As far back as I can remember, I’ve struggled to be able to express what was in my head. Whether it was drawing, writing, design, I was never happy with the result.
It took me over a decade to be able to give life to my ideas and ideals in the form of words, software, and art, in a way that satisfies me. 10+ years probably sounds like a long time, because it is. But it took creating Kinopio for me to realize just how powerful expressing yourself to turn ideas into understanding really can be.
Self-Expression Is a Productivity Superpower
Throw a rock and you’ll hit a new productivity tool you can use to Get Things Done and change your life, or your team at work.
But this one’s different, I swear. You can add comments, color-coded labels, stuff things in folders, assign them to other people, generate charts, and ask chatGPT to summarize the nightmare we’ve created.
But it’s all basically just,
- Write tasks,
- Do tasks
Instead of putting lipstick on a pig, what if we looked a little closer at the little oinker?
Starting with step one,
- Write tasks
We’ve all read vague, flowery, way-too-long documents and plans that use a lot of words to say very little – or nothing at all. The tasks this kind of writing creates in any tool is a classic case of garbage in, garbage out.
“Being misunderstood is one of the most frustrating feelings in the world” - Kali Uchis
Being able to clearly express your thoughts is the unsung productivity superpower: your thoughts become actions that you feel confident doing, and your plans become tasks that your team feels inspired to execute on.
But getting the thoughts out of your head is its own special kind of work.
The Thinking Work Before the Work
We have an endless number of thoughts and ideas swimming around our heads every second of every day. Because the mind is an inherently messy, creative space, organizing your thoughts is less like cleaning your room, and more like fishing for pearls:
Dive in, swim deep and collect what shines. Then refine and polish what you find for others to cherish.
Or, as Rain put it,
“When an idea first arises, there’s still so much shaping, transforming, deleting, expressing, before you can arrive at a semblance of a place. Kinopio is perfect for making sense of this in-between state.
It’s also […] a constant reminder of the magic in software”
Who Kinopio Is For
I didn’t create Kinopio to be a better whiteboard, or a Miro/Mural/etc-killer. The origin story is way more basic than that.
While designing mockups and writing technical specs in previous jobs, I got into the habit of writing and moving ideas around using the text tool in design software. Being able to write this way was creatively liberating and inspired me to build a spatial thinking tool that anyone could use, by themselves or collaboratively.
Communicating your ideas, the thinking behind them, and expressing more of yourself is scary – right up until it becomes second nature.
Kinopio helps you get over that hump. It’s a tool, and a community, for those who dream of being understood.
P.S. Here’s the thinking space I used to make this blog post