What Does This Mean?

Do Not Touch!

My wife is a professor of technical communication at Georgia State University. On her twisty never-ending road to the Ph.D. she taught many undergraduates many courses. One small module of one of these courses was on Icons, and their utility in communicating important messages. As an exercise, she would have the class try to design an icon that could be used on a nuclear waste facility, to be understood for all time by humans, despite any changes that might occur to society, civilization, etc. A permanent message saying, “Do not touch this!” It’s a difficult problem, demanding more psychology than graphic design skill, in my opinion.

Then you get icons like the image above. A worthless coupling of inconsistent themes. Does this mean, “If you touch, be prepared for shock?” How about, “If you touch this, it will explode.”

The context of the message helps out, but this only makes sense if you already know what it means. And if you know what it means, why bother having this message? It boggles the foot.

This entry was posted in Iconography. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What Does This Mean?

  1. Jim says:

    I see this icon as meaning “Michael Bolton is performing on the radio; do not turn it on.”

  2. Ken says:

    Awww… I’d like to get an electrified smoke detector too. Every time my wife sets off the kitchen smoke detector because she forgot to open the window, I can reach up and get a pleasant shock to accompany the ear-piercing delight and eye-watering smoke?

    Hopefully the Yucca Mountain icons are a little better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>