The Power of Visual Information

Mind mapping is a powerful tool in large part because it allows us to organize information visually. Many of our widely-used communication tools are verbal– email, word processors, reports, phone communication– and we often forget the great power of visual communication. As children, we learned to understand the world visually long before we learned to communicate with language.

Mind mapping allows us to use our brain’s powerful visual processing abilities to organize information and solve problems in ways we might never have discovered otherwise.

The other day I came across a chart that truly shows the power of visual information. Inspired by the famous statistician Edward Tufte, Zach Beane at www.xach.com created a method of illustrating the box office runs of the top 25 movies in America for an entire year’s worth of time. You can check out the charts he’s made at www.xach.com/moviecharts/. The following image is from the 2011 chart:

Image

Zach’s chart communicates so much information with a single image. Moving your mouse over one of the “streams” shows the movie title and total box office gross. His choice to use different colors lets you easily see how the performance of each movie changed as the weeks pass– some movies show a slow steady growth over many weeks, while other movies start strong but begin decreasing immediately.

Can you imagine trying to gather all this information from a spreadsheet or a list of numbers? The visual presentation makes the information so much richer and more exciting. Do you have any favorite examples of visual information?

Let your visual imagination go wild while you are using MindMaple and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

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