Recommended Reading for August 31st

Here are some recent posts, sites or articles I’ve found worth a read – you might enjoy them too:

Have suggestions or comments? Leave them below!

Recommended Reading for August 24th

Here are some recent posts, sites or articles I’ve found worth a read – you might enjoy them too:

Have suggestions or comments? Leave them below!

Speaking at the Canadian Association of Journalists’ “Innovate News” conference

VizThinkSF08-9474.jpg

This upcoming weekend, on January 30th, I’ll be speaking at the Innovate News conference at MaRS. The conference is put on by Canadian Association of Journalists and the CAJ Education Fund.

“The Canadian Association of Journalists and the CAJ Education Foundation are kicking off the decade with a groundbreaking conference where news staff and management can learn about emerging techniques, technologies and models to transform journalism for the 21st century. The conference focuses on skills, strategies and tactics that journalists and their organizations can start implementing immediately.”

I’m quite excited as they’ve got a few visually oriented people on the speaker list. Personally, I’ll be talking about visual thinking techniques that can be used to help gather and organize information, develop the story, and even tips on recognizing opportunities where using a visual or information graphic as the final product will improve the effectiveness, or clarity of a story.

Other speakers include:

  • Jim Brady, president, digital strategy, Allbritton Communications; former executive editor of WashingtonPost.com
  • Bill Buxton, principal researcher, Microsoft Research
  • John Cruickshank, publisher, Toronto Star
  • Michael Lee, chief strategy officer, Rogers
  • Patrick Lor, president, Fotolia North America
  • Rachel Nixon, director of digital media, CBC News
  • Kenny Yum, editor, GlobeandMail.com

Full details for the conference can be found here, it looks like a really interesting day of content.

Visually Exploring the idea of “Personal Brand”

I know, I know – half of you clicking through just cringed when you read the term “personal brand” – I’m not a fan of the term either, but up until now I’ve been hard pressed to find a term that summed the concept up better. Also, I’m approaching this thought exercise not from the notion that you can directly control or shape a ‘brand’ for yourself but rather trying to understand what the underpinnings of the concept are and how  someone can ensure they’re putting the right foundation out there for people to build their own impressions, and thus your “brand” on.

For the specialists of the world I’m not sure this is as big an issue, but I think a lot of generalists (like me) struggle with it. As I’ve pondered on my blog in the past here, it’s not always clear to me exactly what it is I do, and if it’s not clear to me I can only imagine how messy it gets when other people try to form opinions or thoughts about what it is I do.

Anatomy of a Personal Brand: Attempt 1

I took a first stab at creating a model in my trusty sketchbook the other day and came up with this:

Anatomy of Personal Brand

Ultimately as I dug into the visual though and tried to create a more refined version I realized what I was drawing here was actually more a representation about how individuals form opinions about you and didn’t speak at all to how the greater collective opinion (a.k.a “Personal Brand”) got formed.  So, instead, I moved away from this circular idea and tried approaching this from the bottom up.

Anatomy of a Personal Brand: Attempt 2

Formation of Collective Reputation
(Click to enlarge | Hosted on Flickr)

For this visual I started at the bottom, the foundation – Facts & Fictions. Everyone’s opinion is based on their perceptions of impressions of the baseline facts and/or fictions available to them. Perceptions are the intuitive feelings people get – gut feeling, sensing, etc. whereas Impressions represent the interpretive side, where someone makes deliberate judgments based on the ‘evidence’ before them. Both perceptions and impressions can influence each other and they roll up to form the individual’s opinion, which in turn gets added to a Collective Reputation based on the individual opinions of the masses.

Context is Everything

As with most things, context with everything – we don’t have one single collective reputation. Your collective reputation will change depending on the lens you’re being viewed through – i.e. Your collective reputation in the context of “Trustworthy” might be dramatically different from that of the context of “Can Fix Cars”. That said, the contexts are not exclusive, if I’m considering who I want to have fix my car I would consider both “Trustworthy” and “Can Fix Cars” in making both my decisions (and if you screw up my car or screw me on the bill both could be affected).

Individuals Weight the Collective Reputation

Also, there’s no standard “reputation” for any context – each collective reputation is formed by the individual’s networks and their opinions of the individual people who make up that network. For example, if my view of the collective reputation of person X is that he’s not very trustworthy then I’m not going to weight his opinion of Person Y as highly as I would someone else more trustworthy.

Facts, Not fiction

Facts & Fictions are the only place you have any control and even then, you only have the power to create new facts or fictions. Fictions are unsustainable though and will ultimately lead to negative Facts being created, and you can’t ‘delete’ those.

Feedback Wanted

All in all, I’m happy with where this visual is headed – I think there’s a few other visuals that can do with some exploring as well including; context, weighting & how you go about evaluating and improving on the collective reputations you have today.

I also like the emergence of the term “Collective Reputation” – I’m not 100% sure it’s the perfect terminology but it sure sounds a whole lot better than personal brand.

What are you thoughts or comments? Share them below.

Interviewed for VizThink Issue of “Associations Now”

A few months ago myself, Sunni Brown (VizThink Austin) and Mike Rohde (VizThink Milwaukee) were interviewed for an article on visual thinking called “Are you a visual thinker?“. It ran in Associations Now Magazine, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives & The Center for for Association Leadership. At the time I thought it would just be a little piece in one of the back pages of the magazine but it turns out they had bigger plans and ran it as the cover story.

In fact, they went the extra step further and hired Mike Rohde to design the cover and provide illustrations for the article. The end result was a fantastic looking piece that exposed the idea of visual thinking to a whole new audience. Mike did a great write-up over on his blog about his process in creating the illustrations which is worth a read.

Of course if you truly want to learn from the masters, both Sunni & Mike (along with Austin Kleon) recently recorded a, very well received, VizThinkU workshop with VizThink called Visual Note-taking 101 where they share their secrets and advice for producing excellent visual notes.

I have to admit too that I was pretty stoked to get my first block quote in an article. Having it hand drawn by someone I’d call a friend makes it that much sweeter.

Overall the article turned out far better than I ever imagined – be sure to give it a read, as well as Mike’s blog post & the VizThinkU session. Thanks to Associations Now and especially Mark Athitakis, who penned the article.

– Ryan

All Photos by Mike Rohde, Rohdesign.com