Info

social, health, political imagery through the lens of George J Huba PhD © 2012-2017

Posts tagged Buskes

I doubt that there are many people expert in mind mapping who would disagree with me that iMindMap is the most feature-laden of the more than 100 programs for mind mapping to be found all over the Internet.

Once a year — as promised when the program was first introduced — iMindMap has a new release that provides many new features and usability enhancements. And unlike others, they produce a great upgrade every year on time. And free from most bugs that live in Cupertino and Redmond.

How good is iMindMap 10?

Click on the mind map (actually mind model in my terminology) below to expand its size. For those of you with no patience or dramatic sense of the big build-up, you can skip directly to the “9” branch. iMindMap is the 8,000 pound gorilla.

As a note, my review was conducted about six weeks after receiving the program and using it exclusively rather than earlier editions. I use a Mac only, and my review was conducted on a 2013 Macbook Pro. I have worked with the program both on an internal 15″ retina macbook screen and a 27″ external monitor. [I actually like using the Macbook screen better.]

imindmap-10-review

Chris Griffiths and his team at OpenGenius have taken the work of Tony Buzan and in the process of developing a program expanded and formalized that conception in a creative way that is brilliant in its overall utility and ease of use. iMindMap 10 is my favorite mind mapping program, but most importantly my favorite and most useful thinking tool. For those of you who do not follow my blog in general, I live with Frontotemporal Dementia and iMindMap has served as a “brain assistance tool” for me since 2010 in daily living and in continuing my professional interests in a creative way. I can accurately say that the various versions of this program “changed my life.”

This is a tool formulated by expensive consultants who want to help corporations make more money while at the same profiting from that help. But the tool has come to greatly exceed the original vision and is intuitive to use and most adults and all children can learn to use the program for free using Internet trainings. Don’t be scared off by all of the publicity about a $3500 training and a certificate signed by a consulting firm (not an accredited educational institution). You do not need a course to learn this program and it is not clear to me that expensive courses help you learn to apply this program in the real world. If you are willing to invest a few hours you can be doing adequate mind maps; if you invest 10-20 hours you can be doing accomplished mind maps.

Get over the hype and realize that you CAN learn this program quickly on your own and even more rapidly if you study examples available without cost at many blogs including this one (Hubaisms.com), a depository of many thousands of mind maps at Biggerplate.com, and many other sites including youtube.com where many training sessions are presented.

While there are four “views” in this program, the primary mind mapping module is the reason for using this program. The other three views are largely alternate ways of looking at the same information and data. While they may be “quicker” ways to collect information together from a lecture or library research, at the end they feed their data into the mind mapping module where the actual thinking work, theory building, model development, and communication is done.

I have a few criticisms of the program, but these criticisms do NOT change my overall rating of the program as A+.

  1. The time map module is really just a Gantt chart of interest to but a few mid-level corporate managers and high level executives who have not yet adopted better ways of team management. As a Gantt chart the module is fine, albeit about the same as most existing software in that area. Unless you are like a friend of mine who manages 10-year projects to send landers to Mars with 10,00 team members, I cannot imagine why you would want to use a Gantt chart.
  2. In my view and that of many other potential users, a “time map” is actually a timeline that incorporates mind map features. While others have tackled this issue (most notably Philippe Packu and Hans Buskes), my formulation was the original. The resulting blog post (click here for a new window) has been the most read one about mind mapping methods on my blog site for FOUR years. I’d urge the iMindMap developers to look at my model of time maps which requires a lot of custom work that I am sure they could easily automate.
  3. For almost all mind map users, the future is using pre-made templates designed by content experts. Purchase a template package and then you can then create your own mind maps by adding your information to the pre-designed expert map for your area whether it be healthcare or project management or writing a term paper or designing a research project or selecting the right clothes for a 5 day business trip. At this time iMindMap does not yet have a way of protecting the intellectual property of template developers which provides little incentive for developing templates as a business and therefore stunts the growth of the mind mapping community.
  4. For this program and all of its competitors, the icon and image libraries are never big enough. On the other hand, you can purchase separate icon and image sets from third-party packagers on the Internet if you have special image needs. iMindMap allows you to use such external pictorial elements extremely easily. My favorite new feature is that you can add icons to their library and size the icons in a custom way. iMindMap’s included images should more fully capture the fact that users of mind maps and their audiences are much more diverse in terms of ethnicity, race, gender, gender-orientation, education, and age than the included image libraries. And hey OpenGenius folks, how about some icons for numbers in colors besides orange and lime so that the color schemes of my mind maps are not destroyed if I number ideas.
  5. More free online trainings would be desirable, and most importantly trainings that do not run at the speed of a bullet train. Two minute presentations that cover 20 minutes of material are somewhat counter-productive. The current videos run too fast for new users and at time for even the most experienced users.
  6. My experience — admittedly infrequent — is that Technical Support is fairly “rigid” in that there are lots of forms to fill out before you get a real chat session going and too many requests to send them esoteric files on your computer. All in all, as technical support goes, while everybody is trying quite hard to be helpful, they ask you to conform more to what is convenient for them than what a confused user can deal with. When I want help or to make a suggestion or make a request for a new feature or default, I want to just compose a short email so OpenGenius can get the right person there in contact with me. I most definitely do not want to complete an overly complicated form. Too much technocracy in that process.
  7. Besides the books of Buzan which are not all that useful for learning the program or how to do real visual thinking in real world applications other than rudimentary management, OpenGenius needs to develop some easier access, very practical books that act as “manuals” and present information in more comprehensive ways than is done now. Old fashioned manuals that are (or can be) printed have a lot of appeal to many.

