We think that an accurate drawing is the easiest to understand. It’s not always the case with sketchnotes. Being a bit more creative and thoughtful by drawing abstract sketchnote icons can bring some real benefits that make your sketchnotes more interesting for readers and more useful for yourself.
Here are 3 reasons why you should get more creative with your next sketchnote icons.
Easier to understand
You often need to draw small icons and too many details make them harder to make out. Plus the most details you add, the more of your opinion you add in. That’s a real issue if you want to talk about a category like a bookshop rather than the bookshop down the road which you go to.
Which is easier to understand and which has more character?
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What is our fundamental need? According to Andy Crouch, it’s to be recognized by God and each other. This need is so important that studies have shown when we are neglected of it, we don’t develop properly. In the Book, The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World, Andy Crouch starts by laying out this need before addressing how we’re failing to fulfil it and how we might address it in the future.
As someone who loved The Tech Wise Family by Andy and who has become increasingly technologically wary, I was excited to read Andy’s book. It was both more than I expected, and very different than what I had expected.
Important note: Andy is writing from a Christian perspective and this is one I hold. His worldview influences his writing heavily.
The Life We’re Looking For Sketchnote
The main point
Andy’s main point is that we’re increasingly trading real relationships, with each other and God, for the “magic” of technology. This isn’t completely new but recent changes in the world from the industrial, financial and telecommunication revolutions have made this view dominant in society.
Andy contends that to be truly satisfied, we need to promote a society where we are fully human and in true relationships with God and each other. This means we need to engage our
and recognize each other as being of immense worth, no matter of our differences.
The search for true relationships and a lesson from Gaius’s Table
To give an example of true relationship, Andy highlights the community in the background of Paul’s letter to the Romans.
This group of slaves and free people, men and women, Jews and gentiles met in the house of Giaus, a wealthy roman head of household. Here, although they were treated very differently by society, they were all equal.
One of the shocking details Andy picks up on is that the person who writes Paul’s letter, Tertius, has a slave name for “3rd”.
By society he was viewed of so little importance that he was merely denoted by the order of his birth. And yet Paul invited him to add his name to the letter, showing him of as equal importance as Giaus.
This kind of relationships, where we see and value even the people neglected by society, is what Andy argues for.
Devices vs instruments
A core point Andy distinguishes is between devices and instruments. Andy defines them as
A device is something with makes an activity so easy, that humans are no longer really required. An example is how a roomba can tidy up the house with no human effort.
This seams like it’s an unqualified good; we no longer have to do a boring, time consuming or difficult task. However, there are usually unforeseen consequences of devices.
We usually adapt for our devices.
Using the Roomba examples, we might design our homes so they are more suitable for our robot friends to clean. Or the unlimited access we now have with the internet can lead to us watching endless entertainment rather than engaging deeply with what we watch.
Instruments, on the other hand, still augment our skills or abilities but require skill (and usually focus) to use. The main example Andy gives is a bike which allows a person to travel further than by foot, but still engages the senses and requires strength. Going for a bike ride might leave you tired, but often it comes with a sense of achievement. Compare that to the experience of a long-haul flight; you can travel further than ever possible in a short time, but you sit passively the whole time.
Does it give more than it takes?
A key question to our evaluation of the tools around us is if they give more than they take.
An instrument will allow us to do new things without imposing new requirements or constraints upon the user. A great instrument also empowers us to more fully use our hearts, souls, minds and strength and deepen relationships.
In contrast, a device will impose more limits than benefits and reduce us as
Impact vs influence
Personal note: Using “impact” as a verb is one of my pet peeves and has been for a while. So I was delighted to see Andy has similar issues with it.
He points out how recent this usage of the word is, and how there are many other options including influence. I’d go further and say that every other near synonym is more expressive than impact. Andy does, however, point out why impact has become a popular verb: it reflect quick, significant change.
In our current society, the goal of “moving fast and break things” is lauded. Caution is a negative and so any negative side effects are seen as costs of innovation.
But impact is short lived, and so another impact is required. And then another and another. All the while the shockwaves of these impacts can be causing colossal damage. Just look at the data around self-esteem and use of Instagram all the while the owners try to make it more addictive.
The alternative is influence, which looks at long-term change and compounding effects. It’s not about making massive changes now, but about deliberate movement towards a goal.
Influence isn’t as popular as it can often be missed in the moment. Contrast that with impact and it’s easy to see results. But in the long run, impact leads to burnout and influence leads to growth.
