VizThink Wrap-up: Building Visual Thinking Communities

Source: Brandy Agerbeck,

Just to close the loop on the VizThink wrap-up I wanted to take a quick look back at the session I facilitated on the Tuesday afternoon.

Free Beer
Needless to say, as the schedule emerged, I was nervous that no one would show up. The first draft of the schedule had me presenting in the same time slot as not just cartoonist Scott McCloud but also Dave Gray (Dave was thankfully moved to the morning session)… when I combined that with the fact their were 8 sessions running at a time I got very, very nervous. I jokingly asked Tom Crawford if he could add ***FREE BEER*** to my session title in hopes of drumming up some interest.

What I hadn’t factored on was the apparent desire that people have for community in the Visual Thinking space and was pleasantly surprised when roughly 30 people showed up.

The Presentation
The title, “Building Visual Thinking Communities”, is pretty self explanatory… Just to delve a little deeper what I specifically talked about were; some of my thoughts on community, my experience with VizThink Toronto and finally my recommendations & suggestions for people running their own event.

I’ve uploaded the deck to slideshare or you can view it embedded below:

During the session I included three interactive components. The first two were related where I had everyone pair up, interview each other, and then make a mind map of the other person. In the second component I had the pairs group up (8-10 people) around tables and then introduce their partner to the group.

The third component I deliberately saved for the very end of the session. Selfishly – it could be easily stretched or condensed to fill the time left in the session but from a community point of view I wanted to get participants to start thinking about what they could teach the community at their own. The premise was simple. Take an index card, write your name on it, your city/region and finally a one-liner describing something you could teach at a VizThink session.

Truth be told I wasn’t sure how this exercise would play out. It couldn’t really go horribly wrong but it also wasn’t guaranteed to generate the results I hoped for.

In the end though, I shouldn’t have been concerned. Everyone had an idea and many had two, three and even four ideas! And they were all good.

All in all I think the session was a success. I had a great time facilitating it, and I got the impression the group was enjoying it as well.

Immediately afterwards a few people came up to me and indicated they were interested in getting VizThink evenings running in their community.

Emerging Community
As of today I’ve got the following cities where there are people organizing, or interested in organizing VizThink evenings:

Atlanta, GA
London, England
Seattle, WA
Mountain View, CA
Chicago, IL
New York, NY
Austin, TX

(Edit: Forgot New York! Edit2: Got some interest expressed from Austin too!)

Active VizThink communities are already underway in:

St. Louis

Yes, that’s 11 cities listed above! It’s crazy to think that it hasn’t even been a year since the first VizThink event here in Toronto and now it’s on the verge of truly going global.

If you’re in or near any of these cities please drop me a line and I’ll be happy to hook you up. I’m also in the process of setting up a Cities section on the VizThink wiki where I’ll create a page for each city and a space for people to express interest in organizing or attending.

If your city isn’t listed but you’re interested get in touch with me as well. I’m happy to create a page that will let people express interest in your community as well, and hopefully get something.

I’ll be posting any upcoming events I know about here on this blog so definitely subscribe if you’re interested. (Watch for a London announcement soon). If you’re new to this blog also be sure to check out my Photo Blog.

All the various means of getting in touch with me are in the last slide of the embedded slide deck above. You can also find me at the following sites: LinkedIN, Facebook, Plaxo, VizThink Wiki, Flickr.