There have been various attempts to establish visual language capable of eventually replacing alphabetic writing as we know it. However, all such systems suffer from poor efficiency. The interpretation of the pictographic symbols is left to the sensibility and the cultural background of the reader and therefore its significance is likely to change from person to person. The first attempt to begin defining an iconographic language, in terms consistent and properly implemented, was carried out by the Austrian Otto Neurath, who in 1941 founded the Oxford Isotype (International System of Typographic Picture Education) Institute. The Institute Isotype built a collection of symbols of people, places, objects and actions that have been used to enrich manuals, posters and other educational material. The Isotype was an antidote to writing: an alternative or supplement to the verbal communication that would highlight our commonalities instead of differences. Much of our daily life is guided and structured through the use of pictograms that serve as guidelines, orders, notices, prohibitions or directions. To do so, for decades to here has proliferated the language of pictograms, signs with strong visual synthesis and eventual international decoding.
We just need to look around to find that we are surrounded by pictograms. Our computers are full of them. The pictograms are economical, even in the literal sense: just see how some packaging and distribution systems products use pictograms to avoid having to translate a series of statements or specifications in multiple languages.