Thinking with Pictures

8 Sep

I wrote the other day that I drew a picture to help me figure out the methodology of the study and where the different sources of data fit in. Drawing pictures helps me a lot. And I’m not alone. In fact, if you do the slightest bit of reading into the literature on how we think and perceive and remember, you’ll quickly find that our brains are arranged to take in information visually almost 3 times more than our other 4 senses combined. We are visual thinkers. Sadly, though, we live in a society based much more on verbal and written communication. That might explain why we’re so confused, but I’ll resist the urge to digress onto that thought.

I’m fascinated with the topics of visual communication and visual literacy and visual note taking. I’m also really lucky to be married to someone who teaches in this field (as a subset of graphic design) and so I’m privy to a lot of great books and journals and magazines. Between Lynn’s teaching and my interest, we’ve developed quite the library.

I’ve also been lucky in that I was recently asked to speak on a panel at the upcoming “Emerging Roles Symposium” being hosted by the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association. During the panel, I’ll be talking about my role supporting eScience. There are several panels and a whole bunch of great speakers and topics. It’s going to be a terrific program and I couldn’t be more pleased to take part.

The invitation also came with another to teach a continuing education class. If you’re flying all the way across the country for a meeting, you might as well make the most of it. Of course, I said, “Sure!” Note that I said “Sure!” before ever agreeing on what I’d teach. In the back of my mind though, for a long while, had been the thought to develop a class around my interest and knowledge of visual communication, and so I proposed this to the CE Committee. The result –  Bullet Point 1, Bullet Point 2, Bullet Point 3… the Audience Flees: Visual Communication Skills for Effective Teaching and Presentations – a class that, up until I got distracted by writing this blog post, I was working on this morning.

I thought I’d merge my class prep into this post by sharing the bibliography that I’m putting together. These are just some of the books that I’m using, but it’s a great collection to get you started on getting to know this topic. When I think about the skill set needed to be an embedded librarian, I think that two of the most important skills one must have for success are creativity and  problem solving (critical thinking, analytical thought, however you might describe it). Or better put, maybe the one skill needed most by an embedded librarian is creative problem solving and one of the best ways to hone our creative problem solving skills is to practice visual thinking. So without further ado, here’s a small library to get you going (presented visually, of course):

4 Responses to “Thinking with Pictures”

  1. pfanderson September 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    I love all the pretty pics at the bottom of the post, BUT I wish there were also links and text associated with them! What about folk with moderate vision impairment, or folks reading about this with a screenreader? Just thinking … accessibility.

    • salgore September 8, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

      All good thoughts and suggestions. I tried to link each to a site with more information, but that’s not possible using the gallery feature – at least not that I could figure out. If you click on them however, the images will appear larger.

  2. pfanderson September 10, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    Aha, that explains part of what’s going on. I’ve never used the gallery feature. Just poked around a bit. It looks as if you could add the info in a comment on each image (but that’s a pain). You did a good job of giving the images descriptive file names, which show when someone enlarges the image, if you know to do so. Alternatively, you could add a bibliography to the bottom of the post. I recommend that for student bloggers because often links break later, so I ask that they either include enough info to later identify the source (like journalists do – “Smith said X in his October post on data”), or cite it in the body of the text, or add a list of sources to the bottom of the post. I make a real pest of myself about cites in blogposts, and try to get other librarians to set a good example. I try to do so myself, but sometimes it is just such a rush to get it out … Sigh. Good intentions. Yeah.

  3. margotmal September 10, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    I’m working through this in my community outreach. So far, all I see are the ways that we are not reaching patients and their families in a way that helps them engage in their health care. For me, this is the critical new direction to take.

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