Tag: Visualization


Humantific at City of Austin


The Humantific Academy team is delighted to be back in Austin Texas working with the forward thinking City of Austin’s Civic Innovation Team on building adaptable civic innovation leadership capacity.

Many cities are realizing that there is a role for city governments in inspiring, supporting and leading innovation in their local communities. One result is significant interest from city government leaders in acquiring next generation innovation leadership skills for the specific context of complex civic challenges.

In Texas the City of Austin is moving rapidly to become a civic innovation leader. Within the City of Austin government multiple groups are enrolled in Humantific’s Complexity Navigation Program. In this unique hybrid program we combine the best aspects of Design Thinking, Applied Creativity Thinking and Information Visualization.

These are advanced participatory innovation leadership skills that allow graduates to help others navigate all kinds of fuzzy complex internal and external civic challenges without preconceived outcome assumptions. These next generation innovation skills benefit from the integration of data/information visualizations and other forms of up-front sensemaking.

If you are a civic innovation leader and you would like to chat with us regarding your innovation leadership capacity building challenges feel free to send us an email: kickitup (at) humantific (dot) com.



A Portrait of California 2014-2015


Humantific for Good is delighted to announce the publication of A Portrait of California 2014-2015. This amazing series from Measure of America is transforming the role that data informed visual sensemaking and insight creation are playing in policy making and change making.

Since 2006 Humantific for Good has been working with Measure of America, an initiative of the Social Science Research Council.

“Portrait of California 2014-2015 brings together data, innovative analysis, the American HD Index and visual sensemaking to enable engaging “apples-to-apples” comparisons of California’s counties, major cities, 265 Census Bureau–defined areas, women and men, and racial and ethnic groups.”

Created by authors Sarah Burd-Sharps and Kristen Lewis, A Portrait of California 2014-2015 is part of Measure of America social sensemaking book series as well as related conversations and interactive tools.


Blue Shield of California Foundation
California Community Foundation
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Humantific For Good
The California Endowment
The James Irvine Foundation
The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
United Ways of California
Weingart Foundation

Key Findings in A Portrait of California 2014-2015:

“Income inequality is in the headlines these days. But to focus on inequality in income alone is to take a narrow view of the problem. Mutually reinforcing inequalities in health, education, environment, neighborhood conditions, wealth, and political power have created an opportunity divide that higher wages alone cannot bridge.

If California were a country, it would rank thirty-fourth in the world by population and eighth by the size of its economy—big enough for a seat at the G8. So what happens in California has national, and even international, significance.

This 2014–2015 update of the 2011 California report allows us to compare outcomes from one place to another and to look at changes over time. The result is a comprehensive reference tool and a critical starting point for informed discussions on change making policy solutions.”


 Breathing Life into Numbers

Portrait of Sonoma County Launches

SenseMaking for ChangeMaking


VISUALIZED Berlin Conference


Humantific is delighted to announce our co-sponsorship of the upcoming VISUALISED Berlin Conference to be held on October 5th. We liked many of the explorations that we saw in New York at VISUALIZED 2012 so we are excited to see what comes out of this Berlin conference event this fall.

Apart from the current marketplace preoccupation with “data visualization” we understand the bigger picture, that visual sensemaking has a long history and remains in a state of change across multiple paths today. One of those paths is what is going on around the VISUALIZED community and it remains a rapidly changing neighborhood in the broader visual sensemaking ecology. We like experimental gatherings sharing new work and we think this event holds significant promise in this direction.

EarlyBird tickets are already sold out! 

Click here for more VISUALIZED Berlin information and/or register.

Can’t make it to Berlin on October 5th? Stay tuned for the next event in New York, in early 2014 here!


SenseMaking for ChangeMaking

Out of Balance Competition Winners Announced

ReAppreciating Richard Saul Wurman

Before, During & After Isotype

Lost Stories Information Design History



Reflections at 10,000 Feet

The Real Life Bird’s Eye View (or Why I Love to Look from Above).

Flying over Manhattan. May 2013.

These days I get on a plane often. And with repetition and familiarity comes lack of attention to things around you. Yet every time I get a window seat, I hang out the small window like a child, at least as much as you can on a plane. The clouds are something you never get tired of staring at… so fluffy and airy… you just want to reach out and touch them.

Oh, and the view, that bird’s eye view of our world. Not sure why I am so fascinated by looking down… even when there is little to see or when the scenery is quite similar. I guess it makes everything come into place for me in a visual way… everything makes sense.

We live our lives at that 10 feet level (well for me it’s more like 5 feet!). That’s our vantage point, and how we make sense of things. And yet, when we come up to those 10,000 feet, we abstract ourselves from that 10 feet reality and look at life in action from a different perspective. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different. It allows us to understand it in another way, and have a more complete picture. So that we understand why we are doing what we are doing everyday at that 10 foot level. In other words, it helps us reflect and align ourselves to where we want to go.

I probably enjoy this so much because this is what I do in life. What we do at Humantific. We help our clients and partners look at their opportunities and their challenges in different ways, from alternate perspectives… to think them through. They are typically very close to the 10 foot level, and have a hard time abstracting themselves to that 10,000 feet level. Because when you are in it, it’s hard to see beyond it.

