by Val Stilwell, MSCS
Symbols used as language is universal– from the markings for ‘power on’ to the hash tag, symbols prompt and guide us every day. When it comes to quick, clear communication, visual triumphs text every time. Pictures represent narrative. In a quick glance, a story unfolds. Think of the power of the smiley face using a simple line drawing.
I like what one innovator has done - opened the notion of using symbols as a method to find a universal voice for public opinions. The simple concept of providing recognition for others with similar and like-minded thoughts without conversation opens up all kinds of anticipation.
A successful symbolic language was used to communicate in the 1930’s and 40’s as depression workers and returning soldiers traveled across our country either seeking work or returning home. They were known as Hobos or Home boys by some historians. Hobos were their own breed of people. Working as they traveled, hobos were clearly not tramps who only traveled and bums who did neither. Scrawled in chalk or charcoal, hobos drew strategic symbols providing silent narrative as they shared information about the traveled paths that lay ahead for other hobos.
Finding value in the historical use, HoboCode.Me has translated and resurrected the symbolic language of the hobos to serve today’s social commentary. The simple illustrations provide a wink-wink, nod-nod ability for fellow like-minded individuals to recognize each other with or without words. From sharing the love of good water between fellow kayakers to second amendment right believers, the simple HoboCode.Me symbols are proving to be strong, silent, and effective paths to clear communication.