventor of the telegraph, considered the daguerreotype, the first photography device, to be as important as the telegraph.  In 1839, the same year in which details of Daguerre’s invention were published, Morse built a daguerreotype and began experimenting with its capabilities.  In 1840 he opened one of the first commercial photography studios in the U.S.[63] 

     The telephone had a less auspicious reception.  About 1877, within a year after Alexander Graham Bell had publicly demonstrated telephony, the president of Western Union Telegraph Company turned down the opportunity to buy all the rights to Bell’s telephone.  He is reported to have remarked, “What use could this company make of an electrical toy?”[64]   Historically, most persons’ use of telephony has been fundamentally similar to their use of photography.   But the businesses built to serve these uses diverged in the past.  They may converge in the future.   











Mad or tame? … mad if this realism is absolute and, so to speak, original, obliging the loving and terrified consciousness to return to the very letter of Time: a strictly revulsive movement which reverses the course of the thing, and which I shall call, in conclusion, the photographic ecstasty.

     – Roland Barthes 1980: 119



C. Bringing New Media to Life


Companies providing traditional consumer photography and plain-old telephone service are urgently searching for more auspicious values.  Revenue associated with film, photo developing, and printing has historically accounted for about two-thirds of personal photography spending.[65]  Digital cameras require neither film nor photo developing, and they make digital display of photographs almost costless.  The rapidly increasing popularity of digital cameras threatens to destroy the traditional revenue model for personal photography.[66]  Rapidly falling communications equipment costs, new software developments such as Internet telephony, and fierce price-based competition among voice telephony providers similarly threaten to evaporate a large amount of revenue associated with voice telephony.[67]  The inertia of habitual activities and patterns of thinking, along with regulatory and political barriers to change, ensures that change will take time.  But forward-looking industry participants and policy-makers must think about new media and communication services.

      Virtual worlds are an important new media development.  While best understood as places, virtual worlds are associated with games and play.[68]  Many virtual worlds are also called online games or MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games).  A seminal development in virtual worlds happened in the fall of 1978 at Essex University, England: an undergraduate began to program what became known as a MUD (Virtual Online World).  In this first MUD, by means of text and in accordance with the rules of the underlying, shared computer program, multiple players interacted with each other, the environment, and persistent objects in that shared context.   Programmers rapidly reproduced and ramified the MUD, leading to the code families TinyMUD, LPMUD, and DikuMUD, and then further differentiating into MOOs, MUCKs, and MUSHs.  These textual worlds attracted ardent players and generated considerable revenue for early online services.[69]  Textual worlds still exist, and a leading authority on virtual worlds considers them still to be capable of providing the most advanced virtual world experience.[70]

      Virtual worlds have been successful in attracting users and generating revenue for their owners.  NCsoft’s Lineage, a graphical virtual world launched in Korea in September, 1998, generated about $100 million in revenue in 2001, and, as of mid-2003, had 3.2 million monthly active users and 300,000 concurrent users.[71]  Other virtual worlds that have attracted more than 100,000 subscribers include Ultima Online, EverQuest, and Dark Age of Camelot.[72]  These virtual worlds charge subscribers a fixed fee per month for use.  In the U.S., this fee is typically around $10/month.  Virtual world software, updates, and extensions are generally sold for a small, additional fee.  Virtual world companies do not own, operate, or include within their service the underlying communications infrastructure.  They operate as value-added service providers using more generally capability communications infrastructure.  With their high operating leverage, committed player bases, and steady revenues, virtual worlds have attracted considerable business interest.

      Sensuous richness shapes competition among virtual worlds. The quality of players’ experiences in virtual worlds is highly contingent on a player’s circumstances, actions, and interactions with other players.  Thus comparing and communicating the quality of experience in different virtual worlds is difficult.  Quality of graphics, and more generally, sensuous richness, is much more readily apparent.  Moreover, sensuous richness reduces the cost of making sense of presence in virtual worlds.  All the virtual worlds that have attracted more than 100,000 paying subscribers are graphical virtual worlds.  For virtual worlds, sensuous richness has been a major determinant of popular appeal and commercial success.[73]

      The importance of sensory stimulation in virtual worlds has long been recognized.  Consider these points for meditating on hell, written about five hundred years ago:

First point: To see in imagination the great fires, and the souls enveloped, as it were, in bodies of fire.

