A Call for Visual Literacy

From Dave Gray, a call for visual literacy:

…we have, over time, become more sophisticated in our reading of visual information. In a world where information is digital, where photos can be altered in Photoshop and where films can show impossible things like dinosaurs and talking animals with a high degree of realism, we understand that seeing is no longer believing.

But this kind of visual sophistication is not literacy. Literacy is the ability to both read and write. If a child could read written language but not write it – if he could read a mathematical equation but not perform such operations himself – then we would not consider him prepared for success in the world.

In our school systems we teach our children the three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic, because we believe them to be fundamental skills for successful integration in society. But the three R’s are no longer enough. Our world is changing fast – faster than we can keep up with our historical modes of thinking and communicating. Visual literacy – the ability to both read and write visual information; the ability to learn visually; to think and solve problems in the visual domain – will, as the information revolution evolves, become a requirement for success in business and in life.

Chuck Frey sees mind mapping as an answer to this call. This may be a place to start, although the need is much broader than simply thinking visually. Data presentation and interpretation are even more important. (I, for one, don’t remember ever encountering a histogram in high school.)

Should Tufte (or the like) become required reading in secondary education? What would be the actual result of implementing “visual literacy education” in our schools?

MacBook as an accelerometer

On a recent bus ride from work to the Vienna Metro station, I noticed the ride was rather rough and decided to take a closer look. Using SeisMac, a tool that uses my MacBook’s sudden motion sensor to take motion measurements, I recorded some key parts of the ride.

Because the computer was on my lap, the Y axis served as a crude accelerometer; when the bus accelerated, the front of the bus was raised a little (and I was therefore pitched back a little, causing the Y-axis reading to increase), and when the bus slowed down I was pitched forward, causing the Y-axis reading to decrease.

Exhibit 1: I-66

Getting on I-66, we began accelerating significantly at about 6:17:25. We hit traffic pretty abruptly and slowed down at 6:17:45, and then hit some rough potholes around :53 (see the Z-axis)…


Exhibit 2: Vienna Metro

Exiting I-66 to pull into the Vienna Metro station:


At 6:22:29, the bus was in a 3-way-stop traffic pattern at the Metro station (note how I was so violently pitched forward and backward). About 6:22:42, the bus made its final acceleration before letting the speed bleed off, coasting into its spot at the station.

Note: I originally posted this at livandan.com


Jobfox provides some interesting offerings in the career marketing/job hunting field.  Unlike the traditional resume board model pioneered by Monster and others, Jobfox attempts to create more holistic profiles of both job seekers and employers, then provides opportunity matches that may be a better fit.

During the profile creation process, Jobfox leads users through specific areas of job experience as well as a host of employment-related preferences, from dress code to specific preferred benefits.

For me, answering the step-by-step questionnaires was valuable; the process helped me identify some skills that I had never specifically noted. Once complete, users end up with a personal profile page as well as an “inbox”, where you can see job matches that are the closest fit to your preferences, experience, requirements, etc.

One particularly interesting feature of your Jobfox profile page is an ‘experience map’, which displays your areas of experience and expertise in a mind map-like visualization.

Notably absent from Jobfox are any networking features. I guess I’ll hang on to LinkedIn for networking, recommendations, etc.

To see my Jobfox page, click here: http://www.jobfox.com/people/danbyler