Turning a book into a visual story
We provided author and neuroscientist Bobby Azarian with our services for visual knowledge management collaborating on his upcoming book The Romance of Reality.
Meet Bobby Azarian
Bobby Azarian holds a PhD in neuroscience and is a freelance writer. He has published over 100 articles on science, technology, politics and philosophy with internationally renowned media such as The New York Times, BBC Future, The Atlantic and The Huffington Post. Bobby first became aware of Infinity Maps through Complexity Explorer, an educational project of the Santa Fe Institue.
In addition to his own media presences – the Psychology Today Blog Mind in the Machine and the Substack Road to Omega as well as the YouTube channel of the same name and the Facebook page Science is sexy – Azarian is a frequent interview guest on podcasts and web shows such as The David Pakman Show, The Damage Report and The Young Turk’s The Conversation. Azarian also served as a scientific advisor on the Emmy-nominated YouTube premium series Mind Field.
How to make complex topics accessible?
Upon finishing his forthcoming book, Bobby faced the challenge of introducing his theories to a wider audience and engaging both professionals and laypeople with his cutting-edge findings.
Thus, the idea was born to offer an Infinity Map to complement the book, allowing both experts and laypeople visual access to the theories proposed in the book.
Infinity Maps not only provides researchers with a visualization tool to clarify ideas and select the most important aspects for communication, but the Maps can also be shared through a variety of media such as articles, or videos for visual facilitation as well as promotion.
The Romance of Reality contains passages which might be challenging for readers who have not previously engaged with the underlying research. Additionally, the publication highlights research topics that have not yet been sufficiently examined and are of interest to professionals.
In order to convey the topics covered in the book in a way that appeals to both target groups, they must be neither too abstracted nor too hard to grasp. Hierarchical structure and cross-linking provide a remedy. Users can get an overview on the surface or dive into details.
Infinity Maps visually represent the multi-layered topics and interrelationships of the research, allowing them to be grasped in their true complexity.
Maps can be shared privately or publicly as needed and can be embedded in other media via link or as an iFrame. Single diagrams can also be displayed via screenshot or can be exported to be used for illustration of texts or in videos.
The presentation mode allows for autoplaying or navigating the Map along a path similar to sliding through a Power Point. Real-time collaboration opens up the discourse and lets you invite contributors.
Research is an ongoing effort. Therefore, it is an advantage if the complementary media can be continuously updated. Infinity Maps can not only grow over time, but are also flexible when it comes to concept or design changes. Once created, diagrams or entire Maps can be updated at any time in light of new research findings.
Upon finishing my book 'The Romance of Reality' I learned about Infinity Maps through an inquiry of the ComplexityExplorers' Facebook group. I was immediately intrigued by the idea of adapting the book as a visual story.
Mapping The Romance of Reality
I don't think there would have been any way to make the material accessible to a layperson without Infinity Maps, which allow ideas to not only be connected but nested.
Brainstorming & Concept
Bobby decided to work with Infinity Mapper Oliver to create a publically available Infinity Map. Since Bobby is located in the U.S. and Oliver in Europe, they met online and used Infinity Maps’ collaboration feature to brainstorm ideas and develop a concept for the Map together. They aimed for the Map to be reviewed along with the book, but also to be comprehensible on its own. They agreed on including both introductory and in-depth texts as well as pictures and original diagrams.
The Romance of Reality unifies findings from various fields of study in its argument for a paradigm shift in the sciences. To illustrate this idea, Bobby and Oliver have designed diagrams. They synthesize all the scientific theories discussed in the book and convey Bobby’s interpretation of them. Infinity Maps’ unique nesting principle allowed for clear hierachies and easy-to-grasp connections.
The collaboration resulted in an inital Map which makes the key concepts of the book visually accessible. Bobby has shared the Map in various media to facilitate conversations and promote an understanding of the theories proposed in the book. He has used Infinity Maps in presentations, on social media, in a YouTube video, and in his newsletter. More articles featuring the Map are yet to be published. With the release of the book in June 2022, a more in-depth Infinity Map will also be available.
I'd recommend this tool to any scientist with a complex theory and a story to tell.