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A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...



Posts tagged "visual thinking"

Jul 06, 2014
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Christoph Niemann’s Sunday Sketches on Instagram.

These are so wonderful. Be sure to check out his book, Abstract City.

FIled under: Christoph Niemann

Feb 03, 2014
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Kathy Sierra on how she writes books:

thinkprocessnotproduct:

I write (books, non-fiction) starting w/ a storyboard. Each “cell” on the paper maps loosely to 1 page in book. I don’t “write” start-to-finish; I iterate over the “cells” adding details. The [table of contents] emerges last.

This makes me so happy. Show Your Work! in full effect.

via @seriouspony

Jul 27, 2013
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I took some apples out of a paper bag where they had been lying for a long time; I had to cut off and throw away half of many of them. Afterwards as I was copying out a sentence of mine the second half of which was bad, I at once saw it as a half-rotten apple. And that’s how it always is with me. Everything that comes my way becomes for me a picture of what I am thinking about.

Mar 27, 2013
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Bradley Campbell uses napkins to diagram the narrative structures of radio shows.

What’s cool about mapping structure like this is that the pieces are moveable. You can rearrange the parts like they’re Tinkertoys. In the Morning Edition structure, for example, you could open in a scene, then introduce two people with other views (like the lines on the right of Bradley’s napkin only on the left). Then the “V.” Then a return to the first character and the lines again. Or, maybe you start with the “V” then meet a character…. See what I mean?

Fantastic. See also: Vonnegut’s story shapes and John McPhee on structure.

Filed under: structure, storytelling

(Source: wnycradiolab)

Feb 21, 2013
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I have the pictures in my head!
Mel Brooks, convincing the studio to let him direct The Producers

Dec 18, 2012
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My friends need to stop writing so many books

I get sent a good number of books, which I love, but no matter how good they look, most of the time I don’t get around to reading them for a while. You can only imagine how guilty I feel when my friends send me books…

Wanted to call out these five books in my ever-growing To Read pile because they’d all make good gift books, they’re all by friends of mine who are super-smart visual thinkers, and they’re all either about — and/or excellent examples of — turning ideas into stories, pictures, or explanations that connect with an audience.

Check them out:

See also: 15 good books I read in 2012

Sep 22, 2012
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Don’t think, look!
— Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (via)

Aug 12, 2012
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Brian Eno draws and lectures on art and music

Wonderful talk in Moscow from 2011 about the evolution of music as a “plastic art” and the changes in art in the 20th and 21st centuries. Includes his ideas about “scenius” and “control vs. surrender.”

Having been trained at art school, Eno is also quite the visual thinker — I drew some of these ideas while listening to a radio program with him a few years ago, so it was a pleasure to him actually draw them out himself!

brian eno doodle

Watch the lecture→

Aug 26, 2011
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Aug 22, 2011
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William James’ attention exercise: “Draw a dot on a piece of paper, then pay attention to it for as long as you can.”

From Sam Anderson’s excellent, “In defense of distraction”:

James argued that the human mind can’t actually focus on the dot, or any unchanging object, for more than a few seconds at a time: It’s too hungry for variety, surprise, the adventure of the unknown. It has to refresh its attention by continually finding new aspects of the dot to focus on: subtleties of its shape, its relationship to the edges of the paper, metaphorical associations (a fly, an eye, a hole). The exercise becomes a question less of pure unwavering focus than of your ability to organize distractions around a central point. The dot, in other words, becomes only the hub of your total dot-related distraction.This is what the web-threatened punditry often fails to recognize: Focus is a paradox—it has distraction built into it. The two are symbiotic; they’re the systole and diastole of consciousness. Attention comes from the Latin “to stretch out” or “reach toward,” distraction from “to pull apart.” We need both. In their extreme forms, focus and attention may even circle back around and bleed into one other.

From James’ original text, Talks To Teachers:

From an unchanging subject the attention inevitably wanders away. You can test this by the simplest possible case of sensorial attention. Try to attend steadfastly to a dot on the paper or on the wall. You presently find that one or the other of two things has happened: either your field of vision has become blurred, so that you now see nothing distinct at all, or else you have involuntarily ceased to look at the dot in question, and are looking at something else. But, if you ask yourself successive questions about the dot,—how big it is, how far, of what shape, what shade of color, etc.; in other words, if you turn it over, if you think of it in various ways, and along with various kinds of associates,—you can keep your mind on it for a comparatively long time. This is what the genius does, in whose hands a given topic coruscates and grows.

William James’ attention exercise: “Draw a dot on a piece of paper, then pay attention to it for as long as you can.”

From Sam Anderson’s excellent, “In defense of distraction”:

James argued that the human mind can’t actually focus on the dot, or any unchanging object, for more than a few seconds at a time: It’s too hungry for variety, surprise, the adventure of the unknown. It has to refresh its attention by continually finding new aspects of the dot to focus on: subtleties of its shape, its relationship to the edges of the paper, metaphorical associations (a fly, an eye, a hole). The exercise becomes a question less of pure unwavering focus than of your ability to organize distractions around a central point. The dot, in other words, becomes only the hub of your total dot-related distraction.

This is what the web-threatened punditry often fails to recognize: Focus is a paradox—it has distraction built into it. The two are symbiotic; they’re the systole and diastole of consciousness. Attention comes from the Latin “to stretch out” or “reach toward,” distraction from “to pull apart.” We need both. In their extreme forms, focus and attention may even circle back around and bleed into one other.

From James’ original text, Talks To Teachers:

From an unchanging subject the attention inevitably wanders away. You can test this by the simplest possible case of sensorial attention. Try to attend steadfastly to a dot on the paper or on the wall. You presently find that one or the other of two things has happened: either your field of vision has become blurred, so that you now see nothing distinct at all, or else you have involuntarily ceased to look at the dot in question, and are looking at something else. But, if you ask yourself successive questions about the dot,—how big it is, how far, of what shape, what shade of color, etc.; in other words, if you turn it over, if you think of it in various ways, and along with various kinds of associates,—you can keep your mind on it for a comparatively long time. This is what the genius does, in whose hands a given topic coruscates and grows.
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