Metaphors & Visualizations

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My daughter Maggie is just as obsessed with metaphors as containers and conveyers of meaning as I am — though she works through illustration while my medium is words.

We’ve started a Metaphor book list on LibraryThing — which anyone can add to.

See her latest project here — “explainers” about Javascript and coding — related to her job at Egghead.io. She’s releasing about one a week via Twitter at the moment.

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I must mention a book Maggie recommended — and which we have in our library for computer science students — Grokking Algorithms. Lots of online access options — also see animations on YouTube.


For a more extreme example of trying to explain something complicated using simple words and images, see this set of “Baby University” board books created by Chris Ferrie, a quantum physicist and father of young children.

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You can read his metaphor for quantum vs. classic computing, “The minimal effort explanation for quantum computing,” on his blog. Now see how he simplifies the concept of quantum computing using images and minimal text in this selection of pages from his children’s book.

We have all these books in our elementary library right now, and I’ll definitely be buying some for our secondary library.