Sketchplanations

Explaining one thing a day in a sketch.

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Desire path.
Created by desire and use. Sometimes I find myself walking on the traces of one as a statement that ‘there ought to be a path here’ - voting with my feet.
There’s the classic, perhaps apocryphal, story of the architect who didn’t build any paths on a campus until people had worn them in, showing where the paths should be.
The phenomena has found use in technology with the phrase ‘pave the cowpaths’.
More detail from Dan Lockton:

One emergent behaviour-related concept arising from architecture and planning which has also found application in human-computer interaction is the idea of desire lines, desire paths or cowpaths. The usual current use of the term (often attributed, although apparently in error, to Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space (1964)) is to describe paths worn by pedestrians across spaces such as parks, between buildings or to avoid obstacles—“the foot-worn paths that sometimes appear in a landscape over time” (Mathes, 2004) and which become self-reinforcing as subsequent generations of pedestrians follow what becomes an obvious path. Throgmorton & Eckstein (2000) also discuss Chicago transportation engineers’ use of ‘desire lines’ to describe maps of straight-line origin-to-destination journeys across the city, in the process revealing assumptions about the public’s ‘desire’ to undertake these journeys. In either sense, desire lines (along with use-marks (Burns, 2007)) could perhaps, using economic terminology, be seen as a form of revealed user preference (Beshears et al, 2008) or at least revealed choice, with a substantial normative quality.
Architecture, urbanism, design and behaviour: a brief review, Dan Lockton, Sep 2011

Or see this very concrete example from UC Berkeley at peterme.com.

Desire path.

Created by desire and use. Sometimes I find myself walking on the traces of one as a statement that ‘there ought to be a path here’ - voting with my feet.

There’s the classic, perhaps apocryphal, story of the architect who didn’t build any paths on a campus until people had worn them in, showing where the paths should be.

The phenomena has found use in technology with the phrase ‘pave the cowpaths’.

More detail from Dan Lockton:

One emergent behaviour-related concept arising from architecture and planning which has also found application in human-computer interaction is the idea of desire lines, desire paths or cowpaths. The usual current use of the term (often attributed, although apparently in error, to Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space (1964)) is to describe paths worn by pedestrians across spaces such as parks, between buildings or to avoid obstacles—“the foot-worn paths that sometimes appear in a landscape over time” (Mathes, 2004) and which become self-reinforcing as subsequent generations of pedestrians follow what becomes an obvious path. Throgmorton & Eckstein (2000) also discuss Chicago transportation engineers’ use of ‘desire lines’ to describe maps of straight-line origin-to-destination journeys across the city, in the process revealing assumptions about the public’s ‘desire’ to undertake these journeys. In either sense, desire lines (along with use-marks (Burns, 2007)) could perhaps, using economic terminology, be seen as a form of revealed user preference (Beshears et al, 2008) or at least revealed choice, with a substantial normative quality.

Architecture, urbanism, design and behaviour: a brief review, Dan Lockton, Sep 2011

Or see this very concrete example from UC Berkeley at peterme.com.

Identify a Douglas fir.
Once this had come to mind I haven’t forgotten since.

Identify a Douglas fir.

Once this had come to mind I haven’t forgotten since.

If you live ‘til you’re 90 you will have slept for 32 years.

If you live ‘til you’re 90 you will have slept for 32 years.

Easily draw expressions.
Not my invention. Most recently spotted via the excellent Eva-lotta Lamm.

Easily draw expressions.

Not my invention. Most recently spotted via the excellent Eva-lotta Lamm.

Watch out for barnacles.
More value will likely be found through analogy than the shipping situation. Watch out for barnacles on your project.
HT Lee Cowles.

Watch out for barnacles.

More value will likely be found through analogy than the shipping situation. Watch out for barnacles on your project.

HT Lee Cowles.

Sharing.
…is taking a risk.
…increases quality.
…provides unexpected benefits
A less textplanation version of my reflection.

Sharing.

…is taking a risk.

…increases quality.

…provides unexpected benefits

A less textplanation version of my reflection.

365 days of sketchplanations

Well, there it is. One a day for one year’s worth of sketchplanations.

A couple of thoughts follows, but mostly I’d just like to say thank you so much for following along. It’s been remarkable to have so many people actually read what I wrote/drew, every day. I know you have a lot of ways to spend your time, so thanks.

Second, I do intend to continue. Though I don’t think you’ll begrudge if I step it down from one a day. I’m looking at 3 a week. I think your inboxes will probably prefer that too.

Third, if you have ideas for sketchplanations, please, pass them on: jono.hey@gmail.com

Fourth, lots of people have asked about producing a collection as a book. If you know of how that may be possible at a reasonable price, please get in touch.

Now, in no particular order, here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

  • It’s kind of remarkable to compare the quality of the more recent ones, say, sneaky casinos, with those at the start, say, cooking is bucket science. And it’s interesting to see a style develop from what works. Hopefully for the better.
  • I think this comes from several places. Practice, sure. And trying harder. But mostly I think it stems from what happens when you put your work out in a public place. There’s an incredible power in sharing publicly to improve quality.
  •  I’m also reminded of how enough molehills make a mountain. There’s really something to that. Maybe, instead of aiming at your mountain, you could just start with a molehill.
  • There’s real power in undirected sharing. Rather than me trying to figure out who will like what, if you put work out there, others can decide what’s valuable to them. It’s been amazing to receive stories from people who’ve picked up sketching again, who’ve used them in classes, who’ve put them in books, who’ve used them in articles, who’ve been doing their own. I didn’t possibly imagine any of that when I started on day one.
  • I also learned that my most popular sketchplanations were not my best sketchplanations (at least as I see it). They were most likely those that happened to make their way into other popular streams like the awesome I love charts, or Upworthy. And looking at what seems popular is not a good way to make you happy about what you’re doing.
  • I learned a little of the curious growth of things on the internet. Things are very uneven. Here’s the growth of the mailing list:

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And once again, thanks. If you have any stories to share with me, you know where to find me.

PS: In case you missed it, I do plan to continue at a more sedate pace.

The Plimsoll line.
An internationally adopted system for ensuring ships aren’t overloaded.

The Plimsoll line.

An internationally adopted system for ensuring ships aren’t overloaded.

How to make Irish coffee.

How to make Irish coffee.

Thunder clouds.

Thunder clouds.