Sketching, Drawing, Speaking, Thinking

By JulesLC

Conversations leave many kinds of traces. Lately I have been enjoying the process of shaping and reshaping ideas, possibilities, concepts through conversations with people at Nokia Bell-Labs. In particular, I am excited by the way that the language of sketching leaves traces, and also how the real-time visual thinking of sketching out an idea allows us to consider, reconsider, share and reflect on thoughts as they unfold in motion.


Seeing other sketches on white boards and pieces of paper all around are also inspiring, they are traces of the process of thinking-together in action, and they aren't really readable outside of the moment and context that they were drawn in. There is something about drawing in time in a public way, such as on a whiteboard or chalkboard, that is more than the sum of its parts. The sketch unfolds over time as thinking happens. Sketches always have a kind of beauty both because they are improvisational moments and because of their partiality; they are often partially-formed ideas. The more messy the sketch, the more active the conversation must have been! Here are some images of sketches from around.




Here are some sketches from our conversations and from my own thought-processes:


A few of my favorite scientists/thinkers are also notorious for their sketching, such as Richard Feynman Diagrams, or the comic like drawings of Roger Penrose:



Image result for Roger Penrose drawing lecture slide

It's hard to say whether we are indoctrinated with visual thinking or whether there is something deeper than training about the communicative aspects of drawing out one's thinking. Drawing something out seems to clarify and simplify thoughts which are otherwise a little bit more than language can represent.


Lastly, I want to mention sketching in honor of Patrick Henry Winston, with deep gratitude. Patrick was one of the most talented sketchers and one of the best teachers in the world,  a master of sketching in real time and color coding, through his drawing-instensive lecture method was able to teach very complex ideas to big groups of people. Here are some images of Patrick Henry Winston.


You can watch his full lectures here: