One reason I haven't been blogging often is the graduate course I'm taking in information visualization. Not only does it consume most of my free time, it's raised my mental bar for blog posts. There are several reasons I want to have better visuals to encompass my posted thoughts.
Usable information visuals break you out of text's serial tyranny. It's the nature of verbal information to be linear, but visual encourage divergent, nonlinear thinking. As a consequence of this, techniques like mind mapping are great visualizations for creativity, even if they're composed of pure words. On the other hand, linear outlines are fine for organizing one's thoughts when writing a paper, but they're a poor way to take notes or categorize information for learning.
Unfortunately, one thing holding me back is poor drawing and sketching skills. Multiple books I've read claim that you don't need drawing skills to communicate and persuade with sketches. But I've endured one too many patronizing smiles from peers over my stick figures, spindly lines, and lack of perspective. There's nothing for this except a little guidance and learning, and a lot of practice. Perhaps over the summer, I'll convert this blog to documenting some self-assigned drawing work. I hope I still have readers left by September!
There's nothing wrong with pencil and paper, but if you want to share sketches with your work team, it's helpful to create them directly on a computer. Some of my coworkers use slick tablet PCs for this, but I need a more conventional, powerful PC laptop that can run Visio and Photoshop at the same time without bogging down. (As an aside, why isn't there a multitouch tablet Mac?)