A few months ago, I published my revised Laws of Mind Mapping in part because I do believe that the Buzan rules are great in-so-far as they go and should be followed except when they are in conflict with the content of the map or the communication expectations of the audience. Philippe Packu initially suggested in his blog a few months ago how to use ThingLink (a free Internet service) to add pop-up annotations to mind maps (on top of a jpg or png). Hans Buskes applied these methods in his usual creative way to additional content areas in several blog posts. Here is my first application. Hover over the dots for comments. I believe that the comments are useful for supplementing the map, presenting technical information or facts, listing citations, and “explaining” the “in” jokes I like to make. CLICK HERE for the annotated mind map. Then hover over or click on the black circles. A box will display my comments on each part of the map.
I corrected a huge mistake in my thinking about mind maps during 2010.
I had started using the program Mindjet MindManager for mind maps at the time version 2 of the program was released. Over almost 20 years I used occasionally used MindManager, alternating periods of a few days of intensive use with months of ignoring mind mapping.
I hardly considered organic mind mapping in the early days because: a) I cannot draw clearly or even print clearly even though Tony #Buzan says everyone can; b) I am a “tech guy or nerd” and damn it, why would I hand draw something if a computer program was available to turn my brilliant thoughts and words into pictures.
Secondarily, how could I possible use wavy lines with labels in all kinds of orientations and colors best-reserved for a child’s coloring book or a circus? I worked with groups of federal/state health policy makers, physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, counselors, grant funders, politicians, and public advocacy groups. Colors that looked like they came from a crayon box and drawings that looked like they were drawn by a second grader would be seen as childish, silly, not useful, and (most importantly) disrespectful by a group of senior professionals in the health/social care areas.
I bought every upgrade of MindManager over 20 years. Those upgrades were pretty expensive for a small consulting firm charging public sector fees less than half of those of private-sector companies.
I had strong misgivings about the MindManager mind maps I presented in meetings about HIV/AIDS services, research designs, elder abuse, optimally training geriatric nursing leaders, statistical analyses, and the many related topics I worked on during my career. Nonetheless I kept presenting the maps and using them in written reports.
I came to the conclusion that the method of mind mapping was primarily a way of presenting outlines in a somewhat novel way that introduced a lot of “white space” into diagrams typically plagued with too many words on a boring and ignored PowerPoint slide. Business executives liked the MindManager approach since it was in their comfort zone (outline in a picture).
I was becoming a Bleeping Idiot for continuing to use MindManager style Outline Mapping.
I read about the iMindMap program in a variety of tweets from individuals I followed on Twitter and started trying the program and then reading much of the collected writings of Buzan; I watched some of the YouTube videos derived from his telecasts.
I thought organic mind mapping was kind of cool. It interested me at first because it would lead to presentations that were far more interesting than the ones with PowerPoint I suffered through 100 times a year (and gave myself to large audiences at least 50 times a year).
A couple of months later I decided that I would give an entire presentation (and the final report) using iMindMap 5 maps to a group at the US Health Resources and Services Administration, the major US government agency for financing public healthcare clinics and programs (and especially those targeted to HIV/AIDS services).
The project was to develop a framework for teaching program managers of US-funded, locally-administered African projects on increasing the number of nurses trained in and providing clinical services for treating HIV/AIDS. The topic was about program evaluation theory and implementation. Program evaluation can be a very technical area dominated by methodologists who speak “numbers” not concepts, acronyms, and is often perceived as excruciating by its participants.
The meeting was with two senior federal grant administrators and USA-funded program managers and service providers, half from the Columbia University (USA) and half from Africa who were part of a six African-nation collaborative team.
I developed a dozen pretty large mind maps on evaluation goals and results, ways to conduct the evaluation and why, how to improve services using the results, respecting clients, and other issues including ethics and reporting results to the funders. The general topics were ones I had discussed with hundreds of groups in the prior 20 years.