Second point: To hear the wailing, the screaming, cries, and blasphemies against Christ our Lord and all His saints.

Third point: To smell the smoke, the brimstone, the corruption, and rottenness.

Fourth point: To taste bitter things, as tears, sadness, and remorse of conscience.

Fifth point: With the sense of touch to feel how the flames surround and burn souls.[74]

This technique systematized a common spiritual practice of seeking understanding of other-worldly truths through full experience of the living body.[75]  Although these points were generally communicated to early users orally, early users were expected to use this sense to guide their actions through this world: “if I should forget the love of the Eternal Lord, at least the fear of punishment will help me to avoid falling into sin.”[76]  Stimulating sense in the virtual world was not just a matter of immersion in that world, but also directed to connecting the other world to this world in the living body.

      Some designers and scholars of virtual worlds have not understood the importance of the body to virtual worlds.  In recent, pioneering economic research on virtual worlds, an economist described the body as an instrument of the mind:

when our minds experience the Earth, they do so through our bodies.  Our bodies must react to the forces imposed on them by the Earth's environment, and when our senses detect an opportunity to meet a goal, we must direct our bodies to act in the Earth's environment to achieve the goal.  Our real bodies are, in some sense, our Earth avatars: when we are in Earth, our selves are present in and represented by a body that exists in Earth, and only there.[77]

 This research describes use of virtual worlds as the mind's choice of another body:

When we visit a virtual world, we do so by inhabiting a body that exists there, and only there.  The virtual body, like the Earth body, is an avatar.  When visiting a virtual world, one treats the avatar in that world like a vehicle of the self, a car that your mind is driving.  You “get in,” look out the window through your virtual eyes, and then drive around by making your virtual body move.  The avatar mediates our self in the virtual world: we inhabit it; we drive it; we receive all of our sensory information about the world from its standpoint.[78]

This understanding of the relationship between the mind and the body is inconsistent with the best current knowledge from neuroscience, physiology, psychology, evolutionary biology and other fields.[79]  Its prevalence hinders thinking about key opportunities for developing new media and communication services.

      A leading authority on virtual worlds has emphasized the importance of the relationship between the other world and this world.  This authority poses the question that business persons seeking to retain and expand their set of customers need to answer: “Who are these people and what do they want?”[80]  This authority's answer, given for virtual worlds but applicable much more generally to new media and communication services, is this:

The celebration of identity is the fundamental, critical, absolutely core point of virtual worlds.[81]

 “Celebration of identity” is a process described as follows:

For the great majority of players, virtual worlds encourage them to present different sides of themselves in a safe environment; challenges arise in the virtual world which enable them to reflect (consciously or otherwise) on their responses to those challenges, leading them to develop a greater understanding of themselves; over time, this brings about a gradual merging of the virtual side and the real side, as the player becomes increasingly attuned to their persona.[82]

This process does not describe escape from the real world or imply separation of the mind from the body, if that means anything and were possible.  The value of the other world is in presenting opportunities and challenges leading to greater self-understanding not divided by different worlds.

      Pushing this insight further has major implications for industry development.  Most players of virtual worlds currently play sitting down in front of a computer or a television screen.  But the best current scientific knowledge indicates that persons make sense of presence throughout the body: the body reveals the person.  Thus engaging persons in a wider range of muscular activity increases their self-understanding.  EyeToy, a device that Sony released in July, 2003, does just this.  This device sits on top of a television and integrates with the image on the screen the full-body actions of the person in front of it.  For about $50, the device comes with a set of twelve simple games, including “Kung Foo” (the player moves her arms to strike ninjas), “Beat Freak” (provides sound and visual prompts for dancing), and “Keep Ups” (the player keeps an on-screen ball in the air with movements of her head).  In September, 2003, about two months after its launch in Europe, an industry analyst called EyeToy a “killer app” and noted that 400,000 EyeToys had already been sold in Europe.[83]  One might consider EyeToy to be just a toy.  But deeper understanding of persons and what they want suggests that new media and communication services that move persons off their behinds point forward.

