David Sibbet | Visualizing
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Upon reading a George Lakoff critique of the “framing” in eco America’s new report on global warming (see recent post) I experienced a flash of insight in regard to a puzzle that’s been nagging at me since hearing Otto Scharmer talking about Theory U at a recent Thought Leader Gathering in San Francisco (see my post on Theory U). TheoryUGraphic - Thinking About Frames: Is Process a Swoop or an Arc? The graphic visualization of Theory U is what I would call a “swoop”, a compelling little visual shown here. Why did Arthur M. Young, my teacher about Process Theory, insist process should be visualized as a “turn” or “V?” as illustrated below? In our study group with Arthur we would often argue with folks who wanted to visualize it as a smooth arc rather than 90o. Thinking About Frames: Is Process a Swoop or an Arc?

This may seem like an abstract puzzle, but Lakoff’s article suggests otherwise. He states without qualification that cognitive scientists agree that “frame circuits” in the cortex and nervous system guide our sense perceptions, and that these are held in place by values. The frames that keep getting reinforced in our experience become hard wired. They become the window through which we look through when we see—the directional microphone through which we hear—the guide to what we touch and sense.

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Stuart Silverstone, graphics scout extraordinaire and author of Snippets, a digital news service of clips he provides, sent me a link to a wonderful collection of infographics. Some are copyrighted but many are under Creative Commons licenses. Thanks to Francesco Mugnai for assembling these. I especially love this one, called “Inside Dylan’s Brain.”

Dylan'sBrain - 50 Great Examples of Infographics

 

Click here to see the whole collection.

SunWheel - Visualizing SustainabilityMerc Martinelli—CEO of a new startup, Verdafero, focusing on green business.—sent me a link to an incredible website that has collected 138 illustrations of sustainability concepts. See Computing for Sustainability’s Visualizing Sustainability, a full panorama from simple to complex, mapping onto every conceivable base map. Here is a sample; visit the website for lots more.

I’ve contended for a long time that a sustainability mindset requires systems thinking, and that systems thinking requires visual thinking—even if the display is just between your ears. You can’t understand relationships if you don’t have some display structure to illustrate the elements that are in relationship. This collection is a great testimonial to that assumption.

 

Colin Ware provided the keynote at this year’s VizThink conference in San Jose and a follow-up workshop on “How Do Patterns Structure Visual Thinking.” He’s a researcher from the University of New Hampshire and quite academic, but in his talk I found validation for a growing consensus that intention is the key player in perception.

He began with an inquiry into the primary uses of visual language. I took a lot of notes, which you can read here if you click to magnify. But then he went to the findings from his research.

ColinWareJournalPage - Intention Guides Visual Perception

 

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