On the Strong Towns Network there is an ongoing discussion about having a common vocabulary when talking about our environment. I agree - but even with a common vocabulary with agreed upon definitions, words alone aren't enough to express what you mean. What we think about when we hear the words "city" and "street" can vary significantly based on our personal experiences, even if they all fit into the same basic definition. Ideas can easily be taken out of context and imagined in the wrong situation.
I use a lot of pictures in my blog posts to ensure that I get my messages across in the most effective way possible, and for them to be less likely taken in the wrong context.
As an example, just the basic concept of what a town is will differ for people that have spent most of their lives in rural Kentucky, rural Switzerland, Portland, London, and Venice.
Depending on your cultural background and your personal experiences, when you hear 'town' you could imagine an environment that could be any of the following;
When we think about 'buildings', 'streets', and 'street life' each person is going to apply it in the context they relate to the most.
For example, what do we think of when we hear:
"Let's visit that great restaurant only two blocks away!"
"The streets in town are busy today!"
"I was walking down the street one day minding my own business."
Without pictures, describing a city with bustling streets can either be good or bad depending on your concept of 'street' and 'bustling'. The whole tone of what I am trying to say can be turned around.
Sometimes, I could describe something that is wildly different to what you are use to or have ever seen before, and close to impossible to imagine with words.
Other times it's nice to show examples that are real and work.
That is why I use pictures.
Lots of them.