# Visual versus language learning and the mistake of thinking you’re the shit

I worked with a programmer once. I was looking over his shoulder and he showed me some code of his. He typed it out. It was quick. It took me a second to read and understand. He was explaining. He said:

"You see, I don't think about things visually. That way I can do things more quickly than people who do."

So he's a language thinker, not a picture thinker. Some things can be thought of in many ways

For example, the sum of the series of counting numbers can be thought of in language as a mathematical equation *and* it can be thought of as a picture. This function:

f(n) = [n^{2} - n] / 2

:gives the sum of counting numbers from *1* to *n - 1*. This can also be thought of as:

Even if you're not a mathematican, *n ^{2}* is the whole square,

*n*is the orange squares, and just the white squares is their difference divided by

*2*—that's the sum of counting numbers from

*1*to

*n - 1*. So you can think of this concept well and quickly in multiple ways

You can probably think about it in other ways, too. If there was a programming environment where you could program with blocks, you wouldn't need to think about the equation. Even though there isn't such an environment, the equation is easily derivable from the picture and the picture is easily derivable from the equation. These are equally valid ways to think

My fellow programmer was bragging that he was quicker with language thinking than picture thinking—and I'm sure he was right. But neither one is quicker in general. To assume a position of cockiness (in his case pro-language and anti-visual) is a mistake. There are many ways to think about a problem. Mine, yours: are not superior. They're just the peculiar ways we do things