the invisible story - The reason eludes me, but often I’ve felt the urge to write, but felt I can’t or… http://t.co/JleUo2P
The reason eludes me, but often I’ve felt the urge to write, but felt I can’t or shouldn’t or will fumble and use small uninteresting words. Who needs more to read online?! Honest.
That’s what this post is for. To be honest. To be honest, there’s an invisible story we’re all trying to visualize. We’ve seen it once, but in a way never have. “I’ll know it when I see it!,” they say. And we concept and draw and test and ask for feedback and study and give ourselves to professionalism with the coolest of indifference. The smoke over this story is a great veneer hiding the most elegant solution to our innermost desires - everyone’s! in fact. I believe, if I just delve a bit deeper into the data, the true story will emerge, the masses will indeed understand the story, visualization will triumph as the commentary of the ages, and you’ll find analysts sipping martinis on the beach wondering who they will enlighten next. It’s a romantic story. Poetic even. But who reads poetry these days anyhow? Much less, who listens to someone reading poetry. They tumble through words with considerably more elegance and insight often than this very tumble(r), yet to read online is empowering and autonomous. To sit and listen to words you could skim considerably faster is opposite every blog marketing blog will tell you:
- Make your opinion known
- Link like crazy
- Write less
- 250 Words is enough
- Make Headlines snappy
- Write with passion
- Include Bullet point lists
- Edit your post
- Make your posts easy to scan
- Be consistent with your style
- Litter the post with keywords
(I’m glad I just fulfilled requirement #7, *phew!)
My opinion (#1) is we should write what’s in our heart. If you feel an urge to write, do it. Don’t questions it’s content beyond you’re ability. Don’t freakin’ link (#2) to every other distraction the web has to offer. If there is a source worth siting to justify some findings, provide that. Don’t perpetuate every ADD inclination society so effortlessly embraces in our hunger to know more. People want a genuine point, not a repackaged version of another website (unless you’re the ad agency making millions on the innocent minded wanderings of people always searching but never finding, but that’s a different story). If you are writing something worth knowing, that is, if the work you set your mind to is to outwork a passion in your heart, there are no elegant theorems to craft it’s delivery and acceptance. To write less (#3) may make it more likely to be read, but this oversteps the importance of content. Where in that list of eleven is any inclination to writing with excellence - the length to which your topic justifies. I believe, even more than people want to move on with their day, if they set out to read and invest and hear you out, and if your writing gives them another light with which to understand that very day, there is something of beauty no bullet list can touch. That said, bullet lists are
- sometimes appropriate.
250 words (#4) are 144 + 106. They have no magic, nor tricks. If you told 255, perhaps you’ll get more geeks. I say, write the length you feel, write with honesty, be free, just speak.
Bullets (#7) are for gangs. They are akin to Edward Tufte’s regard for powerpoint:
Take a lesson from Barney Fife. It’s ok. Go watch for 1 minute. now,
nip it in the bud.
Never click on a link in a blog again (unless, the reader specifically said it complements the understanding of their work.) Bullets go off way easier than they should. If you’re communicating anything valuable, don’t rattle off a barrage of fast tickets to wisdom as if the wall you’re projecting them on never knew a covering so divine. People get hurt that way. They go back to their office, home, life and have just written down a list of things often with no generative value because it was communicated with no thoughtful context. I’ll contend that bullets are good when they are sharp, and well placed; intentional, and simple to remember, but if you’re list is longer than 2-3, you’ve killed your audience without them even caring. That’s a morality appropriate to consider. One point I will bullet is to edit (#8) one’s words, for refinement is next to godliness, and word well spoken is one true to its intention. Never take out content (including emotional content), but do relieve frivolous words for another duty. (I just edited that last sentence 3 times.) I don’t believe the point of writing is to open a grocery store. If your goal is to checkout a bag of apples, yes, make them easy to scan (#9) because their content is best utilized in your tummy. If one of your primary goals in writing is to move one quickly through the content, well, then you’re surely not serving something organic, and, in fact, you’re probably only perpetuating an investment in the faster, cheaper, bigger lifestyle with little knowledge and regard for how their mind was meant to function. Quick, pointed twuotes are titillating, but focused, intentional context to words has meaning because it comes with investment from both the writer and reader. People are born definitions. Before they even arrive, they are judged good or bad. Reputations make us, but your context is rich and truly known by God alone. Never sacrifice your unique work to fit a style (#10) save that of your Maker. His reputation is enough, engrained in you, and laborious and light all at the same time. If you’re intention is always to be the same, to put it bluntly, you are dead. You are never the same. Today, you older then you’ve ever been, experienced more than you’ll ever know, and have a reaction to the world you quite possibly never have imagined. It’s scary and tempting all at the same time to be reborn, but it’s this fullness of freeness only that should be your style. Words cannot be written by another mouth, so be no other than yourself. I don’t even know what #11 means, thank God. If you sense no door you’re to open, you’ve been given no key. No one leaves home without meaning, context, and intention to their step.
Now, my thoughts are outworked and the writing is seen. It feels good, to have written, likely the benefit most of which I’ll glean. I’ll write again, as the inclination stirs. Work is the investment; the return is natural and good where obedience is concerned. The bullet I’ve discovered at end of this writing is to obey the work you’re called to, whether writing, or designing, visualizing, speaking, or waiting. A friend read some book and passed an excellent bullet on to me:
Success is obedience.
Nope. I don’t have the source or man who spoke it first, but if it resolves some peace in your mind or soul, take it, and get to work. You’ll find something to hold onto in the end.
What do you get when you combine 350 talented informationatiers from all over the world into a cozy Minneapolis, Minnesota school campus for a few days? Lot’s of info being beautifully thrown about. But there is one particular aspect I’d like to draw attention to. I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with I / O. The rhythms of the inaugural Eyeo Festival were filled with the wonderful patterns and potential of how information can be communicated through the world’s (and particularly SparkFun’s) detection and delivery systems of inputs and outputs. To put it simply, everyone will soon have access to detect and communicate information in any way they choose. The tools are available now (Arduino, MakerBot, OpenFrameworks, and Processing were highlighted at Eyeo), but I say soon because the tools are not yet quite readily affordable or accessible with a day’s training. Still takes considerable effort to muster something original without prior experience.
What does this mean for the visualization community? There were several topics covered at the conference, but this emerging commercialization of custom information tools seemed the most unsaid. It’s simply the air you’re breathing. However, I do think the quality here is an interesting shift and a powerful one.
Visualizing data is the practice of revealing the essence or the integrity of information in truthful, compelling graphical form. Of the many variables at play here, the source data itself is paramount. At Eyeo Wes Grubbs eloquently put it, “No data; no maky”, to reenforce the fact that as visualizers we can’t visualize imaginary data. Sourcing data from inputs is nothing new. In fact, its the only way it’s ever been done. I do believe, however, new mainstream interactions will emerge. In the next few years, we’ll see more diy lego blocks available. Only, instead of 5 year olds building play houses, high-schoolers and up will be creating new real world games, tools, and environmental annotations. Explore some of these great resources and start moving towards the world you want to see. Excited to see it. Excited to keep on creating it.