Stephen P. Anderson

“Place in Space (AKA “How to Design A Concept Model”)”

Session Summary

“How do you create a concept model?”

It’s a simple question without a simple answer. As wranglers of information, we routinely create visual artifacts to make sense of difficult subjects. Think service blueprints. Site maps. Clusters of sticky notes on walls. Venn diagrams. These are all external representations created to organize our understanding—concept models. And in team settings, these models allow us to communicate and collaborate; master these visual thinking skills and you can effectively frame the conversation. For as long as we’ve organized things into stacks (“my pile, your pile”) or into some continuum (letterforms carved into a clay tablet, sorting kids by height), we’ve used the *spatial* arrangement of things to assign meaning. Consciously or not, we’re tapping into a powerful visual language to help us and others understand difficult concepts. But, what is this language we’re using? And can it be taught?

In this session, speaker and author Stephen P. Anderson will share the fundamental elements behind every visual representation. Much like there’s a grammar behind the written word, there’s a grammar behind the visual display of information; once understood, you can easily create clear and concise visual representations of thought.

Best of all, this same approach extends into other kinds of external representations, such as custom data visualizations or novel interfaces. And, as we move into a connected world, where information is distributed into the physical environments around us, we can prepare now by having a fundamental vocabulary to describe this arrangement of information.

Whether on the page or screen, or in the physical space around us, understanding how to derive (and convey) meaning through the arrangement of information is and will become an essential skill for anyone designing information.

Stephen P. Anderson –@stephenanderson

Stephen P. Anderson is the Chief Experience Officer at BloomBoard, where he is transforming how teachers grow as professionals. A former high school teacher, Stephen continues to challenge and inspire people as an international speaker; he’s presented at some of the world’s largest organizations, teaching product teams about interactive visualizations, emotional design, and other fun topics.

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