Thomas West tells a series of stories that illustrate how visualization technologies help to identify and educate highly gifted and creative visual-spatial thinkers who may otherwise suffer in traditional learning environments due to dyslexia or other language challenges.
Prior to writing In the Mind's Eye and Thinking Like Einstein, Thomas G. West worked with engineering and consulting firms where he managed a large international renewable energy research, design and training program in Egypt for USAID, participated in and led trade missions to Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia, helped to redesign a nationwide computer information system and integrated strategic planning for several federal government agencies, with periodic travel to the Middle East and the Far East. He holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in International Relations, English Literature and Philosophy.
West is the son of American Impressionist painters Charles Massey West, Jr., and Anne Warner West who met when they were students in the early 1930s at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia--where they both achieved the top prize (in 1934 and 1936), traveling scholarships for painting and study in Europe. He is preparing a book on his parents’ lives and work. Coming from a family of artists, engineers, stunt pilots and inventors, it is not surprising that West learned to read very late and is a strong visual thinker--eventually being diagnosed with dyslexia when he was 41 years of age.
In the Mind's Eye--Creative Visual Thinkers, Gifted Dyslexics and the Rise of Visual Technologies (Prometheus Books, 1997, 2009) profiles the lives of 11 famous people with high visual-spatial and creative abilities along with dyslexia or related language weaknesses--showing the complex mix of language problems with very high capabilities in technical, scientific and mathematical fields, among others. The book summarizes related neurological research and discusses the impact of increasingly powerful scientific and information visualization technologies in the hands of people who are naturally inclined to do high level work by thinking in pictures.
The book was selected as one of the "best of the best" for the year by the American Library Association. A second edition was released in September 2009 with Foreword by Oliver Sacks, MD, who states: "In the Mind's Eye brings out the special problems of people with dyslexia, but also their strengths, which are so often overlooked. Its accent is not so much on pathology as on how much human minds vary. It stands alongside Howard Gardner's Frames of Mind as a testament to the range of human talent and possibility."
Thinking Like Einstein is the result of a column on the broad effects of visualization technologies entitled, "Images and Reversals," written by Thomas West for Computer Graphics, a quarterly publication of the international professional association for computer graphics artists and technologists (an organization with many creative, visual-thinking dyslexics). In 2004, West's columns were collected into a book with the title: Thinking Like Einstein--Returning to Our Visual Roots with the Emerging Revolution in Computer Information Visualization.
West is now working on a third book, this one dealing with visual thinking, high creativity and role of diversity (including Asperger syndrome, dyslexia and other conditions) in several leading-edge businesses as well as several individual scientists and technological innovators (including one UK family with many visual thinkers, many dyslexics and four Nobel Laureates).