Telling stories with pictures

Craft & Design Education
Telling stories with pictures

All through World Maker Faire this last weekend the team from ImageThink—Heather Willems, Nora Herting, Virginia Montgomery, and Yao Xiao—were working to illustrate the talks as they happened on the Innovation Stage. Graphically recording what was going on in each talk, or panel, they tracked the flow of the conversation with high-speed drawing. Most people think in pictures, and listening for the metaphors in the conversation, and then illustrating them, this technique can help solidify complex ideas. It’s low tech, but high impact.

The tower of drawings from the Innovation Stage
The tower of drawings from the Innovation Stage

As the fair closed, I talked to Heather Willems about ImageThink, Maker Faire, and how she does what she does,

How do you find Maker Faire compared to other conferences?

With Maker Faire there’s a lot of new—fresh—ideas, and a strong emphasis on sharing and collaboration across generations, and that’s really exciting.

How do you do what you do without being subject matter experts?

Technology people especially are always asking this, and really—especially with technology—we’re looking for the story, the inspiration and the passion which fuels the subject. With the Raspberry Pi for instance their inspirations is sharing the technology, education and teaching kids to program. So it’s really the story we’re trying to tell, and it’s the story that’s going to help people remember their content.

Are there ever Easter Eggs in the boards?

I always try and draw my dog somewhere on every single board I draw. Yesterday they were talking about how they want to hack everything“…everything, from plants to animals.” Bam! There’s my opportunity to draw my dog. I really do it just because it makes me happy.

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Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker and tinkerer, who is spending a lot of his time thinking about the Internet of Things. In the past he has mesh networked the Moscone Center, caused a U.S. Senate hearing, and contributed to the detection of what was—at the time—the most distant object yet discovered.

View more articles by Alasdair Allan