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Archives: 'Vizual Thinking'

December 12, 2013

A story of Text2Cloud that (finally) works in Australia

2 years ago I worked with Chris Corrigan and Steven Wright at the first World Indigenous Housing forum in Vancouver, Canada. With over 600 delegates, a key technical design challenge was about “how to” harvest individual and small group ideas and from a group of that size?! In a long story short, we engaged the brilliant Luke Closs to build us a text2cloud system. Our brief was to enable delegates to text their insights to a central number. We needed to be able to access the data quickly and discover themes using online tools such as Wordle. We needed a ‘digital’ harvesting tool that would capture the essence of (analogue-style) conversation between people.

Luke’s system worked beautifully for our team in North America and I couldn’t wait to use it back home in Australia. I hit brick wall after brick wall and – due to the militant policies of Australian mobile carriers – I just could’t find a way to use Luke’s brilliant code.

Then just a couple of months ago, friend and colleague Fran Woodruff asked for my advice on text2cloud systems after hearing my Vancouver experience. That’s when Fran alerted me to Poll Everywhere – a online service that essentially replicates what Luke built from scratch over 2 years ago. Thank you Fran!

Last week, I had the pleasure of working alongside Viv McWaters and together we experimented with Poll Everywhere at the Game Changer Conference with over 350 delegates. It worked and here is what we learned about using a text2cloud system to harvest ideas from large groups …

1. Text2Cloud is a useful replacement to the traditional (and tedious) post speaker Q&A session

As questions came in from the delegates, our MC and Viv reviewed the questions as they scrolled up their computer screens. The texts arrive in real time and provide the reader with an instant snapshot of the emergent questions that usually remain invisible. For some people their questions never get seen or heard. We were able to synthesise the breadth of the questions and select the most compelling or common questions to ask the guest speaker. Speakers also agreed to provide brief answers to every question after the conference – this formed part of the proceedings. 


2. Text2Cloud is a great way of harvesting priorities from group dialogue and cafe-style conversations

At the end of small group conversations, we invited participants to text in the priority ideas and actions. We were able to harvest these easily and reflect them back using the large screens as they ideas came in. 


3. Reflecting back the themes/patterns (in real time) from large groups is powerful


4. Applications are not just limited to working with groups in the one room. Why not use this system to capture feedback/responses from anyone involved in a project or initiative even if they are geographically dispersed!

5. Everyone (well at least 99+% of people) knows how to text and most carry text-enabled devices with them to group events

6. Poll Everywhere is a text2cloud system that is easy to learn and it does what it claims it can do!


Let’s keep experimenting with these new harvesting technologies! When used well, they can be a great compliment to processes involving dialogue and group conversations.


GeoffBrown | Facilitation, Vizual Thinking | Comments (1)

August 28, 2012

Playing around with Storify

I have started playing around with Storify again. I am going to introduce some school teachers to Storify during a session this Thursday at my local school. The topic will be on knowledge curation and the social web. I can imagine how useful Storify could be to a teacher.

Please let me know of any other useful tools that teachers can learn to use. Something that helps to store, curate and publish information/ideas/stories/knowledge.

Here is a Storify story that contains the basic content of my session …


GeoffBrown | Presentations & Slideshows, Vizual Thinking | Comments Off on Playing around with Storify

July 20, 2012

Graphic Harvest from Thriving in Uncertainty #AINOz12

Fellow applied improvisor and friend April Seymore showed up to Thriving In Uncertainty last week. Not only did she contribute her enthusiasm and wisdom, April picked up the marker pens and harvested from conversations that were happening in break out sessions. Great to see others doing this as well!!

April, amongst other things, is a key part of the education team at the City of Port Phillip’s Eco Centre in StKilda, Melbourne. She is trained as a Resource Smart AuSSI Vic facilitator, assessor and trained as a WaterWatch educator. Now April has put herself ‘out there’ as a graphic facilitator too! Here is April’s graphic reflections on last week’s conference …

GeoffBrown | Creative Stuff, Facilitation, Vizual Thinking, Yes!And Improv | Comments Off on Graphic Harvest from Thriving in Uncertainty #AINOz12

June 28, 2012

Gift Economy

Giving your ‘stuff’ away is the new economy. We have moved way beyond a world of production and protection where we sell everything to consumers. Most of us now produce stuff … we share it (for free) … we consume and remix stuff from others. Here is a classic example …

A few months ago I drew this picture – it’s simply a network of how I use and visualise my knowledge flows and social media.

