Catholics all across the world have been anxiously awaiting the election of a new Pope after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last month.
To indicate that the papal conclave has elected a new leader of the Catholic Church, a plume of white smoke billows from the Sistine Chapel today. The announcement of “Habemus Papam” or “We have a Pope” will be shared at St. Peter’s Basilica as the new Pope will be introduced on the Basilica’s balcony.
The visual indicator of white smoke from a chimney of a special building in Italy very quickly communicates to the world that there is a new pope. All Catholics know what the smoke means, and as soon as they see or hear about the signal they know exactly what is happening.
This is the purpose of visual indicators – not only communicate the right information quickly from a distance (as necessary) but also enable others to act using that information. It certainly did not take long for the rest of the world to be aware of the election, did it?