Monday, March 2, 2009

VizThink 09 Day 2 Quick Summary

Finally back home after family visit following VizThink in San Jose. Day 2 was a heavy hitter, packed with content from the start. The morning kicked off with general session, featuring some sponsor presentations followed by Ole Qvist-Sorensen presentation, Survival Academy: Imagining a Better World with Visual Language, Thinking and Practice. Ole asked us how we as visual thinkers could contribute to saving the world by putting our talents to work on global problems. He inspired me to get involved so I'm planning to get in touch with to see about producing some online visual explanations (videos or SlideShare presentations) to spotlight issues like Sylvia Earle's TED wish ("I wish you would use all means at your disposal -- films! expeditions! the web! more! -- to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.")

My choice for Tuesday morning breakout was Luke Wroblewski's Visual Communication for the Web. Luke has been a recognized leader on websites for years and having read both his books, I was really looking forward to this session. Luke's main takeaway was using a visual hierarchy to improve the communication value of a website. Visual hierarchy the main desired call for action on a page - you should deliberately prioritize visual weight using relationships to give meaning. I only sketched a quick mind map of the basic concepts, since he had so much material and went through it so fast. We examined and analyzed several before and after examples to highlight the basic principles. Hopefully Luke will post his presentation soon and I can link to it here.

Tuesday afternoon was another big influencer in the visual thinking world - Nancy Duarte. I recently finished Nancy's book, Slideology and I was looking forward to learning from another visual thinking master. This was a fantastic and fun session focused on Nancy's new methodology for developing compelling stories for presentations. Great theory combined with some fun hands-on exercises and some exemplary storytelling and a take home template for developing stories for presentations. Looking forward to putting it to use in developing online visual explanations.

Tuesday afternoon's general session was replaced by the snapshot sessions. Personally I thought these little mini sessions were a great idea. They gave everyone a chance to pick 4 out of 9 20 minute sessions. Very quick and very focused. I kicked off with Craig Berman's Collaborative Storyboarding, followed by Doug Ranahan's Beyond Fluff - Data Visualization for Business, then Ron Gould's VizThinking Marketing Strategy.

By the end of the day I was pretty saturated with information and starving for some good food and down time to let things soak in and process. Karen and I popped into Mezcal for a great alternative to mexican food - featuring Oaxacan cuisine. Mmmmmm!

Overall another succesful, inspiring day at VizThink. Great job everyone!

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