29 October 2007

Two versions of Google's master plan

Click the image to see the plan.

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21 October 2007

Back in Helsinki

I'll be back in Helsinki this week, leaving Thursday morning. Please send me an email at dave dot gray at gmail dot com if you want to connect.

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Mapping the future of conferences

Eileen Clegg of Visual Insight has posted an interesting map of the future of conferences. It's not just the map that's interesting, but you can also click on various parts of the image and listen to the dialogue that the image summarizes.

I think there's a lot of potential -- combining visuals with dialogue has always been a challenge online, and this map is a great prototype of what's possible.

I also think there are some great ideas here that we should be applying to VizThink 08.

Take a look.

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18 October 2007

Coding and decoding

Coding and decoding, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.

We code and decode information all the time -- it's part of the process of living.

Coding -- or encoding -- is the process of making a concept or idea understandable to others. It could be an email, a scrawl, a napkin sketch or a sign.

Decoding is the process of interpreting information that was coded by someone else. How many things do you think you encode or decode in a given day? How well do you code information?

Can you interpret all the codes you see above? If you can you might want to take a try at the codes in this Flickr photo set.

1. go, 2. Left, 3. CAUTION, 4. Walk, 5. Sign, 6. Crosswalk, 7. Danger, 8. Lock -->, 9. Visual language, 10. Pringles in Abu Dhabi, 11. Green light, 12. Arrow

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16 October 2007

Picturing the VizThink community

VizThink Community, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.

Tom Crawford of VizThink started a conversation by asking people to visualize the visual thinking community. There's an interesting thread of comments here and some images here.

Some of the commenters said that it's a mistake to try to segment the community. I don't know if I agree but I do think it's difficult. In my opinion visual thinking is like a lens -- it can be applied to anything.

So here's my attempt to picture the community -- it's a small sample of the visual thinkers I have met and connected with in recent months. Do you see yourself?

Links to the photos:

1. Overlap 07, 2. Overlap 07, 3. Overlap, 4. Gabe, 5. VTS, 6. VTS, 7. VTS, 8. VTS, 9. VTS, 10. VTS, 11. VTS, 12. Jeff Wilson, 13. Bill Keaggy sketching, 14. Susie Robison, 15. Drew Crowley, 16. Nick Main, 17. Overlap 07, 18. James Macanufo, 19. Overlap 07, 20. Overlap 07, 21. Overlap 07, 22. Overlap 07, 23. Overlap 07, 24. Overlap 07, 25. Overlap 07, 26. Overlap 07, 27. Overlap 07, 28. Overlap 07, 29. Overlap 07, 30. Overlap 07, 31. Overlap 07, 32. Overlap 07, 33. Overlap 07, 34. Overlap 07, 35. Overlap 07, 36. Overlap 07

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Visual thinking practice: How to draw a stick dog

stickdog, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.

One of my most popular posts, according to Google, is one I wrote some time ago about how to draw a stick figure. Recently a reader named Jade posted this comment:

"I've got the person thing going, but how would you do a dog...?"

I drew this at InkGram, a very interesting new tool by Loren Heiny. It's very new, in beta and it's still a little buggy, but very cool. And unfortunately it doesn't work in Firefox.

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My sessions at VizThink: What do YOU think?

I'll be giving a workshop at VizThink, and also a special pre-session (limited to 50 people) on the Sunday before the event. I would love to get your input about what I should cover. Here are some of my starting thoughts:

Who are we? Understanding the VizThink Community. A special workshop where several facilitators work with the group to define the community. What is the change we want to make in the world?

Visual Thinking toolkit. A tour of the visual thinking toolbox used by XPLANE consultants and designers. Part facilitation techniques, part drawing, all fun. Includes ways to engage groups and get them thinking visually, plus drawing and design tips.

Envision your Vision. Every large organization these days has a "vision statement" -- IT'S A VISION PEOPLE! In this hands-on workshop you'll learn how to develop a vision for your company, department or group -- and learn how to do it the right way: visually.

