Thinking in Images


Most people think in words. When asked to imagine a traffic accident they come up with not very detailed descriptions, in comparison with people who are thinking in pictures. It became even worse if the words are becoming more and more abstract. Words as society, market, law, inflation etc. stay for them just words; they are unable to convert the words into images. Picture thinkers don’t have to translate, they think in pictures.


As school systems are mainly auditory-sequential oriented, it is not surprising that mainly visual-spatial thinkers will have problems at school. Usually, they encounter learning difficulties. But not only at school. Most picture thinkers don’t fit well in traditional companies and institutions. They do things in other ways than expected or “normal”, due to “weaknesses” in thinking.


Picture thinkers are also called right-brainers, as some popularisations oversimplify the science about lateralization, by presenting the functional differences between hemispheres as being more absolute than is actually the case.


We have also committed to this theoretical sloppiness with left/right brain generalisations, although, a handy mini theory to generate creative ideas as we have demonstrated in Blocking the Left Brain Functions.

As we wrote in left brain/right brain thinking, the debate regarding about what goes on in our left and right brain hemispheres seems like a never-ending story. You will find support for the idea that creative people use the right hemisphere while people who are good at organising things are using their left hemisphere. But we can also find support for the idea that creative and non-creative thinking are not two different things but are more reinforcing each other.

The idea that the brain has different specialised functions that can be used to improve memory, learning and thinking are also the part of the foundation behind mind mapping.


A Whole New Mind: Why Right-brainers Will Rule the Future, a book by Daniel H. Pink, posits that the future of global business belongs to the right-brainers. He outlines six essential senses:

  • Design – Moving beyond function to engage the sense.
  • Story – Narrative added to products and services – not just argument.
  • Symphony – Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).
  • Empathy – Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.
  • Play – Bringing humour and light-heartedness to business and products.
  • Meaning – the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself.

Daniel Pink is one of an increasing number of writers on the importance of the Conceptual Economy, as a follow-up of the Information and Knowledge Age. Conceptual economy is a term describing the contribution of creativity, innovation, and design skills to economic competitiveness, especially in the global context. Other contributors to our understanding of the conceptual economy include Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat, Tom Kelley’s The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation, explaining the role of assets such as empathy, storytelling, individual experiences and stimulating work environments in fostering creative ideas.

The discussion about the necessity to escape from dominant linear-sequential thinking was earlier argued by Howard Gardner. He developed The Theory of Multiple Intelligences in his 1983 book Frames of Mind:


In one of our next blog posts, we will give hints and tricks together with some useful resources to become “picture smart”. An essential skill to use mind mapping to the fullest of its advantages.

Physical Ticket Machine – Thinkibility Nibble

Moscow Subway Ticket Machine Accepts Physical Exercise As Payment

To promote exercise and the 2014 Olympics, Olympic Changes installed a very special ticket machine at the Moscow subway station. Instead of accepting money as payment, the high-tech ticket machine only accepts exercise. Riders could receive a free ticket by standing in front of the machine’s camera.

We think it is interesting. But why is it interesting? Why did it caught our attention?

By the way, what is the concept of interesting?

interestingThis map was made by using the Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus, an excellent tool for explore your thinking.

Suddenly we have fifteen focus area to reflect why a Physical Ticket Machine is interesting. And that could help you to bring the idea further. Could you come up with ideas to improve the concept? Other applications? Other ways to carry out the concept? Comparable concepts?

We would like to hear your suggestions but consult first with your patent office.


Visualisation – Thinkibility Nibble


Where do you search for ideas on reflection and ways to enhancing your awareness? How do you visualise the thinking steps to be taken to solve a problem?

Mental as well as physical components make up a successful athletic performance and the last decades various techniques have been developed to mentally prepare athletes.

