This week the lecture opened with an introduction to the differences between pictograms and ideograms. A pictogram being a representation of something in the real world (often with a visual resemblance), while an ideogram is a symbol which has had it’s meaning agreed upon and doesn’t necessarily represent something in the real world. The example given by Stuart was that of the ‘red cross’ and the ‘red crescent’ as ideograms, representing not a literal red object, but rather as agreed upon symbols of the relevant organisations.
While pictograms generally have a real-world basis, they are by no means objective. One way this was demonstrated to use in considering the well-known mapping of the London Underground which was originally designed by Harry Beck. This manner of displaying the train line was considered radical at the time, and disregarded geographical accuracy in favour of visual clarity. Although the pictogram represented the real-world train system, it’s overall style was influenced moreso by the circuitry diagrams familiar to Back and the tools he used at the time (which produced straight lines and 45˚angles).