Amy Herman visited Google's office in Cambridge, MA to discuss her book "Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life".
In her seminar, the Art of Perception, Herman has trained experts from many fields how to perceive and communicate better. By showing people how to look closely at images, she helps them hone their “visual intelligence,” a set of skills we all possess but few of us know how to use properly.
Flowcharts are the ideal diagrams for visually representing business processes. For example, if you need to show the flow of a custom-order process through various departments within your organization, you can use a flowchart. This paper provides a visual representation of basic flowchart symbols and their proposed use in communicating the structure of a well-developed web site, as well as their correlation in developing on-line instructional projects.
The most useful studies related to visual thinking are actually not using much illustration or visuals in the literal sense. Instead they approach it from the space of cognitive linguistics (and cognitive semiotics, which was one of the disciplines I studied) where language is seen as a window into how the brain and mind works.
For many people—particularly young people—the intricacies of personal finance and Wall Street can be very intimidating. How do you help young people figure out and understand finance, in a simple, easy to understand format? Los Angeles-based Napkin Finance (www.napkinfinance.com) has figured it out, with a series of very visual, highly engaging “napkins”, which explain, in a graphical way, many of the principles and basics of personal finance.
When we show students how to take notes, we prioritize outsiders’ ability to look at the notes later and understand what was said. But as someone who takes notes for other people professionally, I can tell you two things that are wrong with this approach. First, it’s really difficult to take notes so that they are clear to other people. And second, that’s not the best way to understand and remember information.
MIT Media Lab, in partnership with Deloitte and the data visualization startup Datawheel, has just gone live with perhaps the most extensive tool ever created for mining and visualizing US government open data, called Data USA.
Kurt Vonnegut developed his theory of the “simple shapes of stories” while a master’s student in anthropology at the University of Chicago. He argued these shapes are straightforward enough to feed into computers. His thesis was rejected for being “just fun” and he left school degree-less, but the concept stands. He was given his master’s degree over a decade later using his novel Cat’s Cradle as a thesis paper, and his works such as the book Slaughterhouse-Five, attest to his legendary skills as an author.
Stick figures help tie your notes to the human experience. They make it clearer how the ideas that you’re capturing relate to you and others.
They also help you to capture stories in a memorable way. Stick figures are characters in the snapshot story that you can tell in your notes. Add in a few more images of what your character is interacting with and soon you’ll have a visual anchor to the set of ideas you’re working with.
In stick figures we see ourself and we see others. Even in this simplified version, the drawing of human beings allows the viewer the opportunity to enter the story you’re telling because they can see themselves in it.
What neurologists, artists, and designers know can work for you, too. Why do creatives turn to sketching during the ideation phase of a project? It is a quick way to articulate a concept and it stimulates cross-cognitive brain function. In other words, drawing out your ideas leads to a deeper understanding of a problem and faster decision-making.
When information is laid out visually for example on a big wall poster, you can often integrate the details into a bigger picture, in a way that allows the reader to seamlessly swap between the macro and micro view. When looking at the whole, the eye is still able to perceive visual clues about the details. And when shifting focus to the details, the peripheral vision still allows the eye to absorb the details in their context.
What do you do when you need to commit some sort of information to memory?
Let me guess, you take notes.
It's a habit most of us learned way back in school when some teacher stuck her lecture notes up on an overhead projector and we dutifully copied them down. Most of us take it with us into adulthood. Walk into a sales training or an important presentation and you'll find attentive audience members hard at work scribbling out (or frantically typing) the speaker's key points.
But according to a new study they might do better if they instead came armed with a box of crayons.
If you need help jogging your memory, you might try your hand at drawing. A recent study found that we remember items better when we draw them rather than write them down.
In a study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers conducted a series of experiments asking subjects to draw or write down different items. Overall, the study found that subjects were better able to recall the items when they drew them.
What the research says is that the brain does process information in different ways, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that a “visual learner” can’t learn by listening, or even that they’ll learn poorly. There is precious little research that says a student will learn ‘more’ if taught ‘their way’–especially if all students are ultimately assessed the same way in the end.
But that doesn’t mean that learning modalities aren’t real. Processing new information in different ways has different effects on how we understand that information. We might benefit from seeing something first, then touching it next, then listening to someone explain it, then seeing it again, and so on. It’s not a linear process.
Mind mapping software is a powerful tool for savvy executives who want to improve their creativity, impact and effectiveness in their work. No software tool is better suited to help you think deeply about your work and to increase the value of your contributions to others in your organization.
People who don’t think visually often have a hard time imagining the mental lives of those who do. By thinking, I mean conscious planning, problem-solving, imagining, and reminiscing. Most mental processes occur subconsciously, but my research focuses on the lived experience of thought that varies from one person to another.
Half the human brain is dedicated to the task of attaching meaning to visual signals, and we've been underusing it. But now it's time for pictures to have their day, as simple text struggles to interpret the huge amounts of data we ingest daily
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