The whirl

The Whirl

Why visual language can help us deal with the information age.

By Dave Gray

6:00 pm
Fri, Apr 11, 2008

I talk about some of the cognitive challenges of the information age, and why visual language is an important tool for dealing with them.

As always, your comments, thoughts and feedback are much appreciated.


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  1. deathtogutenberg commented on April 12, 2008 | Permalink

    These are great…please keep them coming!

  2. ddavison commented on April 16, 2008 | Permalink

    Dave – I see a bit of Lee LeFever’s style in this video. Looking over your various video sketches i think they are really neat, but IMO a bit too long. They do represent a structure for a more polished presentation – are you planning to build one or is this style the way you prefer to get your points across?

    Somewhere I read that you believe that presentations are for conveying information – my old speech coach Bert Decker (Decker Communications) said they are all about “persuasion”. His quip ” If you don’t want to use your presentation to persuade people to take an action and all you want to do is impart information – Send them a memo!!

    Best regards


  3. tcrawford commented on April 17, 2008 | Permalink

    Hey Dave,

    In the video, you mention that “You have to read a book in a linear form”. That’s only partially true. Sometimes it’s dependent on the book type…self-help, business and text books for example often get read in seemingly random orders (or at least in an order that may only make sense to the reader). In addition, there are a great series of books known as “choose your own adventure” books. These allow the reader to select from a non-linear story, or at least not a single one mandated by the author. These books became the basis of the early role playing games and branching dialogue engines in computer games. Many of the non-linear story techniques still exist in today’s most recent and popular video games like Mass Effect.

    To be fair, the stories still end up being linear. They become linear as you, the reader, experience them. Jim Gee does a great job in his book “Why Video Games are Good for Your Soul” of talking about how the process of a non-linear (in his case, game) story combines the various possible non-linear experiences to create a completely unique linear story each time the game is played. So in a sense, the language, as experienced in your head, is still linear even though the options along the path to get there were non-linear.

    So while linear (and non-linear) books can be experienced in a non-linear fashion, in the end, the experience of the reader is necessarily linear. How’s that for circular logic. :)


  4. Dave Gray commented on April 20, 2008 | Permalink

    Good points Tom. I probably should have said “You have to read text in a linear way.” The point I was trying to make is that written text, since it’s derived from speech, creates meaning through structure in time, that is, sequence.

  5. johnm commented on July 23, 2008 | Permalink

    I enjoyed the “Whirl”, my work associate can not get the “Whirl” to play on his computer, doe he need a download?

  6. Dave Gray commented on July 23, 2008 | Permalink

    Hi Johnm,

    As far as I know, no special software is needed. You might have him try it in a different browser.


  7. passthebuck commented on February 24, 2009 | Permalink

    I loved the anaology to the driver’s license. I am working on getting my organization to communicate more visually and this example is a solid and easy-to-grasp way for people to latch onto.

    Thanks for your outstanding site and videos to help get Visual Thinking out into the world!

  8. Hector Morales commented on September 14, 2012 | Permalink

    How this phoneme is changing our way to read and see. We see a lot of images everyday that our brain is not available to processing it. Are we reading less, better or worse with a lot of media around us? What can we do or to expect? We must worry o just let be?

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