Oh, how I love that bird’s eye view! You get to ask all the basic questions, or as I often like to call them, the dumb questions. And then create that picture of it all… To paint that view from above, to put the houses in the right place, and the mountains, the trees, the rivers and everything else… and then connect it to the 10 foot level view. It’s so much fun. It’s so valuable.

Need a bird’s eye view? We’d love to help!


Visual SenseMaking Glimpse in Madrid!

Elizabeth Pastor will be teaching a Glimpse into Visual SenseMaking in Madrid, Spain
on November 22! Open to the public and free!

This workshop is for you if:

  • You are curious about Visual SenseMaking but not sure what it actually is.
  • You have been disappointed with doodling-oriented approaches to visual thinking.
  • You are looking for a way to help your team build a shared understanding of complex situations.

Click here for more information!


To get on the waitlist for future Glimpse sessions in New York, San Francisco, and Madrid, send an email to programs (at) humantific (dot) com


Thoughts on THINK

Last week, the Humantific team took a field trip to Lincoln Center to see the THINK Exhibit. Sponsored by IBM in honor of their centennial, it showcases the tech giant’s many achievements in science, business, and everyday life, as well as current efforts to solve global challenges.

A tremendous amount of sensemaking and synthesis appears to have gone into the interactive experience. The entrance to the exhibit features a 123-foot-long data wall that pulses with glowing visualizations of data collected by sensors around New York City. Inside, a short film about “making the world work better” is displayed on seven-foot-tall, interactive touch screens. The film outlines a clear process of innovation: seeing, mapping, understanding, believing, and acting. By following this model, IBM proposes we can untangle complex systems and engage in meaningful interventions that make the world work better for us.

Overall, we found the exhibit inspiring, beautiful and engaging. Although the exhibit recently closed, we hope that IBM will extend the experience beyond this one-time event and allow more people to enjoy it.

Read Edward Rothstein’s review of the exhibit here:
Data as Art, as Science, as a Reason for Being | New York Times


Visualizing the U.S. Debt Problem

With the economic crisis still lingering and talk of raising the $14.3 trillion “debt ceiling” to allow the U.S. to borrow more money, it is difficult to comprehend the large sums of money the government is accountable for. While the national debt is currently at $14.5 trillion, the total amount of U.S. unfunded liabilities, including Social Security, prescription drugs (Medicare Part D), and Medicare, comes to $114.5 trillion!

Oto Godfrey has created a compelling 3D visualization to put that number into human scale. Those of us in New York City can appreciate the relative size of those stacked $100 bills next to local landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.


The LATCH model

Here’s an insightful short film that illustrates the LATCH model (also known as ‘The Five Hat Racks’).

In ‘Information Anxiety’ (1989) Richard Saul Wurman claims there exactly 5 ways to organize information and the acronym “LATCH” helps you remember them: Location, Alphabet, Time, Category, and by Hierarchy.


Visualization Harvard Business Review


We are delighted to see Scott Berinato of Harvard Business Review catching onto and up to the Visual SenseMaking revolution underway that includes significant advances in data visualization. This wave is occurring in parallel with the increasingly open sources of massive data sets not formerly available and in some case never before in existence.

Data visualization represents a significant application of visualization in the context of understanding business through better understanding of human behavior embedded in data.

“Clark, like many data visualizers, believes we’re on the front end of a revolution in information presentation. “There’s a lot of work done called scientific visualization or business intelligence graphics,” he says. “And it’s pragmatic, trying to solve practical problem. It’s all standard, a bar chart or pie. But those standard ways are not adequate when you’re trying to mine a richer data space. The world is full of complex data and we’re just starting to get the tools to make sense of it. We’re looking for new ways of presenting data.”’

While the commercial business application of data visualization is obvious, we are, at Humantific, also interested in how data visualization can be used in the context of social change ie: making the world a better place.

See more here on Harvard Business Review Blog: Four Ways of Looking at Twitter


Visualization the Next Design Frontier

Information Architects - Web Trend Map

Fast Company signals that it is catching on to a significant change wave with its recent post “Is Information Visualization the Next Frontier for Design?” however the realm of Visual SenseMaking has already become much broader than making sense of information. SenseMaking itself is being transformed and it is this transformation that is at the heart of the design thinking revolution today.

In Humantific’s Complexity Navigation Program for organizational leaders we are already teaching a five dimensional model of SenseMaking only one of which is making sense of information. Making sense of wicked problems and the human activities involved within requires much more than information visualization. This is where the real revolution is occurring, the changing role of Visual SensMaking in organizational and societal change making.

Hopefully in the next round Fast Company will get to the SenseMaking transformation story!

For more on this subject see:

Design 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 / The Rise of Visual SenseMaking by GK VanPatter

Social SenseMaking on Facebook.

Understanding Social SenseMaking by GK VanPatter

Visual SenseMaking Workshop Wraps

Social SenseMaking in Action / The Measure of America

Coming Soon: SenseMaker Dialogs / Rethinking the Boundaries of SenseMaking.

Registration for SenseMaker Dialogs is not yet open. If you would like to get on the preregistration list send an email to programs (at) humantific (dot) com.