Graphic design solutions for humanities content: The Visualink editor from the Adlershof start-up Whim_GbR is a tool for creating digital charts to improve teaching

03. May 2021

Graphic design solutions for humanities content

The Visualink editor from the Adlershof start-up Whim_GbR is a tool for creating digital charts to improve teaching

Wen-Min Ji, Gemma Benítez Terreu © WISTA Management GmbH

Wen-Min Ji (l.) und Gemma Benítez Terreu at the HU Gründerhaus on Wegedornstrasse © WISTA Management GmbH

Wen-Min Ji not only studied philosophy, biology, and architecture, but is also very good at drawing. Working as a student assistant at Humboldt-University’s philosophy institute, the 28-year-old used her talents to communicate philosophical ideas using hand-drawn charts. In early 2021, she founded Visualink with a group of like-minded people. The female founders’ goal was to improve teaching, make content easier to understand, and enable more people to tap into the findings made by the humanities.

 “During my time as a tutor, I realised that charts helped students to understand issues better and quicker,” says Wen-Min Ji. Consequently, she asked herself why teaching personnel in qualitative social research and the humanities did not resort to using charts more – and quickly surmised that it probably had to do with a lack of confidence in their drawing abilities. “Why not, then, develop a user-friendly app that helps to create such charts in a quick and easy way – and improve teaching this way?”

Wen-Min Ji found that her co-worker Clara Hagel, who had already some experience as an editor for animated teaching videos, was also a committed product developer, and they soon took on Gemma Benítez Terreu, a software engineer and designer. Early this year, the three of them founded Whim_GbR, secured funding from the Startup Incubator Berlin, moved into a space at the Humboldt-Startup-Inkubator Adlershof, and developed a prototype for Visualink. This editor makes available graphics developed especially for communicating abstract content, which users can drag-and-drop to create digital charts.

“In the humanities, but also in the qualitative social sciences, ideas and theories are typically communicated using only text, which is time-consuming and often quite complicated,” Wen-Min Ji says about the project’s background. “We are closing a gap with the Visualink editor. Until now, nobody was providing the appropriate visual content to change this.”

Ji believes that the graphics created with the editor will accelerate and improve teaching of complex ideas and logical arguments. Moreover, digital graphics can contribute to making humanities content more accessible for people outside of universities and thus facilitate more participation and exchange.

“We currently only have the graphics. However, we will gradually develop the editor into a multi-media app for research and teaching, which can also be used for knowledge organisation. The app can then be used as a PDF reader, for example, for combining graphics with text sections and visual notes,” says Gemma Benítez Terreu, the software developer. While Clara Hagel has since left the start-up team, she is still involved in programming the backend with a group of interns to help. In the longer term, users will be able to upload their content in the cloud, collaborate, and share graphics in a library.

By Nora Lessing for Adlershof Journal