Fw: Concept drawings? "prototypes"?

1 Feb 2005 - 9:03am
9 years ago
10 replies
598 reads
Anjali Arora, NYU
2004

This is very interesting to me too. Toward my thesis project, I am
exploring
visualization techniques, & it seems free drawing is top of the list for
coneptualizing & probably even before, freeing up the mind. It's not just
designers that practice this either, great scientists did too. Galileo,
Feynman & other scientists were extremely visual thinkers, drawing out their
ideas.

What better way to explore 'what could be'?
-Anjali

>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "David Heller" <dave at synapticburn.com>
> To: <discuss at ixdg.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2005 9:33 AM
> Subject: [ID Discuss] Concept drawings? "prototypes"?
>
>
> > [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
> >
> > http://www.wired.com/news/space/0,2697,66457,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1
> >
> > This is an article in wired.com about concept drawings for NASA and
other
> > space agencies.
> >
> > The reason I bring it here, is to point out an example of where
> > non-working-prototypes are valuable total product lifecycle process.
> >
> > The artist put it this way:
> >
> >
> > "Conceptual space art provides the initial glimpse at what could be,"
said
> > Rawlings. "It helps sell the program, it helps refine the mission
> planners'
> > sense of the mission's details, and it inspires both internal and
external
> > audiences."
> >
> > - dave
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Group!
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>

Comments

1 Feb 2005 - 9:38am
Petteri Hiisilä
2004

> This is very interesting to me too. Toward my thesis project, I am
> exploring
> visualization techniques, & it seems free drawing is top of the list for
> coneptualizing & probably even before, freeing up the mind. It's not just
> designers that practice this either, great scientists did too. Galileo,
> Feynman & other scientists were extremely visual thinkers, drawing out their
> ideas.
>
> What better way to explore 'what could be'?

Indeed. What IS the replacement for visual thinking? Afaik, that's how
the human mind works. Our thoughts are images, scenarios in the "mind's
eye". Have you heard of anybody who claims that he wouldn't think visually?

Even the most abstract ideas, like music and mathematics are understood
in a very visual manner. I'm not a scientist, but what I've read (a lot)
supports this. So does my own experience. When I play piano or guitar or
just improvise in my head, I see the notes/keys/frets in my mind. If I
hear a good song that's not mine, I remember (see the time and place)
where I first heard it and what I felt like.

Best,
Petteri

--
Petteri Hiisilä
Palveluarkkitehti / Interaction Designer /
Alma Media Interactive Oy / NWS /
+358505050123 / petteri.hiisila at almamedia.fi

"I was told there's a miracle for each day that I try"
- John Petrucci

1 Feb 2005 - 10:03am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

PH> Have you heard of anybody who claims that he wouldn't think visually?

Yes. People for whom sight has never been an option.

Assuming dominance of visual thinking in all humans, even in all
sighted humans, is heuristically driven and cognitively incorrect.

Lada

1 Feb 2005 - 10:15am
Tanya Rabourn
2004

On Tue, 1 Feb 2005, Lada Gorlenko wrote:
> PH> Have you heard of anybody who claims that he wouldn't think visually?
>
> Yes. People for whom sight has never been an option.
>
> Assuming dominance of visual thinking in all humans, even in all
> sighted humans, is heuristically driven and cognitively incorrect.

There was a good article in the New Yorker by Oliver Sacks
that discussed this:
a neurologist's notebook. the mind's eye: What the blind see
http://www.truncheon.net/newyorker/20030728_sacks.html

-Tanya

1 Feb 2005 - 10:33am
Gerard Torenvliet
2004

Petteri wrote:

> Have you heard of anybody who claims that he wouldn't think visually?

I certainly have heard of people who claim they don't think visually.
Once, when designing a set of visualizations aimed at showing trends
in data, I was chatting about those visualizations with an IT person
who was responsible for the generation of the base data. He saw the
visualization and said, "Those are great visualizations, but don't get
me wrong, I wouldn't use them. I don't think visually, but I guess
managers do. They like pretty pictures."