All of the mind maps were developed in iMindMap using circus colors, curves, cartoony clip art provided in the program, font coding, and a nonlinear organization. I wanted to animate the presentation by jumping around the map “automatically.” This was before mind mapping programs in general (and iMindMap specifically) included presentation animations. At the suggestion an expert on visual thinking, Roy Grubb (a Twitter buddy from Hong Kong — @roygrubb), I used the program Prezi to animate the jumps around the map into to what could be a presenter-guided talk or a self-running kiosk video.
To say that the presentation was well received by the audience of program managers, senior policy makers, and medical professionals from the USA and various African nations) would be a gross understatement. The presentation was praised, a couple of physicians said this was the first time they really understood what evaluation was, and perhaps more concretely, the participants insisted on having the one-hour presentation evolve into a two-hour greatly interactive and animated group problem solving session that pissed off the US State Department because the participants arrived to their meeting at State an hour late. The evaluation for the next five years of an extremely large funding program in Africa on HIV/AIDS treatment capacity was altered. A subsequent program evaluation project for the African project was funded to our company.
I was just presenting the same-old/same-old conclusions I had evolved over two decades. But the information after I reformatted it into a #Buzan style mind map using the iMindMap program forced me to re-think the overall system of evaluation I believed in so as to prepare a liberating and valuable experience for the audience. The new mind maps were nonlinear THEORETICAL MODELS accessible to individuals with training neither in program evaluation nor mind mapping.
By contrast, the old way i would have presented the same information in MindManager or as bullets in PowerPoint was as nothing more than a formatted outline (or what I now call an Outline Map) and my thinking and that of the participants would not have gone in such creative directions.
I was pleased to find out that one of the meeting participants had been trained in a workshop by Mr. Buzan and that she felt that the presentation mind maps were the most Buzan-like she had seen since the training.
The hundreds of mind maps I have made for this blog have reinforced the conclusion I reached from that HRSA meeting on HIV/AIDS that computer-assisted, Buzan-style organic mind maps and visual thinking methods are far superior to the “traditional” linear methods that are forced by some computer programs that do not encourage Buzan-style thinking and mapping.
Bright colors, contrasting fonts, curvy lines, cartoon graphics, one word per branch, nonlinear organization …
I periodically make recommendations of apps on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone that I find exceptionally useful.
For the 2013 “back-to-school-edition” I picked a rather eclectic group of apps that I use all day as a knowledge worker. Are these the only programs I use a lot. No. But these are the third-party apps I use all day, usually immediately start every time I restart my MacBook Pro, and find very helpful in the generation of new content.
These will actually be a fairly controversial set of program choice. I suggest using a fancy text editor rather than a word processing program for all but the final draft (when it should be polished in Word or Pages). A mind mapping program is continuously open on the MacBook and used to develop ideas, remember thoughts, make lists and schedules. An electronic white board or pin board is indispensable to what I do on the computer all day.
The entire suite of programs I suggest in this #mindmap cost less than $200 in their PRO versions as I write this. In all cases, get the PRO versions and skip the freebie, lite versions.
This set of software selections will probably surprise you.
Click on the image to increase its size.
THIS IS THE ORIGINAL MIND MAP.
The second version has identical content to the first one but uses formatting to make the map more “memorable” (or attention grabbing). In visual thinking, small changes in graphics may make large differences in understanding and remembering.
Well not really ….. unless you think that all there is to life is using your Mac Book or Air.
Two months ago, Apple replaced ny 17 inch 2011 MacBook Pro (without cost) with a new 15 inch MacBook Pro with a retine screen. They had tried three logic boards (essentially new computers) in the aluminum unibody case to try to fix the Thunderbolt port. Apple was nice enough about this although I had to be firm with them that if Thunderbolt would not work on the four separate logic boards (original + 3 replacements) then there was a flaw in their overall logic board design. (I do note that absolutely no screaming was necessary; they are cool — negotiate in good faith and let them suggest solutions and do not necessarily take the first one offered.)