      Real body awareness is consistent with immersion in a virtual world.  Madden NFL Football, one of the most successful games of all time, readily supports multiple players.[84]  What is the value of the physical presence of players to each other?  One player might sense that the other player is not wearing football gear and not moving in ways characteristic of the players on the field.  That might be thought to distract from immersion in the game.  In fact, the effect is likely to be the opposite.  Physical expressions of the other player – e.g., muscular tension, gesture, vocalization, perhaps even changes in body odor – are likely to improve the value of the game to both players.[85] 

      Media and communication services create value by connecting different worlds.  The predominate uses of photography and telephony has been to communicate virtually among persons who have encountered each other regularly face-to-face.  Ring tones for mobile phones link telephony communication to a different world of communication in the physical surroundings of the receiver.  Cell-phone covers, faceplates, and screensavers function similarly.  These sorts of additions to mobile phones generate billions of dollars of revenue annually.[86]  One of the most successful Internet businesses has been online dating – virtual encounters oriented toward real-world ones.  Sony's PSP, scheduled to debut in the fourth quarter of 2004, is a hand-held game console that supports local wireless networking with other nearby consoles; Nokia’s N-Gage is a mobile phone that includes similar gaming capabilities.[87]  Players can thus easily choose different real-world circumstances for play.  Play can come from a combination of attributes of the real world, real persons, and digital creations, not just from a virtual world created only in players’ consoles or computers.

      Game designers should recognize the value of the real world to games.  Consider this development:

On the opening day of the Austin Game Conference, a two-day confab of online game developers, discussions turned to the new spate of handled devices that combine mobile gaming and cell phone capabilities that will enable people to play full-color, three-dimensional, multiplayer games over cell phone networks.[88]

A full-color, three-dimensional, multi-player mobile game sounds a lot like Real Life, described recently as “the most accessible and most widely accepted massively multi-player online role-playing game to date.”[89]  Surely players’ fantasies add to the fun of activities such as recreational golf, cycling, basketball, softball, and other sports.[90]  Physical bodies, real objects, and bodily movement really do contribute to fantasy.

      Celebration of identity through experiencing the opportunities and challenges that another world presents is intimately related to interpersonal communication.  Each human person is a separate virtual world that cannot be fully assimilated to any other.  But these separate virtual worlds share considerable common features in their design, e.g. DNA sequences.  Because human bodies are similar and there is only one real world, the virtual world of each person also shares with other persons considerable accumulated content in the form of common, past experiences.[91]  The evolutionary creation of human beings has given humans a distinctive capacity to understand others like themselves.  Celebration of identity for humans necessarily requires making sense of presence of another like oneself.

      Real-time text messaging has become an economically significant dimension of interpersonal communication.  Virtual worlds support textual communication much more extensively than they support voice communication (or the use of sound more generally).  Text messaging is the predominate form of real-time communication among virtual world players.  Text messaging is also used more generally.  In early 2002, the users of the 47 million active mobile phones in the United Kingdom sent on average 1.6 short text messages for every minute of voice conversation between mobile phones.[92]  Textual instant-messaging services based on wireline Internet connections are also popular.  In the U.S. in September 2001, about 20% of persons aged 10 and older used instant (text) messaging at home, and on average they spent about as much time using instant messaging as persons spend on average using the telephone.[93]  A distinct alphabet and vocabulary has developed for text messaging, one capable of expressive and moving poetry.[94] 

      Insights into sense of presence provide insights into the value of sensuous modes in interpersonal communication. Text-based forms of communication provide more control over external sense while requiring more work and more brain resources for making sense of presence.  An industry analyst recently described Microsoft's vision of “Presence in Context” thus:

every folder, every comment, every appointment is associated with an implicit buddy list.  Every context offers immediate access to the community of those people who are somehow associated with it. ... Presence is the killer app: it is the driving wheel for real-time messaging.  Bringing presence into every context is going to rework how we work, and how businesses operate.[95]

Providing sense of presence at low cost (immediate access in every context) seems inconsistent with text messaging, which has a higher cost of making sense of presence than voice and images.  Thus if Microsoft’s vision truly points to increased value, it probably also points to increased sensuous scope in messaging.