The Elements of PowerPoint Style. Take your PowerPoint to the next level. Tools, tips and tricks to make your PowerPoint clear, cool and compelling.

Goals and metrics. How to set simple but clear goals and metrics for your communication, so you can know when it's working and when it's not.

From "boxes and lines" to rich pictures. How to represent abstract ideas and concepts visually.

Visual thinking practice. Practice and coaching drawing and visualizing your ideas. Practice presenting your ideas to others.

Visual thinking tools. What are the best tools for visual thinking? Analog tools like sticky notes, software and online tools for organizing ideas, technology like digital cameras. What are some of the best ways to use the tools as part of a systematic approach to visual thinking?

PowerPoint makeovers. Bring a presentation that you want to improve. We'll break out into small groups, and each group will take a presentation, break it down into its components, and re-create the story to make it more clear, visual and compelling.

Selling visual thinking. How to explain visual thinking to "non-believers." Why they should care. Why it's important. What it can do for them. What to call it.

Engaging your organization. Getting people in your company to think and deliver ideas and content more visually. How to build alignment with brand teams on some of the unique requirements of information visualization.

Changing the world. A group session on the visual thinking community, who it is, what we can do together.

Personal action plan. How to incorporate visual thinking into your life as a daily/weekly habit. Things you can do on an ongoing basis to hone your visual thinking skills.

I want your thoughts, whether or not you plan to attend VizThink or the special pre-session.

These are just starting points. I want your feedback and ideas.

Please leave a comment and tell me what you'd like to see in visual thinking training. In your comment it would help me if you'd say whether or not you plan to attend the events.


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15 October 2007

What can visual thinking do for you?

What's the value of visual thinking? Who should go to VizThink? I speak with Rodolfo Carpintier of Baquia TV about the importance of visual thinking for strategy, clarity, and organizational alignment.

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What is VizThink?

What is visual thinking? Why should you care? Rodolfo Carpintier of Baquia TV interviews me about the visual thinking revolution and the upcoming VizThink conference.

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How to draw -- Comic strip artists' kit

I found this over at the Seven Camels blog -- it's a great 7-page quick-course in drawing comics by Disney artist and animator Carson Van Osten.

He drew these sketches in 1975 for a presentation to his boss, and they went over so well they printed 2,000 copies and sent them to all the Disney offices.

It's a clear, concise set of tips and tricks for making great comic panels and stories.

If you dare to draw, you could apply a lot of these ideas to help make your PowerPoint presentations more compelling.

Worth a look

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13 October 2007

What's the difference between theory and practice?

In theory they're the same.
In practice they're not.

(Overheard at work. Thanks Stephen!)

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05 October 2007

VizThink takes off!

VizThink, also known as Visual Thinking School, has been taking off lately. What started as a series of posts on my blog, and an informal get-together at XPLANE, has now blossomed into a series of regular events in Toronto, St. Louis, Portland and Madrid, as well as an international conference that will be kicking off this January.

To support this activity we've got several community sites going:

A Facebook group
, started by Ryan Coleman in Toronto, where you can see and contact all the people who consider themselves members of the community.

An email discussion group, where you can ask questions (For example, how to start your own Visual Thinking School), share best practices and ideas.

A group blog where you can post the results of your VizThink sessions and see what others are doing.

A Flickr group where you can post and view photos of VizThink sessions around the world.

Perhaps most exciting is the first international VizThink event which will be happening this coming January in San Francisco. I'll be doing a workshop there and there's a stellar list of presenters. I am proud to be associated with them and I hope you can join us.

It's not going to be your traditional "speakers on a podium" event. There will be plenty of hands-on workshops and opportunities for open dialogue with the speakers and other attendees.

XPLANE is a sponsor of the event and as such we can offer you a special discount of $100 off the early registration fee. Click here to register and use the code PCX01 (that's P-C-X-Zero-One).

I'd love to see people joining the email discussion group, as I think it may be one of the best ways to get a dialogue going in the community.

Join us!

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