Friday, September 26, 2008

Axes of Visual Thinking

Ok, so we chose water as our metaphor for illustrating "What is Visual Thinking" but other groups did have some interesting insights as well of course.

One was of particular interest, and entailed two axes:
Text vs. Visual and Support vs. Guide. The gliding scale between text and visual got everybody nodding. We were all agreed that text itself wasn't the great Evil we needed to battle. In essence text is visual and abstract thinking to the max: arbitrarily chosen symbols which represent sounds and images! Some situations ask for text, visual thinking isn't the Holy Grail - it has its uses, but also its limits.

More interesting however was the juxtaposition of Support versus Guide. It resonated with the discussion we had in our group: when you give somebody an image, the image because 'real' in that person's mind. This can work for you and against you. Take for instance the water metaphor our group used. It was very powerful, so powerful indeed that it was very difficult to shake it off. Everything kept coming back to water! We saw water everywhere: oceans, drops, cubes, vases, pools, thirst, drowning, swimming, sailing, rain. The image of water and its mental schemas were completely guiding our thinking. Instead of being a spring board or a support to more associations and ideas, the image became the focal point. That can be the power of visuals. But you need to ask yourself the question: do I need the visual to be a support or a guide?

Or: do I want to tantalize and trigger or focus and steer? You need to think carefully on this every time you start to use visuals and metaphors.

So, go ahead and place your mark on the spot where you need to be for your next visual thinking bout:

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