      Reduction in mobile voice rates and the development of more sensuously rich messaging capabilities on the Internet are likely to lead to a shift from text messaging to voice and audio-visual messaging in some major applications.  Most personal use of real-time text messaging, like use of telephony, concerns social communication among friends and family.  Controlling the external sense of presence in not likely to be important in such communication practice, while lowering the cost of making sense of presence is likely to have value.  In social interaction among friends and family, technological, operational, and pricing factors probably limit demand for more sensuously rich messaging, not more fundamental aspects of human communication.[96]  In contrast, in virtual world, chat room, and discussion forums, persons are typically much more concerned to limit or manipulate others’ sense of presence.[97]   These applications are likely to continue to favor use of text.

      Mobile camera phones, which can reduce the cost of making sense of presence, are rapidly becoming the most prevalent photographic devices.  From the launch of J-Phone’s “sha-mail” camera phone service in Japan in November, 2000, through to August, 2003, about two-thirds of J-Phone’s mobile users have adopted camera-equipped mobile phones.[98]  By the end of 2002, 15 million camera phones had been sold to the 73 million mobile phone users in Japan.[99]  The share of handsets equipped with cameras among mobile phones bought in Japan in 2003 is likely to be about 90%.[100]  Although camera phone diffusion in the rest of the world has been slower than in Japan, global camera phone sales outpaced global sales of stand-alone digital cameras in the first half of 2003.[101]  Persons tend to carry mobile phones with them at all times, but tend to carry a stand-alone camera only with specific intentions.  The rapid proliferation of mobile camera phones means that persons much more frequently have with them a device capable of making photographs.

      Use of camera phones thus far is similar to historical use of stand-alone cameras and plain-old telephone service.  In Japan, mobile camera phones have become well-established.  Mobile camera phone users in Japan in July, 2003, on average engaged in about 160 minutes of voice conversation and transmitted three photos per month.[102]  These figures imply about 53 minutes of voice conversation for every photo transmitted.  This ratio falls within the historical range produced across the past century in the U.S. for telephone minutes and photographs.[103]  Mobile camera phones give persons the ability to make and transmit images almost anywhere, in the same way that a mobile phone gives persons the ability to conduct a voice conversation almost anywhere.  The relative use of these new communication opportunities has changed remarkably little. 

      Without significant change in users’ understanding of the good that mobile camera phones support, historical regularities in demand for voice minutes and photographs are likely to be a good guide to anticipating demand for mobile camera phone functions.   Monthly voice minutes of use for mobile phone users in the U.S. is about three times higher than monthly voice minutes of use for mobile phone users in Japan.[104]  Thus the historical regularity in telephony and photography use suggest that U.S. users, on average and with well-established service under current voice use and current conventional photographic practice, will use their mobile camera phones to transmit about nine photos per month.  Service providers that seek to stimulate the use of the photo features of mobile camera phones should recognize that use of voice minutes and transmission of photographs are likely to be complements.  Thus more aggressive pricing plans for voice service from mobile camera phones might be an effective means to stimulate use of photo capabilities.

      Current mobile camera phones are not well-designed to create value in making sense of presence.  Using a mobile phone, persons make sense of presence through mutual, real-time voice interaction.  However, camera phones do not effectively implement mutual, real-time photo exchange among conversing users.  The physical design of current camera phones forces the user to interrupt the voice conversation in order to take a photo.  Camera phones’ development has generally been oriented toward higher resolution photos (more megapixels) stored on-camera or forwarded to websites.  Although making sense of presence is a fundamental source of value in communication, the development of camera phones has not recognized that images and voice are complements in making sense of presence. 

      Better designed mobile camera phones could reduce the cost of making sense of presence.  Seeking to understand another includes seeking to understand the other’s circumstances.  Persons in physical proximity, by virtue of having a common form of bodily being, have common knowledge of their physical circumstances.  Camera phones that allow users to share what they see help to support the circumstantial component of sense of presence.   The resolution of the images shared, or the capability to share video, is likely to matter less to sharing sense of circumstances than a simple, integrated, interactive means of exchanging visual sense of circumstances.  For example, a mobile camera phone might put real-time image exchange capability in the user’s hand while maintaining real-time voice conversation with a fashionable headset.[105]  Sense of presence is a well-established good.  Reducing the cost of making sense of presence creates value in communication.

