6. Origin Story and Case Study – Part 1

Origin Story & Case Study – Part 1

How the Experiment Began

In our very first conversation, a Zoom call in June 2020, my collaborator, Bart, and I coined a phrase for ourselves: Digital Visual Literacy (DVL). We immediately looked up any references to the term, but couldn’t find any. For us, it referred to the practice of accessing, creating, using and exploiting visual images — along with words — using the tools of digital technology: computers, smartphones, tablets, surfaces and the Internet, plus the software that enabled and our innate human ability to visualize things. A some we immediately imagined the benefits of doing all that, we saw the term as expressing a cool, powerful, emerging machine+human hybrid capability. We also realized the term might be a stretch for people, or possibly too abstract.

DVL is directly relevant to any discussion of visual communication, online drawing, online whiteboards, drawing to explain, etc. Like any other form of literacy, DVL involves a mindset, a language, a set of practices and skills, and having plenty of interaction with people to practice these skills, in order to become fluent, agile and successful. This blog is a case study about developing DVL as that way of doing business, which thousands teachers, needing to educate remotely, are fully and creatively embracing in their classrooms. Meanwhile, relatively few people in workplace have jumped on board . . . but we think the wave is on the horizon. 

Part 1 –  Context

Blogposts 6, 7, 8 and 9 in particular are therefore based largely on my own lived experience — not on research or academic foundation. I am not a psychologist researcher, or professional writer; I’m a change management consultant, meeting facilitator and former company executive. I have over 30 years of experience solving business and people problems — over 25 years making collaboration, change, creative interaction, and progress easier for people. In short, I make difficult and highly resisted moments in the workplace (like change) easier for people to deal with and move through. 

So, for the most part I won’t be discussing any theory or big philosophical ideas here. This is a 100% true case study of how Bart, my project partner and I, living 6,000 miles and nine time zones apart, (and whom I’ve still never met in person,) cultivated a totally unplanned and unstructured collaboration out of thin air with a worldwide pandemic unfolding around is. This was possible by utilizing what we quickly realized was (then decided to call) Digital Visual Literacy (DVL) — the blend of digital and visual literacy skills and attitudes that anyone using digital technology can see is emerging in tech product trends.

What I’ll be sharing about therefore, might be looked at in a couple of ways: from the story of two professionals who synchronistically found one another third of way around the world, to an exploration of the three potentialities that mix together in DVL: 1) innate human abilities, which can work for and against us; 2) high-tech capacities, which can leverage those abilities; 3) the benefits of practical workplace training and development. 

I have three aims in writing this series of 12 blogposts: 1) call attention to the adoption a better way of working that’s right “under our noses” yet difficult for most of us to see. 2) spark your own practical sense of “What if”. As reader, you might think of the term literacy as simply the handle or latch on a door to huge value that’s never been locked. 3) support people in seeing what our unusual, 4-hour, 9-part, online course, Visual Supercharge, has to offer.

Let’s quickly discuss our idea about literacy a bit more.