And then someone (Laura Pearle) spotted it on Twitter. Laura had a presentation to give at a conference about uses of social media for personal archiving and she requested to use it. “Of course” I said. So a few months later Laura sent me a link to her presentation. Check out slides 7 and 8. Laura used my picture to ask her audience a question about their own map of personal, online archiving. So my little picture has come back to me in within a context that I can now from. That’s the Gift Economy right there!

Personal digital archiving

View more presentations from Laura Pearle


GeoffBrown | Creative Stuff, How Stuff Spreads & Changes, Presentations & Slideshows, Vizual Thinking | Comments Off on Gift Economy

May 8, 2012

Graphic Harvest with Narration

I am currently facilitating a series of conversations between a group of people who have joined the 3 Pillars Network Active Learning program. The core purpose of this program is to connect people from all over Australia who work in the field (if you can call it  field?) of behaviour change for sustainability. The idea is to promote learning between practitioners, researchers and those in policy.

Last week I drew a map of the key things I remembered from the conversations. I love creating these maps after reading books and listening to TED talks. It helps to make links between ideas and create a story. Yesterday I shared my map with a participant who couldn’t make it to the session. I took her through the map, piece by piece, and wished I had recorded it.

Today, I did record it … it a first take and I have no idea why the video is compressed into half the screen?

Here’s the map …

And here’s the video – a 10 minute watch …

GeoffBrown | Brain Science & Research, Creative Stuff, How Stuff Spreads & Changes, Sustainability, Vizual Thinking | Comments Off on Graphic Harvest with Narration

May 7, 2012

Graphic Harvest – from chat to dialogue

Last week I was part of a learning conversation with practitioners, policy makers and researchers, all interested in diving deep into the complexity of behaviour change. We started by helping each other out with current problems, challenges and questions about our work – this was highly practical stuff and focused mainly on principles and practices.

At the end of the conversation we created a map of the group’s current thinking about behaviour change in practice. I felt we were able to go beyond ‘talking’ and enter the realm if Dialogue … we were thinking together. Here’s the map I drew to summarise …

GeoffBrown | Creative Stuff, Facilitation, How Stuff Spreads & Changes, Living Systems & Complexity, Vizual Thinking | Comments Off on Graphic Harvest – from chat to dialogue

February 27, 2012

Ira Glass on Storytelling

This is a great reminder for anyone doing anything. Ira talks about storytelling, but “hanging in there with “perseverance”  & “doing the volume of work/practice” is sound advice for all of us!

HT to the DoLectures Email Newsletter for pointing this one out!

GeoffBrown | Creative Stuff, Story, Vizual Thinking | Comments Off on Ira Glass on Storytelling

February 6, 2012

Simplifying my digital habits

I started thinking and drawing about the many & varied ways I store, share, create and consume media and information. So this map emerged and it has provided me with a simpler ‘way’ of doing stuff this year.


At the core of ‘creation’ is my blog – YesAndSpace

At the core of ‘sharing’ is Twitter (for rapid stuff) & Posterous (for everything I notice worth sharing)

At the core of ‘reading & sharing’ are the feeds I subscribe to via Google Reader.

At the core of ‘collaboration’ is Skype & Google Documents.

At the core of ‘storing’ is Evernote & the ‘read later’ items that I bookmark to Instapaper.

There you have it … a map of how I do stuff! Useful? It was for me 🙂

GeoffBrown | Just observations, Vizual Thinking | Comments (1)

July 29, 2011

What are you a student of right now?

Here are some words that came to me when doodling on my iPad – playing with the Adobe Ideas App. Some fields and practices that I am a student of … What words would add to this image?


GeoffBrown | Brain Science & Research, Vizual Thinking | Comments (1)

June 27, 2011

Yes! Its a tangled mess

Big HT to Andrew Rixon for noticing this Leunig Cartoon in the weekend Age …

Andrew suggested that Leunig really understands complexity theory – I agree!

This metaphoric-tangle that Leunig uses is so true of life and most of what we do. So why are we still trying to control and manage this tangled web with rules?

Luenig knows that there are no ‘rules’ for getting through this mess. Instead, he has captured some ‘principles’ in this cartoon … principles that might just help change our mindset. There are probably some other principles too but there is no rule book to help select them and make the process linear and neat! Leunig’s cartoon is an invitation to dive deep into learning together.

GeoffBrown | Just observations, Vizual Thinking | Comments (3)