      Mobile camera phones more effectively designed to reduce the cost of making sense of presence might lead to relatively more photo use.  The complementarity of sound and images in making sense of presence does not imply a specific ratio of voice and photo use.  That is a function of conventional practice.  In a survey of Japanese camera phone users in December, 2002, 42.4% of users took photos of “things that they happened upon that were interesting.”[106]  Such stimuli are impulses for interaction and sources of spontaneity that sustain conversations.   In contrast, persons typically use stand-alone cameras as planned activity within narrow boundaries of practice and subject-matter.[107]   Mobile camera phones designed to reduce the cost of making sense of presence might lead to more use of both voice and photos, but relatively more use of photos.




[1] From Ban Gu (32-92 G.C.) , “Yi Zhi,” as translated in Fairbairn (2000) [footnotes omitted, original term “yi” used in place of translation “go”].

[2] This game, known as wei-chi, go, and pa-tok, is still popular today.  There are perhaps 100 million players world-wide, with the largest numbers in China, Japan, and Korea.  Information in English about the game, and translations of the game to a computer, are available at and

[3] All the quotations in this paragraph are from Gornick (1994).  Gornick is a prolific author and has taught for many years non-fiction writing in graduate-level university courses.

[4] Peters (1999) pp. 270-1.

[5] How many readers know what TELRIC means?  To find out, see FCC (2003b).

[6] Paradi (2003).

[7] See Tufte (2003).  For an example of the Gettysburg Address rendered in typical PowerPoint style, see Norvig (1999).

[8] Physical proximity of persons has greatly affected the development of some industries, e.g. the computer industry in “Silicon Valley.”  The importance of physical presence to industrial structure is associated with tacit knowledge and real uncertainty.  See Leamer and Storper (2001) and Storper and Venables (2002).  Tacit knowledge differs from information in that it lacks conventional coding.  Real uncertainty contrasts with storytelling in that it implies an unknown narrative.

[9] Dackerman (2002).

[10] Id. p. 28, p. 47 n. 59, p. 161 n. 5.

[11] Van der Stock (1998), as cited in Dackerman (2002) p. 28.

[12] Sterling and Kittross (1978), App. C, Table 9.

[13] On receiver prices, id. Regarding compatibility, see id. 296-8.

[14] The Apple Macintosh II, introduced in March, 1987, was the first popular personal computer with a dedicated color monitor as its standard display.  For the specs of the Mac II and other early Apple computers, see  

[15] Based on supplementary questions in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey for Oct. 1997.  See Newburger (1999) and additional Table 1a, available at

[16] In-stat/MDR (2002).

[17] USA Today, which has been an industry leader in the use of color, has rapidly become the U.S. newspaper with the greatest circulation.  For U.S. newspaper circulation statistics, see

[18] Erasmus (1528) “The Right Way of Speaking Latin and Greek,” p. 399 in Sowards (1978).

[19] Batchelor (2000) provides compelling evidence of this.

[20] E.g. Dackerman (2002), Cat. 12, 16, 19, and 33.

[21] Perceived color depends on the light with which the display and surrounding area are illuminated.  Sensors and feedback channels are thus needed to transmit color with high fidelity.  Instead, television displays typically allow users to change colors to suit their own subjective sense of correctness.

[22] Dackerman (2002), cat. 30.

[23] Id. p. 30; cat. 18, 39, 40, 41, 53.

[24] This is apparent from the catalog pictures in id., and even more so in the associated exhibit, which I was fortunate to be able to attend. 

[25] The difference between making sense of color and monochrome images is less obvious for non-figurative uses of color, such as for web-page buttons, dividers, and backgrounds.  While the value of color may be attenuated in these uses, the same bodily process makes sense of the image in all cases.

[26] Sanguanpong  et al (2000) p. 7.  One large, unrestricted sample of web pages in 1995 found that 52% of pages contain an image (Bray (1996) Fig. 3).  Another similar study found 70% of pages to contain an image (Woodruff et al. (1996) Table 3).

