GeoBookStudio's Presentation at the International Big History Association Conference

IBHA 2014: Big History, Big Questions

This past August, the GeoBook Team attended the IBHA's second conference, "Teaching and Researching History: Big Picture, Big Questions." GeoBookStudio President and Lead Author, Wendy Curtis, presented on the importance of presenting Big History in an easy-accessible narrative, and on the ways that illustration and art help not only the reader, but also the author / researcher. Below are materials associated with her presentation.

Left to Right, Carl Anthony and Paloma Pavel of Breakthrough Communities; Barry Rodrigue, Panel Chair; Wendy Curtis, President GeoBookStudio;
Sun Yue of Capital Normal University; Evan Penn Serio of GeoBookStudio. Photo courtesy of Emily Griffoul.

Presentation Abstract
Emergent properties arising from the use of graphics in conveying Big History narratives benefit not just the reader but also the writer/researcher.
Big History, in any format, already provides a context that reveals trends, thresholds and major events but the addition of illustrations takes this to another level. Visual thinking is primal; humans are pattern seekers and we have been discerning and organizing information visually for much longer than we have been reading and writing.
The incorporation of illustrations into a book allows processes that operate on imagery to work on the writing process. For example, as the draft version develops, it becomes evident to the writer that some chapters have a visually dominant theme while other chapters contain a hodgepodge of images with no obvious pattern. The writer thus becomes aware which chapters lack an overarching theme or have several sub themes. With this knowledge in hand, it becomes easier to reorganize the themes within a hodgepodge chapter in a more systematic way or to seek out the dominant theme that may have been missing or buried in details. At the GeobookStudio, we have discovered and used several such techniques in the process of writing The Biggest Picture, a Big History book that uses graphics to actively drive the narrative.
These techniques will be explained with before and after examples from chapters that have been overhauled. Other potentially emergent properties that might arise from the synthesis of imagery with the written word will be discussed; such as improved memory retention for the reader, ease of seeing how themes interact, ease of finding subjects without the use of an index etc.

Presentation Slideshow

Keynote Version for Mac Users                                                         Powerpoint Version for PC Users