I have been writing (and mind mapping) a lot recently about the need to make sure that mind maps purported to contain “expert” information are valid, reliable, important, and data-driven. I have noted that I also think these mind maps are better communication devices if they are “organic” (in the sense of Tony Buzan) and “artistic” and creative. And I am fairly sure that valid and memorable organic mind maps can be much better for encoding information into memory.
The best example I have found of a profesional who consistently produces valid, reliable, important, data-driven, organic, artistic mind maps is Hans Buskes who posts his work frequently on his blog mastermindmaps and tweets as @hansbuskes. Dr Buskes’ maps have well-researched information that meets current standards of excellence, are easy to understand, and data-driven. Look at his two English-language e-books on mind mapping. The book available on iTunes is offered for free.
I view the work of Dr Buskes as the standard I hope to achieve.
The examples are partial screen clips of two of Hans Buskes’ maps. See the mastermindmaps blog site for the full maps and explanatory materials.
Content is Queen. The ultimate point of any mind map is to use and present information clearly in a way that communicates conclusions that are valid, reliable, and important.
Some examples. Are all of those mind maps floating around showing psychological variables and purporting to illustrate major findings and theories actually using valid information? (Guessing what all people feel like or how they learn and thinking it must be valid since, after all, you are a human, is probably not an indication that you are using highly valid data.) What is the expertise of the individuals who generated the information portrayed in the mind map? Was the information based on empirical studies, well-established theory, the musings of a pop psychology writer, what your Mom taught you, what your best friend thinks, what you saw in a movie? Did you (as a student or casual reader) just read a popular psychology book and accept what that person wrote on how you can be more rich, famous, happy, socially connected, sexy,and thin?
Much attention in mind mapping goes into the “artistic presentation” aspects of the maps, the colors, the rules, the images. And yes, prettier, neater, more original, and more creative maps are probably better received than those that use none of the great tools of visual thinking. But the reality is that the clothing does not make the person nor does the artistry of the map make the content more valid or reliable or important.
The first mind map below shows some of my thoughts and suggestions about how mind maps should be reviewed by experts in the content areas being addressed if the map will be used for purposes other than personal learning or process documentation or as art. That is, if the point of the map is to present facts, then the purported facts really need to be checked by someone who is an expert in the content area. In most cases, I have no problem with authors being responsible for their own work so long as they clearly state their own expertise levels and where the data for the mind maps originated. I have a big problem with someone who is not a trained mental health professional telling the world how to diagnose depression or ADHD. If the author of the map is not an acknowledged expert presenting her or his own work, then the source and limits of the information in the mind map need to be stated, and in some cases, independently evaluated.
The second mind map is actually just the first one produced in iMindMap exported into the alternative computer program MindNode Pro. Is the first map prettier than the second? Sure seems so to me. Is the first map more valid? No. It contains identical information. Does the first map communicate better than the second? Sure seems so to me.
Keep in mind that the goal of most mind mapping is to present valid, reliable, and important information in way that is easily understood, easily remembered, and easily communicated. Using this criterion the first map is probably significantly better.
The third mind map is identical in content to the two maps just considered but was generated using default options in the program XMIND. The style of the mind map is similar to that of another program (Mindjet AKA MindManager), and is that many argue is the best for presenting information to those in business.
Hopefully by the time you read this, you will have looked carefully at the actual content of the mind map in one or more of the variations. Content is Queen; it is all about the ideas. In the process of mapping, we need to incorporate references to the source of the information displayed. Pretty is good and memorable, but is not more important than the information presented. Content is Queen, although she does look better in a nice dress or business suit.
There are lots of different applications of mind mapping methods to such areas as brainstorming, task management, scheduling, journaling, and sharing basic information (great day to play basketball!). Other mind maps may tell us about scientific experiments and theories, political arguments, historical events, anatomical features of the human body, the quality of hotels in Barcelona, or expert rankings of world football (soccer) teams projected to finish near the top in the World Cup tournament. How do you know a real expert has ranked your favorite football teams correctly? How do you know that the student who created the cute mind map of the human body as a subway map actually put in the correct names parts and names? What are the professional qualifications of the “expert” who says the world is flat? Do experts believe the purported expert who drew the mind map? Is the information in the mind map you found and downloaded from the Internet really going to tell you what you need to know for your organic chemistry test in two hours?
I sure hope my doctors studied from factually correct mind maps, not just pretty ones given away by a pharmaceutical company. And (since I have a doctorate in psychology), I am really sick of seeing mind maps that say they contain psychological principles that will make you happier, thinner, less anxious, more sexy, and help you self-diagnose whether you have bipolar disorder and which drug would be best to help you and should be ordered from an Asian or Mexican pharmacy over the Internet (URL at the bottom of the map).
Mission critical information in mind maps should be carefully reviewed by experts in the content of the maps to minimize the number of cases where misinformation hurta people . If such a review has not been done, or if the author of the mind map does not provide adequate credentials to assess professional competence, I recommend you do not use such information for making personal or business decisions. While I love artistic maps that are well-designed and “clean” in their appearance and spend a lot of time trying to emulate the best, adherence (or not) to the mind mapping rules of Tony Buzan and the use of a wonderfully artistic program, in no way does or does not make the information in the maps correct. Think about that carefully the next time you download a mind map from the Internet and try to study or make a business decision; that’s a fact, Jack.