[27] Koehler (2001) Table 2, where in the sample the average page size was 59 Kb.  I found that pages from a Google search on the keyword “John” in July 2003 had 68% and 78% graphics bytes for 25 (working) page samples taken from the first links listed and from the last 25 available (beginning rank 890), respectively.  The average page size was about 80Kb.  Large, comprehensive collections of web pages typically have average page sizes of 6-9Kb.  See studies citied in previous footnote.  More research on trends in the mix of graphics and text in personally created web pages would be helpful, particularly given development of low-cost digital photography and image processing.

[28] Nielsen (2003b).

[29] Neilsen (2003a).

[30] For a listing of leading blogs, see, e.g. and

[31] Broadcasting (1934) and Jackaway (1995) p. 28. 

[32] See Jackaway (1995) for discussion and analysis.

[33] Sterling and Kitross (1978) p. 73, 120, 162. 

[34] Based on Arbitron format data, available at

[35] Starting and ending years for many radio dramas are available at

[36] Sterling and Kitross (1978) App. C., Table 6, p. 523.   Id. p. 165 notes that 90% of advertiser sponsored (network) daytime programming was women’s serial drama.  Willey (1961) p. 114, n. 4, states:

Consensus is that about twenty million women, representing approximately half of the women at home during the day, listened to two or more serials daily.

Cf. id. p. 100 indicates that 71% and 93% of daytime network programming and sponsored daytime network programming, respectively, were serial drama.  Note that local affiliates aired only about 50% of network programs, and only 59% radio stations were affiliated with networks.  See Sterling and Kitross (1978) pp. 162-3, and Table 2A, p. 512.  Thus even in the daytime music still dominated what most radio stations played.

[37] Id. App. C, Table 9, p. 535.

[38] Id. pp. 336-8.  Willey (1961) pp. 97, 102-3.

[39] For discussion of dramatic structure and characterization in daytime radio serials, see id. pp. 105-8.

[40] Id. p. 109.  Id. notes:

Such examples of unusual audience identification could be dismissed as revealing a lunatic fringe were it not for the fact that hundreds of additional examples in an increasing order of sophistication lead without a clear line of demarcation to the great body of listeners who accepted their favorite serials as pure fiction but, in addition, as something more than entertainment.

[41] Sterling and Kitross (1978) p. 225.

[42] References for the information in this and the subsequent two paragraphs can be found in Galbi (2001a) pp. 12-20, unless otherwise noted.

[43] Based on Nielsen/NetRatings data for Aug., 2003, available at  Unfortunately this source, which seems to be the best currently available, lacks methodological documentation and terminological clarity.

[44] Persons typically attend films with others, and a considerable share of television watching occurs in the presence of others.  Yet persons watching a film or television together are primarily engaged in seeking to understand persons present in the film or television program, rather than each other. 

[45] PMA (2000) Chart 1b-2, p. 25.  Multiple responses were permitted.  Subsequent facts in this paragraph are from id., Chart 1b-4, p. 27; Chart 1b-1, p. 24; and Chart 13-3, p. 157.

[46] Being shown photographs not of one's own friends and family commonly evokes tedium.

[47] According to recent scholarship, the idea of the romantic author, associated with personal creative genius, gained prominence in the second half of the eighteenth century.   See, e.g. Woodmansee (1984).  But, at least in the U.S., the occupation of  “photographer” developed much more rapidly than “author.”  In the U.S. in 1850, only 82 males reported their occupation as “author,” while 938 reported their occupation as “daguerreotypist.”  While in the twentieth century the number of authors grew much more rapidly than the number of photographers, as late as 1980 the number of photographers was more than twice as great as the number of authors.  See Appendix C.  

[48] Cf. Nunberg (1996) p. 23-4.  U.S. resident population increased by a factor of 3.7: from 76.2 million in 1900 to 281.4 million in 2000.

[49] For photographers’ revenue, see professional services sources in Table Notes, under Table 5.  Establishment counts are from the same sources.  Average earnings in 1890 ($438) are from Historical Statistics (1975) D 779, p. 168, all industries including farm labor.  Average earnings in 1997 ($40,249) are from Statistical Abstract: 1999, No. 607, p. 443, domestic industries, annual total compensation for full-time workers.

[50] West (2000) p. 2.

[51] See Table Notes, under Table 7.

[52] PMA (2000) Chart 13-3 p. 157; Census of Business, 1997 (see Table Notes, under Table 5).

