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Figure It Out: Getting from Information to Understanding

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Have you shopped for a new TV or tried to choose a healthcare plan? What about making sense of a medical diagnosis or your taxes? In all areas of life, we are surrounded by understanding problems. We're given information, but not understanding. Figure It Out looks at various ways you can help people make sense of confusing information. It shows you how to think about information as a resource that makes sense of confusing topics. This is THE guide for working with information.

432 pages, Paperback

Published May 5, 2020

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About the author

Stephen P. Anderson

2 books22 followers
Stephen P. Anderson is a speaker and consultant based out of Dallas, Texas. He spends unhealthy amounts of time thinking about design, psychology and leading intrapreneurial teams—topics he frequently speaks about at national and international events.

Stephen recently published the Mental Notes card deck, a tool to help businesses use psychology to design better experiences. And, he’s currently writing a book on “Seductive Interactions” that will explore this topic of psychology and design in more detail.

Prior to venturing out on his own, Stephen spent more than a decade building and leading teams of information architects, interaction designers and UI developers. He’s designed Web applications for businesses such as Nokia, Frito-Lay, Sabre Travel Network, and Chesapeake Energy as well as a number of smaller technology startups.

Stephen likes to believe that someday he’ll have the time to start blogging again.

Bio from http://poetpainter.com/about

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Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
Profile Image for Walter Underwood.
279 reviews19 followers
June 21, 2020
This is the first book in a long time where I've made notes in the margins. I'll be going back and making more notes, too. I made the notes before I read the section that used notes in margins as one example of how we interact with information to organize and understand it.

Interacting with things to understand them is a central idea of this book. It isn't just about "Figuring it Out", it is also about figuring out how we figure things out, then turning that around to help make things and ideas that are easier to understand and figure out.

I'll give one example.

I've been working in web and site search for twenty-five years and consider myself an expert, but I learned a new and useful persepective on navigation and search. The authors map our three main tools for interacting—feet, hands, and mouth—to the techniques of navigation, manipulation, and conversation. With navigation, we move to a new space or turn to a new perspective. Things look different. Search is differentt, a kind of conversation. We say something, the search engine replies. It might be an answer, it might be an indication that we were not understood. But unlike navigation, we are still in the same place. Faceted search is powerful because it combines navigation and conversation. Move to a new perspective, then keep talking.

This book has earned a place on my shelf. Mine won't be showing up used, so you'll have to buy your own copy.

Profile Image for Noer.
48 reviews1 follower
April 20, 2021
This is one of those mind-blowing books that expose how much our brains simplify reality in order to make sense of things. It also teaches one how elaborate the learning process is: The words we use, the gestures we make, the emotions at play. Everything matters!

The reason why is that each factor elicits associations, which is how our brain makes connections. Evolution is a lazy process and it works by using what's already there.
Profile Image for Adam Amran.
16 reviews12 followers
October 26, 2021
Brilliant book. I learned quite a lot about how people understand, how it's about associations and interactions. I learned about the role of metaphors, external (visual) representations or stories. Perhaps most importantly, I learned that understanding is about recognising patterns.

And there's still so much to learn from this book. Therefore I'll be definitely coming back to some parts.

For a designer like me, understanding how understanding is created (I know, very meta) is important knowledge and this book teaches about it very well.
Profile Image for Amy.
Author 1 book33 followers
November 12, 2020
Definitely one to keep handy as a useful reference. Information dense and relevant to any job where you need to make sense of the world or help others do the same.
August 30, 2022
I found out about the job of analogies, outer (visual) portrayals or stories. Maybe in particular, I discovered that understanding is tied in with perceiving designs.
Splendid book. I advanced a considerable amount about how individuals comprehend, how it's about affiliations and connections. https://www.2gna.com/
There are a few cool chunks of shrewdness to a great extent, however generally book goes from discussing the best kind of bolt in PowerPoint to "design language of cooperation" to unimportant strawman assault on calculation sheet programming.
Profile Image for Mikhail Filatov.
181 reviews7 followers
May 17, 2022
This book seems to be a pet project of a designer and psychology PhD, they fill it with all topics they have interest in.
There are some cool nuggets of wisdom here and there, but overall book goes from talking about the best type of arrow in PowerPoint to "pattern language of interaction" to petty strawman attack on spreadsheet software ("they allow only one view"... what, ever heard about Pivot Table :) ).
Profile Image for D Levine.
58 reviews1 follower
July 4, 2020
My copy is marked up to highlight points both Anderson and Fast make and how it applies to how I approach my work. L
Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews

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