I brought the new machine home, turned on the power, and selected my Time Capsule as containing the most recent back-up of the prior computer. 15 hours later my new machine was my old machine complete with passwords, app settings, preferences, datasets, and everything else. The restoration was NOT for just the Apple apps but all apps on the original machine.
If you go to school or work with your Mac or store photos and documents and email on the Mac, get off your ass and get the get the free (included) Mac app Time Machine running and backing up the Mac automatically. You can use Apple’s Time Capsule hardware or any other external hard drive on your computer attached with a wire or logged on to the same wireless network as the external hard drive. Installation is a semi-complex thing, but if you cannot get automatic backups running within 15 minutes, consult a sixth grader.
My intellectual property is worth many thousands of times the relatively inexpensive cost of adequate automatic backup hourly. And secondary periodic backups of the primary backup drive to another external drive.
How much do you value your intellectual property? Your upcoming college degree? Your work products? Your family’s pictures?
I believe that college and grad students are not encouraged to take enough control over their own destiny. To help address that issue, I have periodically presented a mind map for a paradigm that would produce graduates who can and will take more responsibility for their own careers and probably have stronger analytic skills.
That map, in its fourth draft, is presented at the end of this post.
I never really thought about my own college and grad school experiences as “seizing responsibility” until recently but in fact they were. Here are some personal stories from the years 1968-1976. Such options are probably more available today than they were for me, but to be honest, it was NEVER especially hard for me to “get away” with this stuff. And should you think all of this was possible because because I was the person at your high school or college who got the highest SAT and GRE scores you are wrong; I always scored high middling or low high. None of the opportunities I had were offered to me because I had 800s on tests.
When I was a first year in high school, I read about a reaction of the US government to the fear of the “Sputnik” experience (the USSR beat the USA into space and would nuke us to death) in funding a pilot program at 10 colleges to admit students after their junior year of high school. I marched into my high school counselor’s office and announced that I was going to college after my junior year. Fortunately the guy I spoke to (before announcing this to my parents) said “OK” but we have to change your classes. To convince my parents that I could graduate from high school, he worked out a deal with the local high school administrators to grant me a high school degree, counting my first year of college as my fourth year of high school if I made it through that year. My parents reluctantly said try and I started my junior year classes in my sophomore year, taking both 2nd and 3rd year math simultaneously and jumping into 3rd year English. In my junior year I skipped chemistry and jumped into physics, 4th year math, and an experimental social science class. For no reason other than the fact that I was fascinated by the 1968 election, I asked my social science teacher if I could do a survey of student attitudes, and he helped me get access to all his classes and taught me how to hand calculate cross-tabs. An extremely dedicated Latin teacher had me in her Latin 3 class and then stayed after school to individually teach me Latin 4 so I could get credit for four years of language study. And I applied to the University of Massachusetts (15 miles from home), Yale (65 miles away), and Lafayette College (150 miles away), the closest three of the 10 experimental programs. UMass recruited me heavily, Lafayette said OK, and the Yale alumni rep who interviewed me decided I needed to apply the next year after graduating from high school and was rather discouraging about the likelihood that I would ever be admitted to Yale.
In the fall of 1968, I started college as as a math/physics major and took a required social science class (I chose intro psychology). I immediately became a psych major when I found out that the first year class was a self-paced one in which you read the text yourself, monthly lectures were optional, did a couple of rat learning experiments yourself, and took 20 module tests whenever you felt like it to establish competency. Wahoo. Never looked back from psych. I did not really know what it meant to commit yourself to a field that requires a PhD as the entry level degree as I had no idea what a PhD was.