[53] Fischer (1992) pp. 23, 253; de Sola Pool (1977) pp. 2-3.  Many contributors to the latter volume make the same point in reference to different subjects and countries.  See id. p. 36; 69; 246, 258-9; 263; 281. 

[54] Judson (1909) p. 646.

[55] Mayer (1977) pp. 226, 228.

[56] Wurtzel and Turner (1977) p. 252.  One industry participant eventually recognized in its product strategy the importance of friends and family in telephone use:

Friends & Family is MCI's most successful residential product ever, and arguably one of the most successful new product introductions in the history of the competitive long distance industry. Within eight months after its introduction on March 18,1991, Friends & Family had attracted over five million customers!

MCI (1991), Annual Report, from “To MCI’s Stockholders and Friends.”

[57] In some cities, most importantly New York and Chicago, rates rose with the number of calls made (“metered service”).  But even in these locations, users did not face charges for additional minutes on a given local call.  Per minute charging for local calls is prevalent outside the U.S. and has been a significant restraint on dial-up Internet access use.

[58] The 1890 figure is based on the per photo cost of Kodak film, developing, and printing given in Kodak (1895) p. 68.  The figure for 1995 is my estimate based on personal knowledge.

[59] Wage trend calculated from Historical Statistics (1975) D 603, converted to per hour based on id., D 589, compared to Statistical Abstract:  1996, No. 659.

[60] Hepting (1999).

[61] One interpretation of folk wisdom is that one picture can substitute for a thousand words.  Another interpretation is that persons prefer packages of sense that combine words and pictures in a thousand-to-one proportion.  The former is probably the more common interpretation, but the data in this paper support the latter.  The relative importance of the two interpretations in the reproductive success of the folk wisdom is a subtle and complex question not addressed here.

[62] Revenue per telephone was $6.00 in 1890 and $4.69 in 1939.

[63] Bruno (2001), Southworth (1871), Davis (1996), Photographer (1896). 

[64] Aronson (1977) pp. 15-6.

[65] Wolfman Report for 1993, p. 56.  Calculations based on a variety of other data also support this figure.  In the Wolfman data, camera sales amount to about 10% of revenue, while other equipment and supplies make up the remainder.

[66] At year-end 2002, about 23 million U.S. households (about 21% of households) owned a digital camera. See PMA (2003) p. 1 and project total households from Statistical Abstract, 2002, Table 50, p. 48.  If their film camera were to break, 50% of households indicated that they would replace it with a digital camera.  PMA (2003) p. 1.

[67] Galbi (1999) documents relevant developments in long-distance voice competition. See Galbi (2002a) p. 1 ft. 4, and related text, regarding wireless voice.

[68] Bartle (2003) emphasizes that virtual worlds are places.

[69] Bartle (2003) pp. 3-35 provides an account of the development of virtual worlds from the perspective of a leading participant.  The facts in this paragraph are drawn from that source.

[70] Bartle (1999).  Cf. Bartle (2003) pp. 119, 240.

[71] Based on data from NCsoft’s website, (accessed Sept. 2003).

[72] Bartle (2003) pp. 28-9.  The Sims Online, a follow-up to the highly successful individual-player Sims computer and console series, disappointed industry observers by failing to reach 100,000 subscribers six months after its December, 2002, debut.  Star Wars Galaxies and EverQuest II, new virtual worlds expected to be launched commercially late in 2003 and 2004, respectively, have been backed by large development budgets and high industry expectations.

[73] Bartle (2003) pp. 70, 119, 289.

[74] Ignatius, c. 1540, The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, p. 59 in Mottola (1989).

[75] E.g. the life of St. Francis of Assisi (early 13’th century); Pseudo-Bonaventura (late 13’th century), Meditations on the Life of Christ, in Ragusa and Greene (1961); and Methvin (1899) pp. 55-60.

[76] Ignatius, c. 1540, Spiritual Exercises, p. 59 in Mottola (1989).

[77] Castronova (2003) pp. 4-5.

[78] Id.

[79] See Section I, infra.

[80] Bartle (2003) p. 125.

[81] Id. p. 159.

[82] Id. p. 162.

