Dave Gray and Dana Smith


Visual Thinking
63 minutes, 29.2mb, recorded 2006-05-08
Dave Grey and Dana Smith

A poorly communicated concept is a missed opportunity. Visual thinking is a mode of thinking to assist with communication, like a calculator assists with math. It serves as a tool to communicate fairly difficult concepts.

We know that our short term memory is capable of holding roughly seven items, which is not really useful. Tools for conceptualizing should be able to help humans being aware of more concepts at a time. Dave Grey arguments that his idea of visual thinking utilizes a kind of universal language. Research shows that every diagram that a human draws will have 9 to 12 nodes. Another idea explored in this session is that visual thinking is a process. You can uncover things, iteratively, as you go. If many people participate in the process, diagrams that grow to 40 or 50 nodes are still well understood by every participant.

Throughout this session, the attendants build up a social network by contributing nodes that represent persons: Themselves and two or three friends that they wish were here (among those were Albert Einstein and Doug Kaye!). A node should be a sketch of the person showing some characteristics and one keyword (Dougs keyword, not surprisingly, was "podcasts"). By the time, a social network develops.

Dave Greys process of visual thinking includes two stages. First, a quiet thinking time in which participants use index cards to be clear about their own ideas. Only after that will be time for conversation to bring all ideas together.

Dave Grey is:

  • Journalist for: LA Daily News, LA Herald-Examiner, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Inventor of the Pictonics™ visual language
  • Author of Selling to the VP of NO
  • Professor at Washington University in St. Louis

Dana Smith is an Interaction Designer currently employed at XPlane. She graduated at the Savannah College of Art and Design.


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