Icon Chat and Search Engine for People with Low Literacy

Following on from my post about “Taking Symbols for Granted“, where I reviewed Jonathan Chetwynd’s paper entitled “Communication with symbols: from the web to the internet and beyond”, Jonathan has just let me know about the launch of his Icon Chat and Search Engine at openicon.org. The Opera browser is recommended for viewing the site, although you can use FireFox to get the general gist (IE7 is rather intermittant).

The site includes links to three short YouTube videos describing:
* how to chat and search with icons using the application. It shows how chat can take place using symbols, such as using a “heart” for love;
* how to create a web page with a live icon – i.e. a graphic feed which updates, for example a weather symbol which updates as the weather is updated for that location;
* a look at a feed which uses icons, i.e. Zanadu (SVG enabled, so may not work on Internet Explorer), which has live image feeds of pet images from Flickr, the latest news, the latest weather, a direct link to play Radio 4, etc.

The aim is to present information in the form of images or symbols, which are drawn in from feeds. This is similar to a widget based approach, but the concept behind this site allows people with low literacy levels to use the internet without having to navigate complex external sites.

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