[83] Gamespot (2003), interview with Nick Parker.  Other information about EyeToy is from its impressive website, and various sales and review information on the web.

[84] For more on this game, see

[85] This, of course, is only true if both players are interested in playing the game.  South Korea, a leader in the development of virtual worlds, has more than 20,000 Internet cafes.  Koreans commonly enter virtual worlds from these cafes.  The difference between this circumstance of use and solitary home use may be related to the relative success of virtual worlds in South Korea.

[86] Traditional communications companies have overlooked the value of these goods until recently.  For an interesting report, see Guardian Unlimited (2002).

[87] For presentation of announced PSP specs and discussion, see (2003).   For details on the N-Gage, see

[88] Wired News (2003).

[89] Kasavin (2003) provides an insightful review of Real Life.  He notes an interesting and distinguishing feature of this world:

Real life features a great system whereby newbie players will automatically be guided along through the early levels by one or more "parent" characters who elect to take newbie characters under their wing. This is a great system, as these older, more-experienced characters reap their own benefits from doing a good job of guiding the newbie character along. The system does have some problems, though – sometimes you'll encounter "griefer" parents who shirk their responsibilities or, even worse, seem content to harass newbie players. 

Few economists have taken this feature seriously, as Morse (2001) insightfully points out.  Moreover, this feature tends to be associated superficially and unjustly with a particular sex or character type, i.e. “the agony of mothers’ choices between working and staying at home.”

[90] Fantasy football, baseball, cycling, and other sport games (see, e.g. and are examples of another sort of connection between worlds.

[91] Doubting that there is only one real world tends to undermine communication with others.

[92] Oftel (2002b), Table 2, shows 4,136 million short messaging service (SMS) messages between mobile phones for April-June, 2002.  Over the same period mobile phones terminated 6,032 million minutes of voice calls.  Oftel (2002a), Table 2, shows 3,506 million minutes of calls from fixed lines to mobiles.  Thus mobile-to-mobile voice conversation minutes were 6,032 minus 3,506 = 2526 minutes.    Mobile phone messaging, while currently negligible in the U.S., is common in Europe and Asia, and has been growing particularly rapidly in China.

[93] Jupiter Media Metrix (2001) indicates that instant messaging users spend about 58 min/wk doing instant messaging.

[94] The winner of the second Guardian text message poetry competition was this poem, composed by Emma Passmore:

I left my picture on th ground wher u walk

so that somday if th sun was jst right

& th rain didn’t was me awa

u might c me out of th corner of yr I & pic me


See Keegan (2002).  Examples of favorite messages (“Top Msg List”), as well as a translator, are available at 

[95] Boyd (2003).

[96] The culture and habits that have arisen with text message will help to sustain it, but probably not for most persons over the long term.  Of course, some genres of tense communication among intimates (e.g. “Dear John” letters) are likely to have a stable textual practice.

[97] Bartle (2003) pp. 118-9.

[98] Vodaphone (2002) p. 30 and Ito (2003).

[99] Asahi Shimbun (2003).  About Nov. 2002, J-Phone had sold 7.3 million camera equipped phones and had one million picture-messaging (“sha-mail”) users.  See Belson (2002), Latour (2002) [misinterprets camera sales as user count], and RCR Wireless News (2002).  NTT DoCoMo, which has offered picture phones and services since June 2002, announced in mid-January, 2003, that it had sold 5 million camera phones, including a million in the previous month.  See TelephonyWorld (2003).  KDDI has been offering a picture phone and associated communication services since April, 2002.

[100] Ito (2003).

[101] Strategy Analytics (2003).

[102] The voice usage figure, covering inbound and outbound minutes, is a relatively small extrapolation from the fiscal year 2003 figure in NTT DoCoMo (2003a), p. 38 (“DoCoMo in Figures”).  Photos transmitted is calculated from data in NTT DoCoMo (2003b) p. 5, apparently miscalculated in Pringle (2003).

[103] See Table 7, infra.

[104] Yankee Group (2003) found that the average U.S. wireless subscriber has 490 minutes of wireless use per month.

[105] Such a camera phone undoubtedly presents significant design and marketing challenges.  But the evidence suggests that the return from meeting these challenges would be high.

[106] Ito (2003).

[107] Bourdieu (1965).