At first this sounded like some brash left-brain developer speak -
"Give me data, just the data" - and I do think that this is in some
way what this person meant. Still, I wasn't prepared to believe that
developers' brains were differently wired than The Rest of Us, so I
started asking why the 'pretty pictures' didn't cut it for him. As the
discussion progressed it became obvious that due to the nature of his
job, trends in data were irrelevant to him - but the constitution of
the individual data elements was very relevant. The pictures were just
pretty because they masked everything of relevance to him.

That night at my hotel I did a quick and dirty design of something
that this developer might like to see trends in - the usage of system
resources over time. I just sent it over to him, casual like, to see
what his response would be. He sent back an email saying that this
picture was really useful, and asked when it could be in the product.

Bottom line: we do think visually. We have the capability of
perceiving complex relationships quickly and efficiently via the
visual channel...

..BUT, don't throw a visualization into a product 'just because'.
Marketers love doing this, and as a result, 'chart-junk' (to borrow
Tufte's term) abounds - visualizations that were designed to look
pretty before being designed to be useful to their intended audiences.

Regards,
-Gerard

--
Gerard Torenvliet
g.torenvliet at gmail.com

1 Feb 2005 - 12:22pm
Petteri Hiisilä
2004

Lada Gorlenko wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> PH> Have you heard of anybody who claims that he wouldn't think visually?
>
> Yes. People for whom sight has never been an option.

Especially those people tend to think visually, and have a strong
feeling of geometry around them. I'm not talking so much about visual
perception (obviouslty there is none, if your blind), but visual
imagination and spatial thinking, the mind's eye, metaphorically
speaking. The article mentioned by Tanya stresses this fact. Pinker's
masterpiece talks about it too.

Eyes are not essential in imagination. Surroundings can be well
understood with other data too, but it is still imagined in the brain.
Non-visual flying is a perfect example, as is driving a submarine just
with radar.

Written scenarios use the reader's imagination to construct the scene.
Storyboards (or cartoons) do the same, but cut some corners.

I understand why the developer Gerard mentioned is confused, if he is
presented with already chewed visualization of the data. He has to form
his own mental image of the data, and it's not the same image that the
marketers have in their mind.

> Assuming dominance of visual thinking in all humans, even in all
> sighted humans, is heuristically driven and cognitively incorrect.

In this case I'd be happy to hear, what's the replacement for visual
thinking, or imagination, or mental images, that those people would use?
How many out of 100 000 people would be like that?

Just plain reasoning: Wouldn't be quite useless for evolution to develop
other means of imagination and thinking than than good understanding of
geometric shape (directions) around the organism, and the images around
the organism? And in this order. Hearing contributes to the first one.
That's how bats work.

Thus, I'm quite confident that:

1) Non-visual thinkers, if there really are any, can be considered an
edge case :)

2) If you're going to visualize anything, make sure that the images
match with the mental image that you're audience will find useful. If
the audience is diverse, create more visualizations to accommodate their
needs, or stick with written scenarios. Animations might be needed to
get closer to the real thing.

What I'm not confident, is how to imagine a complete software system,
say, Microsoft Word 2008. It's kind of a tree of screens or modes, but
not. Kind of a state map, but not. A collection of scenarios, but not
only that.

How do you folks imagine the system in your mind?

At least I need to use many separate mental tools to keep hold of the
entire behavior of the software. They're all visual, though :)

Best,
Petteri

1 Feb 2005 - 1:13pm
Lada Gorlenko
2004

>> PH> Have you heard of anybody who claims that he wouldn't think visually?
>> Yes. People for whom sight has never been an option.

PH> Especially those people tend to think visually, and have a strong
PH> feeling of geometry around them. I'm not talking so much about visual
PH> perception (obviouslty there is none, if your blind), but visual
PH> imagination and spatial thinking, the mind's eye, metaphorically
PH> speaking.

Ouch!! :-)

Let's put metaphorical thinking aside for a while, otherwise we won't
know what we are talking about. If you say "visual", it means
"visual". If you say "spatial", it means "spatial". Spatial perception
is a combination of three senses: vision, hearing, and touch (to be
precise, force feedback). There is no "mind eye", there are receptors,
neurons, and connections in the brain. "Visual thinking" of blind
people has nothing to do with spatial perception. Spatial perception
of blind is based on force feedback and acoustics.

