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Introduction to Diagrams

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Project Description

Diagrams are everywhere — from the established conventions of highway signs to the newly emerging visualizations appearing on social networking websites.  Most people have a personal experience of diagrams whether drawing directions or figuring out how to operate a new computer. Yet very few people are familiar with how we read or construct diagrams.

This short film introduces the language of diagrams and their role in visual thinking and communication. As only a film can do, it reveals the vocabulary "in the wild" and in the context of making and using diagrams.

This pilot film is intended as a teaser for a larger examination diagrams — from patent offices and computer-produced assembly instructions to data visualizations and MRIs. Diagrams are an ideal subject for a popular film on a scientific topic because they are both accessible and ubiquitous, providing a great vehicle for initiating a broad public to an essential tool of communication and creativity across all disciplines in science and engineering.

Distinction: Visionary Grant award 2009, Gordon Research Conference, as part of The Scripps Research Institute's Visualization in Science and Education Grant from NSF. Principal Investigator: Professor Jeff Nickerson of the Stevens Institute of Technology. The award is intended to seed new interdisciplinary research.

Presentation: Gordon Research Conference on Visualization in Science & Education (July 10-15, 2011).

The film is based on "Visualizing Thought" by Barbara Tversky. Published in "Topics in Cognitive Science" Volume 3, Issue 3, pages 499–535, July 2011.

Film Credits: Soundtrack: Pat Irwin. Edit: Alex Bingham. Camera: Claudia Christensen, Oren Eckhaus, Brian Jackson, Sean Sigler, Ian Vollmer.

Press: "Radical Effects on Learning: Transforming Communities and Practice."