White House White Board: Baby Steps in Visual Explanation

The White House recently introduced the White House White Board with a 2-minute video of Austan Goolsbee, the new Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, standing at a whiteboard explaining the differences between two competing tax proposals.

While he doesn’t actually draw anything during the video, (everything is hand drawn ahead of time,) it’s still relatively effective at showing how the two plans differ, thanks in part to some camera work zooming and panning across the board.

This is no UPS commercial, but it goes to show how effective visual thinking and visual explanation can be. And does anyone think they couldn’t draw that visual? Okay, the handwriting’s a little more legible than mine is on a whiteboard, but I could certainly draw those circles.

It will be interesting to see what else they come out with in this series. With the number of incredibly complex situations the United States and the world have been dealing with recently, I only wish they had started doing this sooner.

If you’re interested in learning more about visual thinking and the power of pictures, I highly recommend Dan Roam’s The Back of the Napkin. He also has a second book out, Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures. I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s high up on my list.

Explore New Technologies But Watch Out For Head Injuries

New technologies change the constraints we work under, enabling new activities and limiting previous ones, easing some and making others more difficult. It takes a while to realize just how much the game has changed, and this period is filled with experiments of varying degrees of success and failure. This is especially true with transformative technologies like the Apple iPhone, its cousin the iPad, and other devices that have followed in their wakes.

Karrie Fransman & Jonathan Plackett have introduced an experimental “tilt comic”, “The First Witch,” that uses the iPhone/iPad accelerometer to move around the comic panel. Here’s a video of the app in action:

I love how they’re using the technology here to push the limits of how we can experience and interact with a particular medium, in this case comics. There’s one point in the video where I cringed, however, as this experimental use of the accelerometer ran into an older navigation paradigm with potentially painful and costly consequences. If you haven’t watched the video yet, I recommend doing so before reading further. Read more