Imagery is a technique that is used in sport and by musicians to decreasing anxiety and enhancing self-confidence, self-efficacy, and concentration. It is also a great way to review past experience. Imagery is an experience that mimics real experiences by using a combination of different sensory modalities. Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho uses imagery for game preparation and strategy purposes:

“When I train, one of the things I concentrate on is creating a mental picture of how best deliver the ball to a teammate, preferably leaving him alone in front of the rival goalkeeper. So what I do, always before a game, always, every night and every day, is try and think up things, imagine plays, which no one else will have thought of, and to do so always bearing in mind the particular strength of each team-mate to whom I am passing the ball. When I construct those plays in my mind I take into account whether one team-mate likes to receive the ball at his feet, or ahead of him; if he is good with his head, and how he prefers to head the ball; if he is stronger on his right or his left foot. That is my job. That is what I do. I imagine the game”.

Visualization technique is a sort of clarified daydream where a player or coach uses previous experiences to enhance the sense of reality.

Below is a video where the PETTLEP model of imagery is demonstrated on the golf course. This model is based upon the idea that shared areas in the brain are activated during both physical and imagined movements.

  • Physical – image the relevant physical characteristics. For example, a musician would imagine herself with a flute in the hand.
  • Environment –image in the environment where the performance takes place
  • Task – image details relevant to the task, these demands should be appropriate to the player’s level.
  • Timing –image in real time, but slow motion imagery can be used for difficult passages.
  • Learning – the imagery should be adapted and reviewed to match changes in the task and the level of expertise.
  • Emotion – use the same images that would be felt during the performance. But avoid using negative emotions such as being scared of a certain passage. Instead, it is important to image that the passage is played with confidence.
  • Perspective – the perspective can be through your own eyes and third person, watching yourself play the flute.

Photo “Violinist Jumping” by koratmember

Press Patterns

patternsIt is generally believed that the media are rather objective yet lightly coloured by their economic or religious values.  Media differ on a same topic in the words used in the headings, the wording, or the framing. However, there are indications that media are not so different at all. This phenomena is called MSM – Main Stream Media. Mainstream media (MSM) are those media disseminated via the largest distribution channels, which therefore represent what the majority of media consumers are likely to encounter. The term also denotes those media generally reflective of the prevailing currents of thought, influence, or activity. Therefore, operating in a logic bubble or thinking pattern.

Standard thinking, no challenge of current beliefs

Many media are largely state-owned or sponsored and therefore they are able to directly or indirectly control jobs and financing. By doing so, media is able to exert soft power to filter, frame or discredit displeasing news. Other media are private owned and they are often worse. Profits have to be made of more than 20%, yet the subscriptions go down by competition of free on-line news and as a consequence incomes by ads drop down. Consequently, there will  automatically be no time and money to carry out  investigative journalism or watchdog journalism. Nowadays most media are copying from news agencies without adding any value or suggestions.

A deadly embrace with those in power

Moreover, often there is a silent coalition between politicians and media reporters. In exchange of providing news, a scoop or granting an interview, a journalist will write “friendly” (non-critical) about the politician. Journalists are in competition with each other for access to news sources, reputation, firsts and jobs.

At the same time politicians are dependent on journalists to get heard by their voters. They are in competition for media attention, mainly with their party colleagues.

Journalists and politicians hold each other in a deadly embrace in a mechanism earlier described in our blog post How Thinking Patters Are Created. In some countries politicians have more power over the press. In other countries the press or press conglomerates control the politicians.


The same mechanism is working in a tacit coalition between a royal family or a presidents coterie and the media and politicians, especially when corruption or sexual misbehavior is involved. We must assume that all mainstream media are covered by intelligence services who are able to mute or downplay any compromising news. Usually one or more editors are already approached for cooperation with the secret services from the beginning of their career and from that time kept dormant until required for what is euphemistically put, “important interests” of the state.

The embrace of the media with politician doesn’t only produce a standard thinking pattern amongst them, but exports that via the media to the general public. The concept is called politico-media complex.

Algorithms determines what information a user would see

Newspaper websites are starting to make stories more prominent to you if your friends have liked them on Facebook. More and more we are bound by filter bubble. The term was coined by internet activist Eli Pariser in his book by the same name; according to Pariser, users get less exposure to conflicting viewpoints and are isolated intellectually in their own informational bubble. Pariser related an example in which one user searched Google for “BP” and got investment news about British Petroleum while another searcher got information about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and that the two search results pages were “strikingly different.