PH> Eyes are not essential in imagination. Surroundings can be well
PH> understood with other data too, but it is still imagined in the brain.
PH> Non-visual flying is a perfect example, as is driving a submarine just
PH> with radar.

Imagination is *not* perception.

PH> In this case I'd be happy to hear, what's the replacement for visual
PH> thinking, or imagination, or mental images, that those people would use?
PH> How many out of 100 000 people would be like that?

I don't know what exactly you mean by "visual thinking", which is not
exactly usual, as you've explained earlier :-)

PH> Just plain reasoning: Wouldn't be quite useless for evolution to develop
PH> other means of imagination and thinking than than good understanding of
PH> geometric shape (directions) around the organism, and the images around
PH> the organism? And in this order. Hearing contributes to the first one.
PH> That's how bats work.

It would be quite careless of evolution *not* to develop other means
of imagination and thinking. Again, this applies to serious usage of
words "evolution" and "organism".

PH> 2) If you're going to visualize anything, make sure that the images
PH> match with the mental image that you're audience will find useful. If
PH> the audience is diverse, create more visualizations to accommodate their
PH> needs, or stick with written scenarios. Animations might be needed to
PH> get closer to the real thing.

As Dan rightfully pointed out, what do you do with "linguistic
thinking"?

If the audience is diverse, stressed visualisation will not help.
Using other means of communication might.

PH> How do you folks imagine the system in your mind?

Linguistically. I think in words, not visual images. Perceptually,
haptic feedback dominates (I draw an object shape better when follow
it with my hand than with my eye). I am sighted, and I largely
visualise not to think, but to communicate my thinking to others.

Coming back to spatial perception. If you can afford a day of your
life (say, a weekend), spend it totally blindfolded. One condition:
you do whatever you normally do, meaning you live an active life, but
with vision switched off. You need someone to help you in that,
obviously. But give it a try - I did it once many years ago, and it
was a total revelation.

Lada

1 Feb 2005 - 12:43pm
Troy Brophy
2005

Petteri Hiisilä wrote:
> Especially those people tend to think visually, and have a strong feeling
of geometry around them. I'm not talking so much about visual perception
(obviouslty there is none, if your blind), but visual imagination and
spatial thinking, the mind's eye, metaphorically speaking. The article
mentioned by Tanya stresses this fact. Pinker's masterpiece talks about it
too.
--

This makes me think of the big VRML push of the mid 90s. Some Web sites were
offering VRML-based navigation, and the consensus was that interfaces based
on VR and spatial relationships would be the next big thing because they
tapped into the way most people internalized information.

I think most of us would agree that VRML is dead and buried. But I have to
wonder if its failure to take off was due more to its aesthetic shortcomings
or lack of experience on the part of the coders behind the navigation.

I haven't seen any evidence that VR-based interfaces are under development
these days. Does anyone know if the idea of building this type of interface
has been officially panned?

Troy Brophy

1 Feb 2005 - 3:19pm
Petteri Hiisilä
2004

Lada Gorlenko wrote:
> Spatial perception
> of blind is based on force feedback and acoustics.
...
> Imagination is *not* perception.
...
> I don't know what exactly you mean by "visual thinking", which is not
> exactly usual, as you've explained earlier :-)

I agree, that you don't know what exactly I mean by visual thinking.
You'd have to work harder to understand what I mean, because my English
sucks (I'm Finnish) and there's no quick medicine for that :)

I'm *not* talking about perception ("input"), but how the mind passes
the data in and out to your consciousness. Stuff like decision making,
reasoning and imagination are largely expressed as scenarios in the
mind. I agree, that I should call this visual thinking, but how about
scenario-based thinking?-)

I'm sorry, that I can't be more specific, but a quote from Antonio
Damasio's "Emotion, Reason and Human Brain" might assist me. Page 170:

