While at VizThink, I had the pleasure of seeing Christine Martell in action. Christine is a facilitator who uses photographs to initiative and inspire conversations about a specific organizational challenge and uses the data from her exercises to uncover patterns and assumptions.
At VizThink the first general session of the 2nd day was to use a few different techniques, including Christine’s, to help a not-for-profit called Artrain work through some of their issues. The results of the exercise are posted on Christine’s blog. Very cool stuff! Check it out.
The very first VizThink Conference was held in San Francisco at the end of January. It brought together a community of people who like to “Think Visually”. Obviously this is a very broad term with no clear definition. The risk of keeping it broad like that is that it invites a bunch of people who end up have nothing in common and the whole event is unsatisfying for everyone.
The opposite happened.
Attendees included graphic facilitators, illustrators, infographic creators, photographers, comic artists, teachers, professors, people who like to doodle, mindmappers and on and on and on. There was just enough of a “like mindedness” among the participants that we knew we had something in common, but we weren’t all the same. I’m sure you’ve been to conferences where you recognize 80% of the people and you’ve seen 90% of the talks. Not at VizThink. It was the best conference I’ve ever attended. I would introduce myself to people and 9 times out of 10 would be fascinated by what they were doing and how they were incorporating visual expression in their work.
I went because I was invited to lead one of the workshops, but there were so many good talks going on I had a really hard time deciding which ones to attend. I was almost inclined to leave my slides and some instructions at my own workshop and go check out Scott McCloud’s workshop.
Another workshop that was going on at the same time as mine was by Ryan Coleman. He talked about how to get VizThink communities going on in your own town. He’s successfully put on five of them, and he’s planning a sixth! Here’s the Facebook event, or the wiki page.
If you have a chance to attend VizThink Europe or the next one in North America, you should definitely check it out.
Curious to hear your thoughts on what makes for a great conference. Is it the attendees? The speakers? The food?