The terminology thread 2: the words we used

Dan Margulis

My original question was aimed at showing that we shouldn’t rely on strict definitions of terms because we can’t know whether others, particularly nonprofessionals, will understand what we mean by them. I’ll confess to being pleasantly surprised by the relative precision of what people were saying.

Describing one version as cooler and the other as warmer, as most of us did, is understandable to anybody. The opposite would be Rick’s description of what he was seeing in terms of A and B channels. We understand it, but it would be gibberish to the average layperson.

Sometimes we just have to be more careful when speaking to a lay audience. When we were discussing the images here several people with respect to the face and one with respect to the Bible said that they were preferable in one version as opposed to the other. We know that the face and the Bible are identical in both versions but are made to seem different by their surroundings. We would need to state this explicitly to a client, who is likely to believe that they are different in fact.

The word lurid, used to describe part of the cooler version, means different things to different people; it’s like trying to assign a meaning to a poem. Another person described the cooler version as darker. That’s the kind of word we need to be careful of, because it has at least four potential meanings:  1) substantially all of one image has a different L value than the other; 2) certain smaller parts of one image have a lower L value than the other, causing the perception that the whole image is darker. 3) although both images have identical L values everywhere, something about the color distribution causes a viewer to perceive one as darker than the other. 4) the word has no relation to L values but is being used figuratively, to mean more somber or not as cheerful.

In the next thread, I’ll venture into our political system to show how people use terms even less precise than these.

Dan Margulis