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By Nora Schwaller
XKCD is a beloved, online nerd comic that primarily involves esoteric jokes about physics and math with a healthy dose of snark. But that’s not all these humble stick figures provide. They can also offer valuable insight and lessons into some of the finer complications of planning: from big-picture issues, to niche problems. Therefore, through careful review and study, you can use XKCD comics to become a better planner. Here’s a quick tour of some of the top applications of XKCD to the planning field.
From the master planning perspective, XKCD can help you plan an execute a project from start to finish by realizing the importance of big-picture thinking:
And providing helpful tips on time management and organization, such as the best ways to start a project:
To budget your time:
And to make a schedule:
XKCD can also help you address niche problems that come up in core course class work, as well as harder issues that you address in topical classes. For example, XKCD provides ample advice on how to create and present helpful maps.
It can help you set up your GIS project:
And teach you how to add that all important design flair:
So that you can present your work in a convincing way:
XKCD has advice for planning specializations as well. Particularly, it has a lot of information on transit problems.
Such as, how to set up roads for everyone’s use:
And prepare for the advances of the future:
XKCD can also assist with your studies by translating abstract concepts to ‘real-world’ situations, like supply and demand and the tragedy of the commons:
Or the real reasons for considering the best years for Census data:
And, finally, it can help you connect with the public. Whether that is explaining your most recent research project:
Or the most recent disaster:
About the Author: Nora Schwaller was a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of City and Regional Planning, where she focuses on disaster recovery. Prior to UNC, she worked for an architecture firm in San Francisco. Outside of class, Nora enjoys long bike rides and short walks, delicious food with good people, and casually perusing information on the design history of contemporary video games and systems.