Pragmatic 23A: Maximum Erasability Follow-up 1

14 June, 2014


Follow up (Part A) to Maximum Erasability where we touch on the size of the whiteboards and colours used and how that relates to usability and also a handy tip on erasing permanent marker marks using a dry-erase marker. Thanks to Nick Radcliffe.

Transcript available
This is Pragmatic Follow-Up Part A for Episode 23, Maximum Erasability. I just wanted to touch base quickly on the whiteboards discussion that I had with Seth Clifford. And I had some interesting feedback from Nick Radcliffe. And Nick brings up another rather interesting series of observations regarding the uses of a whiteboard whiteboard from a non-collaborative context, which is something that I sort of touched on briefly in the episode, but I didn't go into much depth. So I think it's definitely worth just quickly talking about. One of the problems with whiteboards is size. So it's fairly easier to get a smaller whiteboard, but the larger the whiteboard in size, I find that that helps as Nick has said in his feedback, is that the larger the whiteboard, the greater of the area that the thinking and sketching area and the sheer size of the whiteboard actually will help when you're coming to focus ideas because you're not as constrained by space. Having a large canvas can make a big difference because the more information you hold then the more interconnections between that information you can draw and sum it all up in a single view. So I completely agree with that sentiment and I think it's a very interesting way of thinking about it. The other issue that he raises is colors. It may sound a little bit strange but I agree that the more colors that you have the better because you can sort of diversify your context. I hated going into meeting rooms where there's just one color. It's either blue or black usually because normally when you buy the pens you'll get the four different color dry erase markers and you usually got black, red, green and blue. So bottom line is is that I would expect those four as a minimum. But as always seems to be the case, the lighter colors seem to get dark because of, as I said in the episode, people drawing over the darker lines, it destroys the tip. And for whatever reason, you end up getting stuck with the dodgy blue or the dodgy black marker. So I think the color seems, and as Nick points out in his feedback, colors sort of seem more natural on a whiteboard and they can add a little bit of depth, which is really good. Beyond that, he also mentions one of his extra peeves was anyone that leaves around discovering that there's a marker that doesn't actually work and they put it straight back in the tray or on the table instead of throwing it away and getting another one. And of course, that leads to that situation where you got to go and find some more, which we did sort of talk about. But the bottom line is, yeah, I really do hate that. It's like if the pen doesn't work, chuck it out. So yes, I'm into that one, Nick. Thank you. And he also points out a trick that I didn't mention on the show but I was aware of and definitely bears mention. If you do, someone has used a permanent marker on a whiteboard, what you can do is you can get a dry erase marker and you can essentially draw over the top of it. So if you sort of squiggle over the top in a thicker line, the chemical that they use in the dry erase marker is a solvent that stops it from permanently staying on the board. And by doing that you are essentially applying that same solvent to the permanent marker and that will tend to lift the permanent marker off the board. My only word of caution, because I've done that many times, but my only word of caution doing that is that it will contaminate the marker you're using so you really do need to match the colour and that's something that Nick points out as well in his feedback. So if you've got a black permanent marker, use a black dry erase marker to erase it. Thank you very much Nick for that feedback, much appreciated.
Duration 3 minutes and 44 seconds Direct Download

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John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

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