Charmed vs blessed
A final key difference is between charmed and blessed.
Andy highlights how many of the examples we might tag on social media as #blessed are really examples of living a charmed existance.
A charmed existence is one free of worry, pain and work.
It’s the all inclusive holiday in the sun where we don’t lift a finger and all our needs are catered for. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it, but there are negatives.
Charm is costly. It’s not just money, it can be costly in terms of personhood. To keep a charmed lifestyle for some, others have to live in servitude. Yes, tourism can help raise economic standards in some places (while making them dependent) but it isn’t always equal and costs still need to stay low to keep that servitude possible.
Furthermore, the relationship between the charmed person and the server isn’t one of equals. It’s one of subjugation via economics.
The contrast is a blessed existance, one which is rich in love but is costly too.
Andy draws examples of Biblical figures such as Abraham, Jacob and Jospeh who are blessed but after suffering or through suffering. He even draws on his own story of his friend dying of cancer and how although it was immensely painful, it was also a blessing to be able to be so close with him.
Andy isn’t against technology; he even owns a Roomba (something I surely would have thought to be a device he’d be cautious of). So this book isn’t a doom and gloom or quick easy practical tip book.
At first I felt slightly disappointed by this fact. After all, I want help and guidance to help avoid the negatives of technology and devices. But I realised that this actually helps prove the point of the book.
The real challenge isn’t just reducing our technology dependency, but replacing it with pursuing true relationships. That’s not something with easy prescriptions for every situation, instead it’s something we all need to workout on our own, for our contexts.
Plus there are plenty of blogs and books on how to reduce our technological dependence.
Grab your own copy of The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World
If this review has whet your appetite, then you should pick up your own copy of Andy’s book to go into greater depth. And if you’d like some practical tips as a parent, I’d recommend his book The Tech Wise Family
What’s the best way to validate a product or service idea? According to author Rob Fitzpatrick it’s the exact opposite of what most of us do. Here’s a quick summary of his book The Mom Test (including a sketchnote) to show you what we do wrong and the right way to act instead.
Table of Contents
The Mom Test Sketchnote summary
What is the mom test?
The mom test is the worst thing you can do to validate an idea, and yet it is what most of us do.
It’s when you ask someone you know if they like our idea. It’s called the mom test because it’s like when a mom evaluates their kid’s drawings. They like it because of their relationship with the child and so don’t give it fair evaluation or feedback.
When you rely on the mom test, you fail to properly validate your ideas but get positive feedback. This leads to bad decisions.
What to do instead of the mom test?
Instead of asking if someone like your idea, you should either
seek to understand their problems, situation and current solutions
ask them to buy your product or service.
The first helps you get evidence on what the person actually does and needs not what they think they might like. The second proves if they think the idea has value to it and that they would be willing to pay.
How to properly validate an idea
Rather than start with your idea, start by finding out what they are currently doing to solve their problems. You should ask questions to make sure this is a real problem and one that is causing them issues.
While they are answering, look for specific past occasions they have tried to solve their problem instead of generic ideas or opinions about what they’d like. If they can give an example of how they have tried to solve that problem, it proves it is a significant problem. If they haven’t tried to solve it, they don’t care enough.
An anti-marketing approach to sharing your idea
In marketing, you want to share your idea in the best possible light in an attempt to convince someone to buy. When validating an idea, you want to present it as plainly as possible.
State exactly the idea, how it is different, how it works and what it does. Don’t talk about the pain points or how it can help overcome problems with other solutions, be as to the point as possible.
If someone still has a positive reaction to your idea, then you know it’s a good idea. If they have problems or questions about it, don’t be upset.
The value of bad news
Bad news is better than good news.
If you find out there is a similar competitor or another solution which solves the problem better than you could, you have saved yourself from wasting your time.
If someone finds a fault in your product or service, you can now address it. Problems aren’t the end of the discussion.
How to respond to feature requests
Everyone and their dog knows what’s missing from your product or service.
But they’re mostly wrong. Especially when they talk about features.
Your goals is to find out the underlying problem they are trying to address and then work out the best way to address it. This is tightly connected to one of the mom test golden rules.
You cannot tell the customer what their problem is or isn’t, and in return they can’t tell you how to solve it.
If someone tells you they have an issue, accept that feedback. They do have an issue.
Other people might not have the same issue but their problem is real.
But you don’t have to accept their solution.
Get your own copy of the mom test
If this summary and review of the mom test by Rob Fitzpatrick has whet your appetite, you can get your own copy of the book to explore the ideas more.