In 1969, transferred into Fordham in the Bronx, NY, because my new wife was in the the US Navy stationed in Queens, NY (long and separate story there). In spring 1970, I did an outrageous thing. Faced with the mandatory Intro Stat course in college, I went to the professor after the second class and informed him that the textbook was so easy that I could take his final exam any time and use his class time to do something else rthat would teach me something new. He told me OK, but only if I would agree to accept the final score as my grade and if I flunked to retake the entire course at a later time (no safety net). So we set an exam date of about a week later, and I got an A in the class and an invitation to be a research assistant in a PhD dissertation on single ganglion learning in cockroaches (lots of stories here I will omit) under his direction. Unbeknownst to me he started telling other faculty about my outrageous behavior (in a very supportive way) and hooked me up with another professor (Bill Lawlor who was also a Jesuit priest) who had arranged a tiny program of “a psychology year abroad” in the New York State Psychiatric Institute (one of the premier psychiatric research instituions in the world at the time) — 50% first semester of junior year, 100% second semester of junior year, 50% of first semester of junior year. Wahoo.
I worked with two of the pioneering psychiatrists in the use of lithium carbonate in bipolar disease and the genetics of the disease, and convinced them to let me and the unit psychologist submit an article to a peer-reviewed psychiatric journal. I ended up as the second author of an accepted article by the end of my junior year. And then convinced them to support me in the summers after my junior and senior college years with the promise I would do it again. By the end of my senior year, I was the first author on another peer-reviewed article and two MDs and two PhDs had made my career with their generosity in permitting me to be the first author on a paper. Wahoo again.
Yale liked the idea of a new grad student with two papers in press and so admitted me to their PhD program after my initial failure at geting to their undergrad program. Wahoo.
My first semester of grad school, I told the Director of Graduate Studies that I did not need to take the required first course in statistics that he taught. He had an emotional reaction and wrote me off as another arrogant hippie (yes, when I started grad school my hair came all the way down to my belt and there are some VERY interesting stories from that era I will NEVER tell). The second semester I aced Bob Abelson’s stat and experimental design course, and he became one my two most important teachers over the remaining year of grad school.
In the first semester of my second year of grad school (1973), I took a very unusual combination of three courses (Individual Differences in Cognition taught by a cognitive psychologist, Dynamics of Psychopathology taught by a psychoanalyst, and Imagery and Daydreaming taught by the breakthrough psychologist Jerry Singer who became my most important teacher). Hhmmm, how would the three courses go together. Could there be different types of cognitive styles that would partially determine how individuals experienced the world and developed pathological and highly successful strategies for dealing with day-to-day life. Empirical research by Garner, Jackson, Messick, and Witkin on cognitive styles, Shapiro’s theory of neurotic styles, and the first generation of computer models in psychology were of huge interest to me. So, I went to all three professors and asked if I could combine to their three required term papers into a single paper. Drs Day, Mahl, and Singer agreed and I came up with the idea of a computer model (actually implemented in Fortran) of cognitive styles in “normal” and “abnormal” personality functioning with the computer model used to validate the theory by determining whether it could reproduce the empirical research of Garner, Jackson, Messick, and Witkin. Each professor gave me an Honors grade and incredible feedback. I modeled the book length manuscript on the pioneering conceptions of Day on communicating (teaching) others how to use psychology who also served as the day-to-day advisor on the project.
All gutsy moves. Each was individually possible only because innovative faculty members were flexible, open to innovation, and supportive. Risky? Extremely. Worth it? Yes for me. I thank each and everyone who helped me in such major ways.
Was I smarter than everyone else? Not at all. Was I willing to take more risks? Yes. Could it have been done without supportive teachers willing to accept creative models of learning, training, and self development. Absolutely not. Was I willing to fail? Yes, but I was arrogant enough to think that was unlikely. Should you do it? I have absolutely no idea.
What worked for me? The answer is proposing innovative ways of learning APPLICABLE TO ME to highly supportive and qualified teachers and taking responsibility for making the models work.
Here is what I would do 35 years later. My model also incorporates many important ideas from Buzan on brainstorming and integrating information that I have learned in the last three years and many recent technologies.
