A Picture's Worth

June 4, 2010 1 Comment

“If you bring the appropriate people together in
constructive ways with good information, they will create
authentic visions and strategies to address the shared
concerns of their organization or community.”

—David Chrislip

Clearly I am no Chris Jordan.  Thankfully, along with the talented and committed Mr. Jordan, there is a group of conscientious elementary school students in Grafton, VT who have taken it upon themselves to create the kind of display captured in my home movie above that conveys in a visceral what our reliance upon plastic bags means in this country.  The students strung together 2,662 bags, enough to ring two large fields.  This is the number of bags that Americans are calculated to dispose of each second.

The display attracted many visitors to the Pale Blue Dot fundraising event for the Grafton Nature Museum, and it elicited strong reactions from observers who noted that seeing the bags strung out against the verdant backdrop left them with a real pit in their stomachs.  This was wonderful testimony not just to the power of information, but the power behind the way information is presented.

The David Chrislip quote above is what we here at IISC refer to as the “collaborative premise.”  It captures the essence of what is required to make collaboration work – the appropriate people, constructive process, and good content.  Admittedly, our focus tends most to be on the people and the process, deferring to content experts to pick up in the third area.  However, we are now seeing researchers and data experts reaching out to acquire more process and presentation savvy so that good information is presented in powerful ways.  This is in large part the premise behind the GeoDome experience I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

We are awash in information, much of which passes right by or over us when our filters become dulled and/or overwhelmed.  The answer, say some, is to find more multi-sensory, intimate, and story-based ways of conveying what we want people to take in, retain, and respond to.  And so I’m wondering what powerful ways you have discovered to present information  that help to more fully realize the promise of the collaborative premise.

1 Comment

  • Cynthia Silva Parker says:

    I’m a fan of the ‘digital story,’ created as a first person narrative and filmed by the author of that narrative. I’ve seen them used powerfully to raise awareness about the causes and consequences of domestic violence, trash dumping in low income communities and chronic, longterm unemployment, to name a few.

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