Canvas for Thinking

  • laying out information spatially seems to work well for me for divergent thinking - putting ideas next to each other, recombining them, rich media and text intermixed on the same infinite canvas
  • keeping in mind Thinking by Writing ideas, canvas for thinking should probably be a very personal thing
    • all my attempts so far, to share the work in progress canvases have failed - they seem to be too close to my internal concept map for them to be useful to anyone else in the spatial form
  • more on spatial software: Fractality of Software Tools, Places in Software

Non of our recent work would happen without Figma. From boards with brief breakdown, desk research, data discussions, concept drawings to WIP screenshots, branding guide and UX user journeys. We bring visual thinking to the way we both design and code.

— Marcin Ignac -

I'm really able to do spatial reasoning and looking at big picture only in Figma

— Marcin Ignac -

  • it's interesting how Marcin uses Figma not for design, but for visually thinking and collecting information
    thinking in Figma
    • these ideas are related to what Muse is doing on the iPad

Oberon's "desktop" is an infinitely large two-dimensional space on which windows (and documents, since the distinction becomes meaningless in some ways) can be arranged


Instead of stacking windows, hiding them behind each other (which is possible in modern versions of Oberon), you simply arrange them next to each other and zoom out and in again to switch between them. When people held presentations using Oberon, they would arrange all slides next to each other, zoom in on the first one, and then simply slide the view one screen size to the right to go to the next slide.


In some ways, this also obsoletes the idea of opening a document. Essentially, all documents can be open all the time. All you have to do to interact with one is to zoom in close enough.

  • no distinction between applications and documents is another case in point for Data not Apps
  • ideas from Canvas for Thinking could be applied to programming
    • laying out functions spatially
    • laying out (embodied data) spatially
      • or maybe a Data Layer that can be toggled on/off
    • mixing code, visual reference materials, and running instances in the same "space"
    • I explored some of these ideas in Protoboard

HHANN was created to fill a basic need of being able to draw on top of the screen. Allowing users to doodle on the OS-level turns the whole system into a canvas for thinking.

Szymon Kaliski © 2021