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April 21, 2008


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Thank :) Lyre.

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Hiya Dan...

KILLER book! I have two 'real world' 'jobs'.

One is as a contract Creative Director at Blue Moon in Johannesburg, South Africa. Blue Moon is an integrated internal communications company. And we do loads of stuff, including ultra-visual route maps for our clients.

The other 'job' I do is visual facilitation. I use a tablet pc to live-paint ideas in meetings. I attach the machine to a video projector, and all of my paintings are screened big in the venue.

I'm answering your point in your comment above about easy-to-use drawing software. There are three significant applications in this arena. I'll list them in order of importance to me...

ArtRage is my primary painting package. It's REALLLLLLLLLLLLY easy to use. ANYone can use it. And I really mean that. I've experimented with non-artists and old-school artists. They all take to it instantly. There's a free version (which I don't recommend, cos it doesn't allow layers, but it's great for seeing the basics of the package. It's at http://artrage.com. The full version, which is the one I use, is only US$25.

The next package I like, but haven't tested professionally yet in a visual facilitation forum is a piece of GNU-licensed open source wizardry. It's called Artweaver. Get it free at http://www.artweaver.de.

Finally, there's Alias Sketchbook Pro (which is, I think, now called Autodesk Sketchbook Pro). This is a really easy-to-use piece of software. But it's pricey. And doesn't have even half of the ease or usefulness of ArtRage.

I wholeheartedly recommend giving any of these three packages a try. They're easy to use, and they're amazing to play with.

Also, the new Wacom Cintiq is MUCH cheaper than the high-end one. It's much better than a tablet pc in that it has loads more sensitivity. Worth checking out.

And LITTLE tablet pcs such as the HP2710P and the ASUSR1 are worth looking at too.

Tablets rule!

Blue skies

PS: A disclaimer here: I have NO financial or other interest in ArtRage other than the fact that I use it professionally for my visual facilitations. It's passed many pressure tests for me, and I simply love the software.

Hi Dan, I'm down-under in Australia.
I bought your book and I'm about half way through it. I'm a cartoonist and think in pictures anyway, so seeing your book made me sit up!
Looking good so far :) great idea!

BTW: The video isn't steaming correctly and is impossible to watch on my broadband connection. Maybe a lower image quality setting might help people like me?

Good question Gagan -- in fact, how to get visual thinking and sketching into the mainstream is THE question.

There are many parts to the answer. Let's start with the technical piece:

1) We've got to get our sketches into a digital (therefore editable and shareable) format. To do this we need one of five things to 'capture' our drawings: 1) a camera (which everyone now has in their phone, although the quality usually sucks and demands a lot of Photoshop editing to make legible); 2) a scanner (highest quality but not very portable); 3) a tablet PC so that we can draw right on the screen and save the file for editing and distribution (available and great, but expensive and not yet in wide distribution); 4)'smart whiteboards' to draw on and share in real-time... but I've never met one that was worth the pain of trying to make it really work well; 5) decent PC-only digital drawing software (available but uniformly difficult for 'non-artists' to feel comfortable with).

None of these are perfect or widely adopted yet by businesspeople. So for the time-being we kind of have to push the issue: I still advocate (and use everyday) a pen on paper which I then scan in, cleanup and paste into PPT. It's simple, reliable, and everyone with a PC and PPT can look at my picture.

The other stuff will come along: truly smart boards, less expensive and more reliable tablet PCs, better 'anyone can draw' software. We're not there yet but moving in the right direction.

But that's only half the battle. The real issue is just to get more people drawing in meetings period. Although it's a bit of a cop out, I'm not too worried about getting our visual thinking to everybody across the enterprise yet. That will happen once enough people have seen the power of simple pictures to explain complex ideas.

Once people have seen what can be done -- and how they can do it themselves -- the enterprise market will respond.

- Dan

I've been back here a few times to try and see the video. nothing happens. : (

I have written about my awe of sketching…and look for ways in which sketching can be scaled up beyond a small team into corporate settings. How do you take sketches enterprise wide? Not just as pictures of the whiteboard or screenshots of your doodling on a TabletPC…..but as business documents similar to ones created in Microsoft Word, Excel, etc…or even Google Documents..where dispersed teams can review, comment and collaborate.

My experiments with Microsoft OneNote, Mindjet MindManager, Google Sketchup and Evernote’s Evernote have been great personal tools and I continue to use them in varying degrees depending on the problem at hand. Some of these tools do allow collaboration and team review….but they are not mainstream yet.

While we are making do with this level of tool sophistication, I am focused now on getting to animated sketches so that a story can be told with higher fidelity.

But the nagging doubt remains - how do I get visual thinking and sketching into the mainstream?

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