How to stop boring people and make them want to understand
Apparently doodling is good for you (I knew my school teachers were wrong).
Studies show that sketching and doodling improve our comprehension — and our creative thinking.
Great news for me because I’ve been a doodler forever. (Thanks Vanessa Reid for sharing the talk x)
In my mind doodling is part of a growing family of creative expressions that turn complex, technical information into art.
I wish I read more, knew more, understood more.
But as my field of interest grows, I find it hard to keep up.
Some of the stuff I need to get my head around is heavy.
Frankly, I find it difficult to stay focused on the latest repercussions of the eurozone crisis, the recent stats on the destruction of biodiversity, the latest plans for intergrated reporting.
But this information is really important.
It’s crucial that business and society can get to grips with the scale of our current problems. And that they can compute the proposed solutions.
And it’s also part of my job to absorb and translate this kind of technical information to share it with others.
So, how can we (I’m dragging you into this with me), bring ourselves to hear, see and understand things that could otherwise test our powers on concentration?
Sunni Brown, confirms my long-held justification for scribbling – that I can actually think better when I doodle.
While it’s at the abstract end, doodling is part of a spectrum, I believe, that is transforming facts, figures and technical information into things of beauty.
These processes helps us engage better and to retain what we are hearing for longer. Here are some of the most interesting visualizations I’ve come across:
Harvard Business Review described it in their September 2010 edition; Vision Statement: Tired of PowerPoint? Try This Instead.
artist Julie Stuart drew large murals depicting the participants’ discussion on 4-foot-by-8-foot sheets of paper. The goal: to help people make connections and better recall key points.
What’s super cool about this is the zoom in technology used on this graphic.
Rachel Schragis, a 25-year-old New York City-based artist created a flow-chart visualization of the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.
Click on the link above for full effect.
Data visualizations take facts, stats and data and turn them into beautiful images.
This process shot to fame in the UK when David McCanless’ published his wonderful book Information is Beautiful.
He is currently running a competition on The Guardian website -to visualize the economic crisis and win $5,000.
Perhaps our favourite Lab intern David Braid should enter? He created a series of maps as part of his MA in Innovation at Central St Martins.
Designed to make it easier to understand how the system works. You can watch his presentation at one of our innovation workshops here.
Another member of the Lab community, Jody Boehnert founder of ecolabs, has been doing some really interesting work using visualizations for sustainability.
This is a fantastic image she created to depict a steady state economy.
The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) series of animations on interesting economic, social and environmental issues.
One of my favourites is by academic David Harvey , Crisis of Capitalism.
He asks if it is time to look towards a new social order that would allow us to live within a system that really could be. Responsible, just, and humane.
Arthur Brocks Prezie New Economy, New Wealth is very cool.
He agues that we are entering a post-industrial age with a very different economy.
Prezi’s are kind of next generation PowerPoint.
Exciting, intriguing, almost 3D, they zoom in and out and can be used to share technical info and tell stories.
Arthur makes his technical topic fun.
- An interesting application is the use of word clouds in analyze the results of qualitative research.
- Stick a transcript into one and you get an accurate image of the common themes in the document. Bingo.
Check out Wordle.
Why do we need visualization?
Lets face it. Information may be beautiful sometimes, but it can also be incredible BORING!
Anyone who regularly goes to conferences, reads reports or cares about the state of the world today, can tell you that.
So if you have something really important to say, if you really need people to hear you, why not make it look so damn cool that everyone wants to listen? (or make friends with someone to show you how)