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Sunni Brown

Author, Chief Infodoodler, sunnibrown.com


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Why is visual literacy discouraged in most cultures & WHAT CAN WE DO to change that?

This LIVE CONVERSATION will open at 1PM ET/ 10AM PT on Monday, October 31th! Join me!

Visual literacy, if described as the ability to communicate via doodling, drawing, and sketching or described as the ability to display complex information in visual language formats, is often a literacy missing in adults despite it being a universal and natural inclination in children. Why does it disappear? And more importantly, what can we do to alter this course?

**ADMIN UPDATE: Sunni Brown has asked to extend her Conversation for two weeks. She will be jumping in to catch up with responses over the next two weeks. Happy posting everyone!


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    Oct 31 2011: WHY: Maybe because it is regarded as "caveman like" and when early colonizers thought of it as uncivilized.
    WHAT CAN WE DO: Listen and draw more. Read and write less.
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      Oct 31 2011: Hmmm...maybe we can blame the Puritans...prioritizing reading the Bible versus seeing/sensing the world (and inviting temptation via the eyes)? That would be my armchair anthropologist guess.

      Or maybe back to the Enlightenment and it's favor of reason...or the Renaissance perhaps...
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        Oct 31 2011: They forgot about how effective story telling is especially with pictures.

        Meditating on the Bible is a very creative process and definitely a right brain function just like doodling, drawing, and sketching.
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          Oct 31 2011: True. Thinking of cathedral stained glass panels...
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      Oct 31 2011: There is definitely a bias against visual language (a phenomenon I'm still researching) and yes, I think much of that bias was a result of the construction and distribution of written language. Being able to read and write was often a function of one's class in society, so the "peasants" relied on pictures and the intelligentsia had "evolved." But moving away from images and toward words is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They're BOTH incredibly valuable and they serve different functions. I want to live in a society that honors as much of human intelligence (emotional and intellectual) as is available to us.
      • Oct 31 2011: Now that you have brought up the issue of literature, I am thinking of the wonderful invention of moveable type, and how much easier printing became. Have you tracked a decline in visual representations that corresponds to the use of moveable type and the movement away from wood block prints? Today, of course, as in this conversation, we type. My own illiteracy prevents me from using a drawing. However, the computer I type on is perfectly capable of transmitting and printing drawings.
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        Oct 31 2011: You may want to consider personality profiles because I've observed that most people with dominant personalities prefer to read and write.
      • Oct 31 2011: I don't believe there is a bias against visual language. What I think is missing is the real-time unfolding of a line, a shape, an arrow, a bubble, a series of dots, a squaring, etc. that should accompany the drawing or illustration. Technology isn't there yet.

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