It’s also a fact that these comments also apply to infographics, concept maps, and other information visualizations.
My next post is going to have a lot to say about the importance of content and how to assess whether that pretty map you just found contains valid, reliable, and important information.
Write the equation on the screen, the app uses handwriting recognition to translate it, and up pops the answer.
The following examples were all generated on an iPhone 5. The diagrams are the output from the calculation (easily stored as photographs or emailed). Landscape orientation is much easier to use than portrait orientation.
The following figures show is a sequence of calculations. The equation is altered by adding extra calculations to the equation.
Cool. Fast. And big attention getter in a meeting. You too can be the coolest nerd.
For many years, I was a heavy consumer of cable network news. I had (and still have) a TV in my home office that used to run all day on one or more cable news networks. As I started to participate in social networks and blogs and following the links for news suggested by others, I found social networks a much better delivery system for high quality news, comment, discussion than cable news. “Twitter killed the Cable Network News Star.” My observations about social media and cable network news are shown in the mind map below.
topics and subtopics: Cable News Versus Social Media My Conclusions Social Media (Twitter) consensus better less acrimony more cooperative participatory more interesting Traditional Cable News not participatory not multidisciplinary contentious more dogmatic boring talking points Discussed Here cable news Fox NBC CNN CNBC others content knowledge current facts debates learning process issues debates learning acrimony vs harmony consensus cooperation vs competition social media Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Facebook Social Media multiple views citizens professionals politicians students stakeholders repeats short time amplification repetition greater audience greater involvement emotionality controversy no $s most participants no fame illusory illusory in social media factual preferred fosters democratization stakeholder consensus process minimal polarization learning 360 degree knowledge views emotional reactions biases desired outcomes functional reasonably polite positions stated 140 characters news link blog link see many views short time disciplinary stakeholders potential further process steps resolutions solutions in selected networks Cable News divisive competing politicians talking heads financial incentive abrasiveness disagreement politicians attorneys repeats same video clip arguments arguments new video clip interview controversy = profits ratings business plan future fosters competition acrimony polarization selfishness silo thinking dysfunctional group consensus information source not balanced fair valid
Yeah, I know most Americans do not want to hear this.
You are required to wear seat belts, in part because of the potential for brain injury sustained from a crash.
Football helmets do not provide adequate protection during football games OR practices.
There are lots of alternative sports without the same high potential for brain injury.
Hundreds of professional football players (and their doctors and lawyers) are certain that the players’ current cognitive and motor problems were caused by playing football: they are suing for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Don’t quote the Constitution to me like you do when rational people want to control the sale of guns. The Constitution does not guarantee you the right to kill yourself or your children or your peers by playing a team sport.
This figure shows my current core set of apps. I use these about 90% of the time when I am on the iPhone (in addition to the built-in apps). This set of apps permits you to do some pretty advanced calculations, manage tasks, write longish memos, clean up your pictures, use social media, show movies, take notes, and store web pages for later reading.
Who woulda thought in 1967 that tricorders would exist during the lifetimes of my high school friends and I; cell phones did not become available for another 20 years, and the original scientific calculator was released about 1974.
Now half of the adults around me in a college town look like Spock staring into his beloved tricorder (about 8 times the size of an iPhone). A lot of them seem to have about the same degree of social intelligence as Spock as they stare at the machines in restaurants with their friends.
Without further ado, a look at what is on my iPhone.
BIG Data is coming (or has already come) to healthcare. [It is supposed to usher in new eras of research, economic responsibility, quality and access to healthcare, and better patient outcomes, but that is a subject for another post because it is putting the carriage before the horse to discuss it here.]
What is a data scientist? A new form of bug, a content expert who also knows data issues, an active researcher, someone trained in data analysis and statistics, someone who is acutely aware of relevant laws and ethical concerns in mining health data, a blind empiricist?
This is a tough one because it also touches on how many $$$$$ (€€€€€. ¥¥¥¥¥ , £££££, ﷼﷼﷼﷼﷼, ₩₩₩₩₩, ₱₱₱₱₱) individuals and corporations can make off the carcass of a dying healthcare system.
Never one to back away from a big issue and in search of those who value good healthcare for all over the almighty $ € ¥ £ ₨ ﷼ ₩ ₱, here are some of my thoughts on this issue.
Click image to zoom.
Content knowledge by a well-trained, ethical individual who respects privacy concerns is Queen. Now and forever.
I wouldn’t go on a bus trip with a driver who is unlicensed. Would you?
Who is driving the Big Data bus? Data scientists? Mindless algorithms? Content experts and their teams of data scientist support staff? Marketing? Security firms (including those run by governments)? Terrorists?
I say this once, I will say this a million times … Content is Queen.
Algorithms that are primarily empirical without an understanding of the validity of the data being analyzed and the theoretical issues are dangerous.