"Rationality at work

Let us begin by considering a situation which calls for a choice.
Imagine yourself as the owner of a large business, faced with a prospect
of meeting or not with a possible client who can bring valuable business
but also happens to be the arcenemy of your best friend, and proceeding
or not with a particular deal. The brain of a normal, intelligent and
educated adult reacts to the situation by rapidly creating scenarios of
possible responses /and/ related outcomes. To our consciousness, the
scenarios are made of multiple imaginary scenes, not really a smooth
film, but rather pictorial flashes of key images in those scenes, jump
cut from one frame to another, in quick juxtapositions. Examples of what
images would depict include meeting the prospective client; being seen
in the client's company by your best friend and placing the friendship
in jeopardy; not meeting with the client; loosing good business but
safeguarding the valuable friendship, and so forth. The point I want to
stress is that your mind is not a blank at the start of the reasoning
process. Rather it is replete with a diverse repertoire of images,
generated to the tune of the situation you're facing, entering and
exiting your consciousness in a show too rich for you to encompass
fully. Even in this caricature you will recognize the sort of quandary
we face most of every day. How do you resolve the impasse? How do you
sort out the questions inherent in the images before your mind's eye?"

He continues by explaining the somatic-marker hypothesis, which is
pretty convincing explanation to the problem. I wrote about it a few
days ago.

> If the audience is diverse, stressed visualisation will not help.
> Using other means of communication might.

Indeed. And by those other means you can help your audience to create a
mental model that is easy for them to handle. If you can capture it in a
visual presentation, go ahead. If you can't use other means of
communication.

> I think in words, not visual images.

Sure, but what those words are likely to be a part of a bigger scenario,
for which you're creating them. Maybe you imagine me reading your reply,
for instance. (just a wild guess)

Right now I'm reading Pinker's "Blank slate: The modern denial of human
nature". It's a fascinating journey through the innate (dis)abilities of
our heads. A brilliant book.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0142003344/qid=1107292610/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/102-0778954-7879308?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/books/tbs/reviewexcerpts.html

"Pinker's thinking and writing are first-rate; maybe even better than
that. The Blank Slate is much-needed, long overdue and—if you are
interested in what might be called the human nature wars—somewhere
between that old stand-by, required reading, and downright
indispensable. It is unlikely to change the minds of those who are
rigidly committed to the blank slate perspective, but for anyone whose
nature includes even a modicum of open-mindedness, it should prove a
revelation."

—David Barash, Human Nature Review, Oct. 14, 2002

Here's one of his lectures:
http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/23/

> Coming back to spatial perception. If you can afford a day of your
> life (say, a weekend), spend it totally blindfolded. One condition:
> you do whatever you normally do, meaning you live an active life, but
> with vision switched off. You need someone to help you in that,
> obviously. But give it a try - I did it once many years ago, and it
> was a total revelation.

Sounds interesting. Finnish winter with no-sun-at-all-days is a pretty
good simulation of living blindfolded, though :)

Best,
Petteri

--
Petteri Hiisilä
Palveluarkkitehti / Interaction Designer /
Alma Media Interactive Oy / NWS /
+358505050123 / petteri.hiisila at almamedia.fi

"I was told there's a miracle for each day that I try"
- John Petrucci

1 Feb 2005 - 3:50pm
Petteri Hiisilä
2004

> I agree, that I should * call this visual thinking, but how about
> scenario-based thinking?-)

* marks the word /not/

Best,
Petteri

2 Feb 2005 - 1:51pm
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

--- Petteri Hiisilä <petteri.hiisila at almamedia.fi> a écrit :

> Indeed. What IS the replacement for visual thinking? Afaik, that's
> how
> the human mind works. Our thoughts are images, scenarios in the
> "mind's
> eye". Have you heard of anybody who claims that he wouldn't think
> visually?
>

All the time!

In fact it has been one of my most constant sources of problems over
the years.

People who are in denial over their use of their sight (and other's
uses of sight) and/or who were born with much more developed senses of
hearing, touch, etc. than sight and/or who had the occasion to develop
their sense of hearing, touch (and other senses than sight) through
their life constitute a minority in the world's population.

But they constitute a heavy majority in fields like Computer Science,
software devlopment, mathematics, library indexing and cataloguing and
other conceptual domains. Since I have to deal with these software
guys and gals and these cataloguing librarians I am in a constant
struggle against their denial, their education and their heredity.

Up to now the only useful tool I have had in this struggle is
intellectual judo: Positioning them so that they talk themselves in a
conceptual corner where they have to admit (or even propose or give
intelligent amendments to) the necessity for given a visual solution.
Unfortunately, this only works with highly intelligent, open-minded and
talkative persons.

Alain Vaillancourt

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

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