Learning Slide Design From an IKEA Billboard
Obama delivers speech like a symphony

Kermit learns visual thinking

Jim_Henson While reading Dan Roam's blog today I stumbled on this great little clip of a 1966 Kermit the Frog skit on visualization from the Ed Sullivan show. And then I found an earlier version of the skit from the 1950s below. Jim Henson truly was a creative genius and a pioneer (and either he — or Kermit — was ahead of his time). In this skit from the old Sam & Friends show — which is even before my time — Kermit and Harry the Hipster do a riff on visual thinking (I love the visualization of jazz...).

Dan Roam's @ Google talk

Backofnapkin And speaking of the power of visualization, there are a lot of good books out there on the topic, and one of my recent favorites is Dan Roam's Back of the Napkin (which I mentioned before). I recommend his book, but if you've got too much to read already then at least set some time aside to watch Dan's Google talk below. Dan makes many good points in the book (and this presentation). One of his points straight off is that the ability to visualize and even to draw is already within us. The problem is, after the age of six or so we're shunned away from visual thinking as we go through formal education. Obviously reading and writing, etc. are very important. No one is saying we need less of that. The problem is the visualization capabilities that are naturally within us never get fully developed in most of us. I wonder if this is part of the reason why most presenters fall into the old and excruciating bullet-point trap. 

(Don't have time for the @Google Talk? Then watch this five-minute presentation from BNET which summarizes Dan's book.)


Jon Thomas

I bet you love the fact that Kermit was a "square" for not liking jazz!

Caroline Schneider

The scene with Kermit is great. And you're about Jim Henson's geniality. In the early years of Sesame Street in Germany (1971 or 72?) I learnt a lot from Ernie and his friends. And for me this obviously links to the time when I started denying my drawing-abilities or rather loosing my drawing-(un-)selfconsciousness. Thanks - as always - for sharing, Garr.

Caroline Schneider

That should read: "...you're right about Jim Henson's geniality".


I loved the video with the frog (his name in Spanish is "rana Gustavo").

Really brilliant.

Kerstin Hoffmann

Absolutely gorgeous! You made my day!


I love it when I run across a post like this that reinforces a behaviour that was already quite natural to me, but until now I didn't really realize why I was doing it. I'm a doodler with no drawing skill, but circles boxes and arrows have always helped me express my concepts much more quickly. Now, I can focus on intentionally using a whiteboard when speaking with a larger group of people.

Also, interesting to see Google using the power of pictures (or manga much like Dan Pink's Johnny Bunko) to explain quite technical dry material in an interesting fashion. Here's their manga on their new browser!


Stephen Hampshire

Your point about us being drawn away from visual thinking is all too true.

The superb illustrator Niamh Sharkey made a similar point on her blog - it happens when we learn to worry about what other people think:

She links to The Big Draw, a UK campaign to get people drawing:

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