Posted December 23rd 2010 at 5:13 pm by
in Making Sense through Diagrams

An Introduction to Carlos’ World of Diagrams

When I make a diagram, I just draw. My only goal is to understand what’s going on. I make diagrams when my head is exploding – the amount of information that I’m receiving is too hard to digest. Conversation is not enough. Writing is out of the question because that’s not how my brain works. The logical choice, and the only choice, is to diagram. Basically, my diagrams are maps of how my brain is processing information on different topics.

Click on the diagram to see it full sized.

When I started this diagram, my goal was to understand the components of one of my current projects. When I make a diagram, I start with the simplest aspects of the project – things I can easily understand, things that are very clear and concrete. Then I ask myself, or the people I am working with: How do these initial components relate to each other? For this diagram, I drew the initial components of the project (developing a climate action plan; energy efficiency retrofits on college campuses; and a sustainability action plan) and then I said to myself: “Ok, now you have some elements. How do they relate to each other?”

I start by connecting one thing to another. If I can’t connect them, I look for intermediary concepts that could connect them, to make a bridge. When I find that things are starting to have more complexity, such as hierarchy, relationships, or funding, I enhance those areas of the diagram accordingly with colors, dash lines, arrows – whatever.

This post is part of a series called Making Sense through Diagrams. Carlos Espinoza-Toro uses diagrams to understand the world.  Each post features one diagram, however rough, and a little bit of information about it.

4 responses to “An Introduction to Carlos’ World of Diagrams”

  1. Stefanie says:

    I love your diagrams, Carlos! I want to learn how to do this! I’m looking forward to seeing other posts you put up so we can get a glimpse inside your brain.

  2. Thanks very much Stef. I would also encourage you to post some of your own diagrams. In this manner, we could learn together.

  3. Ninya says:

    Carlos this diagram is great! And it looks like we have similar things on our minds – at BostonCAN we are trying to figure out how best to network all the community-based climate action work going on in the greater Boston area, and how to provide them the resources they need.

  4. Dear Ninya,

    Thanks for your comment. I would love to see your diagrams regarding the networks of climate action work as a blog post in colab radio. I hope you have some time to do so. In addition, please let me know where I can learn more about your effort.