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The Power of Visualization

Did you ever watch the great TV series “Homicide: Life on the Street” (“Uppdrag mord” in Swedish)? It’s an American fictional police series about the Baltimore Homicide Unit based on the writing of my all time favorite writer/producer of TV series David Simon (Generation Kill, The Wire, Treme). One integral part of the show was a whiteboard used by the unit. “The Board” was divided into columns — one for each detective—and under each of the detectives’ names, a list of victims, either in red or black depending on the case’s open-or-closed status.

This is how David Simon described the Board:

“In the time that it takes the coffeepot to fill, shift commander Lieutenant Gary D’Addario (Al Giardello in the series) can approach the Board as a pagan priest might approach the temple of the sun god, scan the hieroglyphic scrawl of red and black below his name, and determine who among his [detectives] has kept his commandments and who has gone astray. The board reveals all: Upon its acetate is writ the story of past and present. Who has grown fat on domestic murders witnessed by half a dozen family members; who has starved on a drug assassination in a vacant rowhouse. Who has reaped the bountiful harvest of a murder-suicide complete with a posthumous note of confession; who has tasted the bitter fruit of an unidentified victim, bound and gagged in the trunk of an airport rental car.”


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