It’s not the words, it’s the concept.

October 21, 2013
Europeana edinburgh news
Written by: By Susan Reilly


Drawing high-level concepts can be helpful to clarify ideas.

‘A picture paints a thousand words’ but can a picture capture the concept behind a project as ambitious and wide ranging as Europeana Cloud?

Now in its 8th month, the project is tasked with establishing a cloud-based infrastructure for Europeana and its aggregators and with facilitating access to content and tools for researchers. This is an enormous task, which requires consultation with a wide range of stakeholders.

The latest round of consultation happened in Edinburgh, Scotland in October. Content providers, research infrastructures, aggregators and researchers came together to focus on the economic principles underpinning Europeana Cloud.

The value of the Cloud was discussed from the perspective of each of the stakeholders. Who benefits, and where does the funding come from? As the discussion progressed, an illustrator was on hand to capture and visualise the ideas and to draw out the values of the Cloud for each of the stakeholders.

Translating the discussion in to something visual led to the identification of problems as well as misunderstandings. That one person with a pen and paper was able to encapsulate what twenty five people had talked through over the course of a few hours was astonishing. We were, at least in a literal sense, on the same page.

Discussing the Cloud at a recent workshop in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The visualisation renewed and clarified discussions and helped us to agree further actions to be taken. There are few things more amorphous than a cloud and the concept of a Cloud based infrastructure is a difficult one to thrash through.

Using a simple tool such as illustration can make a huge difference in terms of achieving clarity and focusing discussions. It’s a tool I would highly recommend to anyone struggling to reach consensus around high level concepts.

By Friedel Grant

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