Why you should map: the science behind visual mapping

Visualizing ideas dates back to prehistoric times, but we are learning more and more each day about the power of imagistic thinking and using object-oriented visual grammars to understand, innovate, take action, and push us toward better ideas. You may hear people claim, they’re “not visual,” but the truth is that our brains have more neurons linking to our visual cortex than to any other part of our body. We are all visual thinkers and learners. But what does it mean to visually map our thinking? There are three important aspects of visual mapping that make it a powerful tool.

  1. Visual Mapping is About Seeing: Visual mapping turns ideas or things into visual representations you can see using shapes, lines and layout (icons, images, forms). This allows us to see things in new ways.
  2. Visual Mapping is Tactile: When we visually map our thinking the ability to move the shapes that represent ideas from one place to another makes these maps both tactile and dynamic.
  3. Visual Mapping is Object-oriented: Visual mapping reifies (physicalizes) ideas as objects (shapes, icons, images, labels, etc.). It gets ideas “out of our heads” making it easier for you and others to manipulate them or break them down.

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