- [Instructor] In this video, we're going to talk about the analog part of data visualization, and by that, mostly I'm talking about sketches and wireframes. How to capture your ideas in their most basic form before you start really doing your hard design work. Let me start off by saying that I am a computer guy. I spend 99% of my time in front of my computer, and I'm not a Luddite, I'm not against technology by any stretch of the imagination, that's really all I do, is technology. But with that being said, I will say that when I'm starting doing visualization, I always start with a pen and paper or a whiteboard, and I'm going to try to articulate in this video why.
In some cases, I'm not entirely sure, but I am totally sure that it's very important to do so. And by the way, I'm going to take a half a step back from saying it has to be pen and paper, a whiteboard. I use an iPad quite frequently these days also, but it's really more about using it in a very analog way, and I'll explain more in a second. There are really four reasons why to go in an analog way, and it really boils down to speed, flexibility, scale, and getting a good body-mind connection going. And let's start off by talking a little bit about speed. So, I'm going to go through some examples here, and as you're going to see, these aren't the prettiest examples in the world, but the fact of the matter is that when I'm trying to sketch a concept, I can move so quickly when I'm using pen and paper or a whiteboard that I just couldn't even come close to matching on a computer.
I don't have to fight with a mouse and opening up different software packages or trying to figure out Bezier curves or any other thing to make software to do my bidding. It's just quick sketching on a whiteboard or pen and paper. The quality isn't always the best in the world, but I can get to ideas and iterate on things in multiple ways very, very quickly. And eventually, I can get to ideas that are worth pursuing. Now, the other thing is that I can even experiment by drawing right on top of things, drawing in the margins of paper. And again, it's not that you can't do this in software, it just takes longer to actually create a layer, move things over, select and drag, et cetera.
It's so much faster when you're working in an analog way. The next one is flexibility, and the fact of the matter is that I can push the envelope without really having to know how I'm going to figure it out technically. So, again, I mentioned before, Bezier curves. I can experiment with different shapes and ideas without having to figure out how to draw it or how I'm going to program it, especially, very quickly with analog tools. I can whip up these concepts so fast and easily. I don't have to worry about how I'm going to code it. The idea is to get these ideas down quickly and ignore the feasibility.
It's really just sort of wild brainstorming at this phase. I also don't have to create the layers in Photoshop and label things and fight with the different tools, text tools versus drawing tools. And I don't have to worry about aligning things properly. Great example is something like this where I knew I wanted to create columns of things, and I just need to sort of quickly sketch out the idea that there's columns and rows and I don't have to worry about it being perfect, even remotely close to perfect. The temporary nature of the medium really serves the goals very well. I can also do things like this where I can mock up opacity.
So, I can show that the blue with more texture in it is sort of stronger versus the ones with the little dots. And again, I can do that in Photoshop, I can do that in other tools, but it just takes more time and more effort, believe it or not. The next advantage to analog is scale. I like to draw large, and when I'm working on a giant piece of paper or a whiteboard, I don't end up with an 8-1/2-by-11 or 1024-by-768 pixel thing, I end up with a three-foot long and wide giant drawing.
And again, sometimes this is probably one of those examples where I'm not entirely sure why this helps, but I really like the feeling of being able to draw something big, step back from it, get sort of a big picture view, zoom back in on it by stepping closer and working on the details. It's hard to articulate the value of this one, but I really appreciate scale. Sometimes I'll take an entire whiteboard in my office and draw multiple ideas around and near each other. The little arrows between them to show clicks, something that you just couldn't do on a small screen or a small piece of paper.
And the last one is what I refer to as a body-mind connection. So, I'm not going to go all Zen on you, maybe I am, a little bit, but there really is something magical about the physicality of drawing with pencil and paper or even on a whiteboard. It's about taking an abstract idea and making a very sensory, visual experience out of it. Taking the metaphysical and making it physical. My theory is that it's much more satisfying when you brainstorm physically that way, and also, I think I connect better with what I'm trying to actually accomplish when it's a physical process.
All of me gets involved, not just my brain. So, the first P.S. I would add is that I'm sure a lot of the members would say, yeah, but I can't draw, and I would just ask you to remember about 30 seconds ago when I was showing all of my drawings and how terrible they were. I can't draw either. Okay, I can barely draw a straight line. I couldn't draw my way out of a paper bag, really, but it's not about drawing and the quality of your drawing, it's about brainstorming, brainstorming visually, capturing an idea, and anyone can do that. The fact is that we're all, by nature, we're able to communicate visually, we have that capacity.
Some can do it in a little more refined and detailed and photorealistic way than others, but that's really just not what's important. And the second P.P.S. I would add is that it really doesn't have to be analog. Like I said, I use an iPad quick frequently these days. The old tools aren't necessarily better, right? Like, if we had to write everything with a chisel into granite, that would not be good, but modern tools are very helpful, but I recommend, like I said, using them in a very analog way. Get physical with it, use a pen and a tablet if you have access to that.
The point is to use analog methods because they're natural and they reduce the layers of things between you and your idea. And you can move quickly, you can bring your body into it, you can generate as many ideas as you can and just refine them from there, even if you are working digitally, once you have captured the initial idea. Do what's comfortable for you and you can't go wrong.
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