An algorithm can predict — and I have no doubt several are doing so at this minute — how happy I will be on a global question (how happy are you?) or a behavioral index (at a sporting event, at the bank cashing a check, four days after the death of a parent) or the perceptions of others (just got tagged in somebody’s photo, got mentioned in a tweet, had a happy blog entry, had birthday, just had a child born, got back a favorable medical test result, used a smiley face).
I have observed and analyzed and proposed new ways of measuring “happiness” and “anxiety” and “grieving” and “intelligence” for 40 years. I don’t really know what “happiness” or “anxiety” or “grieving” or “intelligence” is although I do know a lot about how experts have tried to define these constructs. I do know that a blind algorithm is not going to answer the question of what “happiness” is.
Do you want an algorithm driving the bus or someone who knows the limits of current data? I don’t want a blind algorithm predicting whether I am “happy” (and happy enough to buy something). I don’t want a blind algorithm predicting the economy. I don’t want a blind algorithm predicting how many healthcare visits I should receive under health insurance.
Content is Queen. The algorithms that drive the organization of Big Data need to be guided by content specialists (psychologists, sociologists, physicians, nurses, economists, physicists, chemists, bioelectrical engineers, etc.) not data scientists without expertise in one or more of the relevant content fields.
If the Queen rules, all will probably be well in the kingdom. If blind algorithms rule we probably will end up as batteries in The Matrix.
I vote (before it is too late) for the monarchy of content. I am not a battery.
The USA has no highly visible, charismatic, scientifically-medically experienced, brilliant, and creative leader-spokesperson for federal healthcare programs. IMHO, the last one we had was C. Everett Koop in the 1980s.
Since being such a leader should be a Cabinet-level position, the best-qualified leader would get the same salary as an out-of-work former governor or political operative in the Senior Executive Service (about $200,000).
I favor a “healthcare czar” position to which the directors of various health-related US federal agencies report.
The effects of having a great leader with oversight on most major US healthcare initiatives would be huge. A positive thinking, creative individual should be able to get $100s of millions (or billions) out of the healthcare system while increasing quality. Instead of squeezing physicians on Medicare reimbursements we need someone who can squeeze the bureaucracy to lift money-wasting and unnecessary health regulations, squeeze the health insurance and big pharma industries to get-real about their profits, and energize the general public to personally address such preventable diseases as those related to obesity, alcoholism, tobacco use, and unwanted pregnancies. Such an individual could get cooperation from the press to research and write stories about positive system change.
Such a change costs only the small expenses of a search committee compromised of prominent health stakeholder groups, and the commitment of the President to health- and socialcare.
There are 100s of great medical-science leaders in the USA who can do a fantastic job of getting healthcare coordinated and understood by the public. Koop was a conservative, traditionally religious, Republican who took on the religious right over his medical conclusions that the reality of good medical practice in the USA had to get over homophobia and hatred of the homeless drug abusers in order to dampen the effects of the HIV epidemic. He also took on the major of lobbies of the tobacco industry in stating clearly that tobacco was addictive and responsible for millions of deaths. Koop’s politics were almost opposite to mine but the actions he concluded were necessary were the same as I would have taken from my liberal vantage points. Just as a conservative Republican can do an excellent job of guiding the healthcare system if she or he is a committed medical-scientist, so too can a liberal Democratic medical-scientist do a similarly excellent job.
Go ahead dismiss this idea. Then go back to reading my posts on your big Cinema Monitor from the company who had a charismatic leader and type your responses on a keyboard from the same company.
You want a great US national healthcare system that is efficient, treats patients and healthcare providers fairly, and stresses prevention and patient-centered care? Get a great leader. This individual will cost only about $200,000 per year and some ego stroking by POTUS and the Press. Let the unemployed former governors go find out what it is like to live on unemployment benefits and use Medicaid.
WTF hasn’t the search committee already started to form?
Aaahhh… GiGo (garbage in/garbage out). The GiGo phenomenon haunts data analysts, statisticians, researchers, theorists, and someone who loses their identity.
So these huge [health] datasets we keep hearing about … who controls them? what is their validity? reliability? utility? who else gets to see them?
And the data mining algorithms… proprietary or public? based on which tests and algorithms? who developed? who validated? are the methods valid? reliable? have utility?
And the results coming out of big data and proprietary data mining algorithms… reliable? valid? useful? clearly interpreted? limitations stated? misinterpreted?
Is big data and data mining about using world-wide data to find solutions to some of the world’s problems or to sell more books, videos, and cola?
I don’t think anyone really understands the big data sets and their limitations. I doubt that more than a small percentage of the data mining algorithms are valid. I sure as hell do not want somebody blindly using these algorithms on data they do not understand and then helping the government limit healthcare visits for high need, low resource individuals (sound familiar to anyone?).
An experienced statistician-data analyst-methodologist knows that when analyzing a large data set you must spend 98% of your time looking at (and fixing if possible) bad data points. The final 2% of your work is then much more likely to show something that is reliable, valid, and useful.
Big Data may save us, or it might kill us first. Or it might make us Borg or batteries.
Right now the analysts are reticulating splines.
No mo …. GiGo. [Is Nicki Minaj available to record this mantra?]