How to escape Press Patterns

Non-mainstream Media refers to any other media outlet that doesn’t fall under the 90 plus percent owned by the global media conglomerates. Unlike corporate media, the non-mainstream is driven by a desire for the truth – not profits.

For headlines you don’t see on TV, see for example here or here.

Recently we came across nsnbc international which claims that there exists a global demand for a high quality, international newspaper, which is truly independent from political parties and organizations, corporate funding and state sponsorship.

Another is the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity founded in 2009 that aims to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government. It provides professional training; research, editorial, multimedia and technical support; and assistance with marketing and promoting the work of a nationwide network of nonprofit reporters.

The mission of the Center of Public Integrity is to enhance democracy by revealing abuses of power, corruption and betrayal of trust by powerful public and private institutions, using the tools of investigative journalism.

These American examples deserve imitation, especially in Western Europe where the general public is believing that the media are independent, which is not.

Non-mainstream Media

Non-mainstream media are also referred to as Alternative Media: newspapers, radio, television, magazines, movies, websites, blogs and twitters which provide alternative information to the MSM in a given context, whether the mainstream media are commercial, publicly supported, or government owned. There are also alternative news agencies.

Understanding of Complex Problems


How do you make the tiny tangible?

The building blocks of human life – cells – are tiny. The idea behind the “Living Cell” project was to make the tiny human cell look large. The interactive installation called”‘Living Cell” was created by CLEVER°FRANKE for the ERIBA Institute in Groningen, the Netherlands. Short visualisations can explain complex problems in  subjects such as physics, biology and chemistry in ways that enhance your understanding of the problem. Somehow describing things in words seems limited after watching the video below.

This installation unveils the mystery of the cell and shows the various parts of the cell. You actually step inside a cell to explore the process of a human cell. You can activate mitochondria by simply placing your feet into them. Mitochondria is the power station and you can watch as the rest of the cell comes alive with a burst of energy. The cell’s power station is also involved in cell division and growth, as well as cell death. So a good understanding of this process is vital when you explore the world of the cell. Research into mitochondrial transfer has lead to a new way to prevent a mother passing on genetic diseases.  The genes from three persons are used in mitochondrial transfer. You can read more here about the plans to use this technique.


The installation shows:

  • What happens if a cell ages and its DNA starts to contain errors?
  • How does a cell react to bad external influences?
  • How does the cell store energy?

The installation aims to let the process speak for itself. There is no text or narration to guide you. By stepping on external substances such as glucose and nicotine, you run a little experiment to see how the cell will react. The glucose gets things moving, while the nicotine. . .

Living cell – interactive installation – Short docu from CLEVER FRANKE on Vimeo.

Perception and Thinking

We are confined to ways of describing whatever is described. Our universe, so to speak, consists of these ways rather than of a world or of worlds.”  Nelson Goodman

Visual Perception

Visual perception is the ability to make sense of information that we receive through our eyes. Visual perception can be described as consisting of three different stages:

  •  Parallel processing
  • Pattern perception
  • Goal-directed processing

In the first stage, the features such as the location, size, shape, and colour of an object are detected.  During this stage, certain aspects grab your attention such as dark objects stand out against light objects.

After the initial perception, you divide the visual field into different groups, and finally you try to make sense of what you see. A problem is that what we see is not a simple translation of the image on the retina. To describe the processes involved when we create what we have actually seen has proven a difficult task.  Part of perception involves focusing the attention to certain aspects. What we perceive are filtered, and depends on where or on what you decide to focus your attention. This influence and determine the decisions we make and many thinking mistakes are actually based upon mistakes that are make in perception.

Visual illusions may look like an activity that is only fun and stunning to look at, yet, they help to reveal some of the secrets involved in visual perception. By tricking and luring the brain to look at impossible figures and 3-D visualisations, some ways that we interpret the world are revealed. A visual illusion occurs when we see something that simply is not there.

Can you find the
the mistake?
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