One more time a favorite DVD (CARS, yes I like smart-assed animation) got the much dreaded and permanent scratches yesterday thus relegating it to the junk yard and meaning that my $15 was spent for a product that died just from repeated use. I have two conclusions about DRM. First, the folks who passed it into law were idiots. Second, Apple must have made a lot of contributions to Republican PACS to get DRM passed and thus increase the value of their digital download monopoly. Probably both are true.
Banks and online merchants use fairly sophisticated algorithms to identify probable cases of financial fraud and then protect themselves from the consequences of lost or stolen credit cards, etc. One of the most prevalent forms of elder abuse is financial. Aging adults are attacked by predators trying to get them to refinance their homes with reverse mortgages at exorbitant rates; make huge gifts for “kindness” from strangers; and one scheme after another. Sadly, much of the financial abuse is perpetrated by family members. And predatory financial scams are often targeted at aging immigrants to the US. Instead of just checking credit card records for fraud so as to protect themselves from liability, banks could use the same types of algorithms to scan withdrawals from savings and brokerage accounts as well as charges to credit cards to determine if they are atypically large for someone in their 80s. (At least in California) Banks are mandated reporters (to law enforcement) of suspected financial abuse of elders. Wouldn’t it be nice if banks used the algorithms they already use to protect themselves (at the expense of your privacy) to at least protect older individuals (at a loss of the privacy they already gave up when they opened accounts) from the scum who try to separate cognitively impaired or depressed seniors from their lifetime savings? Wouldn’t that be nice …..
A few thoughts about the importance of knowing the theories and prior studies in the content area of the modeling and data collection and data analysis and generation of conclusions.
You can’t model data without knowing what the data mean.
Click on mind map to expand.
We have had many data science fields in the past 50 years. Among others, the fields include applied statistics, biostatistics, psychometrics, quantitative psychology, econometrics, sociometrics, epidemiology, and many others. The new emphasis on data science ignores content knowledge about the data and their limitations and the permissible conclusions.
We do not need to replace a round wheel with a square one.
Can Big Data/Data Science avoid the train wreck of Big Pharma? I believe that the Big Data disaster will make the Big Pharma issues seem small in comparison.
But the issues will be about the same. A lot of the Big Pharma execs have become quite skilled at “beating the system” using “undocumented science” and many will move to Big Data and employ all of their very “best” moves and tricks. Big Data/Data Science has the potential to hurt the average individual even more than the greediness of Big Pharma.
1976. No PCs or Macs. Not even a Sun workstation. NO Internet. No email. No fax machines. No handheld device more powerful than a simple HP calculator with a few math keys (for $300 in 1976 dollars; $19.99 today). No online bibliographic searching. No laser printers (dot matrix printers had just started to be available). It cost about $3/MINUTE to call from the East to California: everybody wrote letters. No C, no Starbucks, no handheld phones (most people did not even have the landline cordless phones). Color TV was not available in the majority of homes but Monday Night Football was (on B/W TVs).
I used to spend 12 hours a day in the Yale (later UCLA) computer center punching cards to access primitive versions of statistical programs (the now defunct BMDP and Datatext and the first version of SPSS). I was totally delighted in 1976 to get an IBM selectric (pineapple) typewriter for my office. Very few people had access to CRT terminals, so most used punch cards.
It cost $3000 a year to save as much data as my iPhone holds using the 1976 technology of hard disks (monsters about the size of my home heating units which can keep 25,000 cubic feet warm in the winter).
Hard to believe we made it to the moon with less technology. Or supported medical centers, the IRS, and the Library of Congress with the technology of the mid 1970s.
Yup, it was hard to be a technology worker in the 70s and 80s. On the other hand, the bridges and roadways were in fine condition, there was a working rail system, schools were better and actually taught students to read, and people would pick up the phone when they wanted something and communicate with the other party in an interactive way. And your boss did not expect you to be working 2 extra hours every night for the company on your PC, smartphone, or tablet.
Often one wants to “test” (logically, intuitively, deductively, empirically, through expert observations) what results from employing different strategies in business, personal life, healthcare, and education. The following mind map shows some of the issues in testing scenarios.