Scott McCloud's classic book Understanding Comics had long been in my mind when I decided to write my own book on visual thinking. Although I don't agree with everything in his approach (and suspect Scott probably doesn't agree with everything in mine), I admire tremendously his genius in understanding how we process visual stories, and his ability to tell stories with pictures. When it comes to communicating with images, Scott is a god.
As of yesterday, Google clearly agrees.
Google announced the Beta launch of Chrome, their new open-source web browser. Sort of aimed at Firefox, but clearly targeting Microsoft's territory, Chrome in theory represents a new concept in how we will browse the web. More importantly, Chrome (again, in theory) represents a new concept in how our computers will themselves talk with the web.
I emphasize "theory" here because superficially Chrome doesn't seem to do a whole lot more than existing browsers do. (I've been testing it all day and mainly notice its drawbacks -- like the fact that in Chrome my Typepad interface shows only raw HTML code. Yuck: back to Firefox folks.)
But here's where things get interesting. Because the important nuances of Chrome lie in the guts and technical details of how it was designed and built, a lay person like me is unlikely to get right away what makes it so great.
And that's where Scott's genius enters the picture. Google hired Scott to create an entire comic book explaining Chrome's inner workings. Not only is the comic lovely, after reading it I now for the first time understand what the heck a browser really does.
Proving once again the power of a simple picture to clarify a complex concept. Thank you Google. And thank YOU Scott!