Hi. My name is Karen Bennett, and tonight I’d like to teach you a new language! You may find it’s actually very familiar, but I hope you’ll see it in a new way, and learn to make conscious use of it. I first became aware of the power of this language in my first job out of college, at Boeing.
My assignment was to “get the mechanical engineers and electrical engineers to communicate better,” but no one told me HOW to do that. I started drawing simple block diagrams like this to help my own understanding, and when I showed them to other people, a light went on for them too – AHA!
I didn’t pursue it at the time, but over the past few years I’ve become fascinated with the idea of visual communication, and I’ve learned that there’s a simple visual alphabet that can be used to depict any subject, and communicate almost any idea. It looks like this, and is easy for anyone to learn.
But why learn a new language? What’s wrong with the one you already know? After all, you’ve spent your whole life learning it, and by now you’re pretty good at it. Well, I’ll let you decide for yourself which of the following two slides communicates more quickly.
Here’s the first slide. I’ll give you a chance to read it. When you’ve figured out what two subjects this slide is talking about, please raise your hand. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maui_County,_Hawaii
Same here – raise your hand when you know what these are. Easy, huh? Yes, I’ve shown you Wikipedia entries for roses and Maui County. As you just experienced, our brains are very efficient at processing visual input. Granted, it’s easier to show a photo or map than describe something in words. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Red_Rose_at_Intl_Test_Garden.JPG, photo by Andy Barrett http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_Hawaii_highlighting_Maui_County.svg
What about something complicated and controversial, like the whole health care debate that’s been going in Congress? Well, this kind of thing makes me wish someone would sort it out for me in simple pictures…
And someone has! Dan Roam created some short presentations analyzing the health care issue, and won a contest on Slideshare for best presentation of the year, as judged by Business Week magazine. He draws on napkins, like this one!
But you might want to draw on index cards and put them on your blog, like Jessica Hagy does. I hope this presentation will hit the sweet spot on this graph, providing just the right amount of information to minimize confusion.
This is by Hugh MacLeod, a cartoonist who draws on the back of business cards. This one is appropriate for tonight, don’t you think? Now that computers make it so easy for anyone to create and share visual media, visual literacy is an important life skill.
So, I’d like to invite you to get in touch with your inner 5 year old, like I did in this drawing, and allow him or her to draw along with me for the next few minutes. We’ll practice drawing variations of this simple visual alphabet, then put it all together with a drawing to commemorate tonight’s event. Does anyone need paper or pens?
First, let’s loosen up with a scribble. On the blank side of your paper, just scribble. Draw squiggles, or jaggy lines, draw fast, or slow, press hard or soft. Draw all over that sheet!
Now, turn your paper over, and try drawing some of the shapes in frame 1. Notice that there are straight lines and curved lines, open shapes and closed shapes. I know this space is pretty crowded on your sheet, so feel free to trace, or draw on the sides or in the margins.
Now let’s move to frame 2 and draw some lines. They can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal. They can be long, short, thick, thin, repeated, and combined to form many useful shapes.
Try drawing some of the line combinations in frame 3. Straight line shapes are useful for man-made objects, and showing order and structure, as in blueprints or process flow diagrams. Arrows show motion or direction, how to get from here to there.
Moving on to frame 4, explore the variety of curved line shapes. Curved shapes are useful for drawing natural objects, and representing unity and flow. C’mon, try it, I promise it won’t hurt!
Try drawing some of the shapes in frame 5, which combine curved and straight lines to make some familiar and useful symbols. Or look around and draw something you see, noticing how it’s made up of those simple shape elements.
Draw a map in frame 6 showing the way from your house to the Elephant Egg in Paia. First we’ll draw Maui. Mark your home with an X. Draw an elephant egg in Paia, and some arrows to show the route.
Now, when you combine the shapes of this visual alphabet with words, the language you already know, you get a new language – visual language – that can help you communicate better with anyone, from your family, to co-workers, to friends around the world.
Thank you very much for your attention and your participation! If you’d like to learn more about anything I’ve shown you tonight, there are some links and references on your handout. I’m Karen Bennett, and I’ve enjoyed sharing some ideas about visual language with you tonight.
Learning Visual Language: An essential life skill for the internet age
Lots of descriptive text Source: en.wikipedia.org The species form a group of erect shrubs, and climbing or trailing plants, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Most are native to Asia, with smaller numbers of species native to Europe, North America, and northwest Africa. Natives, cultivars and hybrids are all widely grown for their beauty and fragrance. The leaves are alternate and pinnately compound, with sharply toothed oval-shaped leaflets. The plant's fleshy edible fruit is called a rose hip. Rose plants range in size from puny, miniature roses, to climbers that can reach 20 metres in height. Species from different parts of the world easily hybridize, which has given rise to the many types of garden roses. The name rose comes from French, itself from Latin, rosa, which was borrowed from Oscan, from Greek It consists of the islands of Maui, Kahoolawe, L ā nai, Molokai (except for a portion of Molokai that comprises Kalawao County), and Molokini. As of the 2000 Census the population was 128,094 and the estimated population as of July 2006 was 141,320. The county seat is Wailuku. The Kahului–Wailuku Micropolitan Statistical Area includes all of Maui County. Maui County has a quasi-mayor-council form of municipal government. Unlike traditional municipal governments, the county government is established by the state legislature by statute and is not chartered. Executive authority is vested in the Mayor, elected by the voters on a non-partisan basis to a four-year term (with a limit of two consecutive full terms). 1 2
Links & References <ul><li>Websites </li></ul><ul><li>digitalroam.typepad.com </li></ul><ul><li>thebackofthenapkin.com </li></ul><ul><li>thisisindexed.com </li></ul><ul><li>gapingvoid.com </li></ul><ul><li>pictureitsolved.com </li></ul><ul><li>pictureitsolved.blogspot.com </li></ul><ul><li>Books </li></ul><ul><li>Dan Roam, The Back of the Napkin </li></ul><ul><li>Bob Horn, Visual Language </li></ul><ul><li>Milly Sonneman, Beyond Words </li></ul><ul><li>Mona Brookes, Drawing for Older Children and Teens </li></ul>