Top critical review
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Sketch-noting is about capturing ideas, not about art.
on January 3, 2013
First of all, this is a beautiful book, having a matte(?) finish, full of illustrations, using the very medium to 'deconstruct' itself. I even love the accent color (orange) used throughout the book. Loved the guest sketch noters. Don't get the Kindle edition. Appreciate the book in its native format as the author intended.
The videos were okay. I felt they added little value, as the author merely clarified the concepts in his book. Given the passion the author has for sketch-noting, I kinda expected him to burst upon the screen like those guys from the infomercials. He had a business-like demeanor in front of the camera. If there was just one chapter worth watching, I would suggest watching the segment where Mike does a sketch note in real time, listening to Mr. Mueller. Oh- the online videos were not captioned. I would suggest that Peachpit require that future video submissions have subtitling and/or captioning.
I primarily bought this book to give me ideas and techniques that i can share with my students. Then, they can make meaningful connections in studying their subject matter, i.e., Math, Reading, Science, in a visual way. It's also nice to undertake some sketch-noting during those professional development workshops. This book delivers for me, full of little tips I can immediately put to use.
I feel that this book was somewhat superficial. It is indeed a quick read. I would have liked more coverage on Dual-Coding Theory, for instance. Little coverage was given to speaker patterns. What about having a 'listening triage', weeding out white noise and capturing relevant ideas? What if someone in the audience has an insightful idea? A heated debate? I'm not asking for a full blown treatise; just better coverage on listening and capturing ideas quickly and effectively.
Another example; I rely on sign language for communications. In a meeting, I just can't look down and start doodling (or jotting) away. I have to watch, and retain as much as I can before there's a lull in the meeting, then I furiously scribble down my notes. At least, sketching images may be an acceptable substitute in writing notes during lulls as they're quicker to make and i can get back to the presentation at hand. In this book, Mike describes a 'brain cache' area, but doesn't really explore it. I would have liked to acquire better memorization techniques so I can hold ideas until I put them to paper.
Mike Rohde is correct that sketch noting is an invaluable addition to a person's toolset in acquiring, retaining, and making meaningful connections between ideas. Not only Dual Coding Theory helps us understand why we retain and make meaningful connections between ideas in a visual manner, it is also kinesiology, the very act of sketching, that helps tie it all together. Thus, sketch notes have the most value to the person who did the notes; it truly helps him/her retain and understand what was presented at that workshop, meeting, etc. Even sketch noting while digesting a heavy treatise helps an individual better grasp and utilize the ideas being learned.
However, I find an odd disconnect in treating sketch notes for wide distribution via social media. Sketch notes have little utility in communicating ideas to other people who were not present at the meeting, workshop, etc. I've looked at a couple of sketch notes in the wild and really couldn't understand them. I may grasp bits and pieces, but i get the feeling that I had to be there to understand these sketch notes fully. That said, sketch notes have some utility for communicating ideas with people who actually attended the meeting, workshop, etc., but didn't do any sketch-noting.
I may be missing the point, but why would sketch noters share their sketch notes on social media, when they are ill-equipped vehicles in communicating ideas? Is it because they may have some intrinsic artistic merit? Just treat sketch notes as a tool that a person can utilize in capturing and synthesizing ideas in a visual form, and not for any intrinsic artistic value they may have. Overall, a good book.