I Love Whiteboards
Whiteboards are a great medium and a great tool. And as most tools they serve a purpose pretty well. For whiteboards that role is to display information and concepts in ways that might be constantly in flux. Schoolteachers use this when they teach their students new concepts. Teachers draw pictures, diagrams and make lists on the whiteboard to try and convey this information to their students.
But why is this important? It is important because there doesn’t yet exist a medium on modern computing systems that can emulate that same level of flexibility. Information input on computer systems is more inclined to fast types of input, and input types that are already relatively known. Sure, you can prototype diagrams and flows in PowerPoint, but can you really do so quickly and with an extremely flexible connection to other types of data?
The power of a whiteboard comes in when high level planning is involved, when brainstorming is the main goal. I love whiteboards for this very reason - they don’t obstruct my creative process. There is a blank canvas on which I can and freely get my ideas across in very fluid ways. Don’t like the way that diagram looks? Re-draw it into something else. Yes, I absolutely love the availability of software tools, but they’re always so limiting in some fashion or another. That particular project management tool or webapp forces you into it’s already well-defined definition of a concept or task.
In a way, we’re moving more and more towards the capability of a whiteboard. Perhaps the creative end result from software development is to something almost the functionality of a whiteboard. For now, however, nothing beats having a whiteboard when you want to get some ideas out.