In summary, this is an amazing program that is much more than a program for mind mapping. It is unsurpassed among mind mapping programs. Additionally it is what I call a “visual thinking environment” or VITHEN. My “criticisms” are minor and do not in anyway diminish my overall evaluation of the quality of the program.

My blog at Hubaisms.com on which you are reading this review was designed and “written” largely in “iMindMap.” Most of the mind maps I use to guide my own “complicated” life were developed in iMindMap.

Exemplary job folks at OpenGenius. Version 10 is an additional large step in the evolution of the program and mind modeling.

In general, mind mapping programs do not export their maps to other formats or seem to export it in a way that seems unnecessarily difficult and at a great loss of the work that went into developing the map in the initial program.

I have never heard this said so bluntly, but let that not stop me from stating the real issues here.

For companies to refuse to promote interoperability of mind maps among their programs (or heaven forbid to develop a common standard file type for mind mapping) makes an assumption that is directly insulting to the user.

That assumption is that you no longer own the rights to your own mind map — specifically to move the ideas easily from program to program — once the map has been worked on in a specific program.

Fortunately Microsoft and Apple got past this nonsense by using easily converted file types that do not lose features between Word and Pages as well as Excel and Numbers. Most other companies make good translations among word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation programs.

I move files between word processing programs all of the time because it is easier to do specific types of formatting in some than others. Frequently I compose in one program in Markup and bring it into the “high feature programs” for creating camera-ready copy. That is my right. I paid for all copies of the programs I use and the text and earlier formatting is my intellectual property.

If you really think you have the best mind mapping program, the best way to prove it is make it easy to import files from another program AND to make easy to export files. After all, if your program is the best users will quickly find that if they move files in from another program they have much better mind maps. Similarly, if your program is the best users will quickly find that if they move files from your programs the minds are not as good.

The principles are quite simple.

I own the content of my mind map.

I own the cumulative formatting I have done on my mind map whether done in one program or many different ones consecutively.

As a customer I find it offensive that you try to limit my ability to make consecutive formatting changes in different programs by having limited or no exporting of my formatting or by not properly interpreting the formatting done in another program.

This is capitalism at the expense of the customer’s right to change products mid-stream because each has different features the user would like to combine. So long as I pay for legal copies of all the software I use, I should be able to combine the use of any with that of any other program while retaining the work I have already done in another program.

 

This is my second post on the world-wide social brain. Click here to see the first post.

Click on the image to expand it.

 

THE WORLD-WIDE  SOCIAL BRAIN  PRIMARILY UTILIZES  VISUAL THINKING

Have any recent pictures of your family or cat or car or your vacation last summer? With the exception of the cat pictures I would love to see them. (I am a dog person, no cat pictures from me.)

A Practical Mind Map Tester, the just-published book by Hans Buskes and Philippe Packu, is the most important book written about visual thinking and visual communication using mind maps since Tony Buzan’s seminal original work.

The book is clearly written and beautifully illustrated. A significant amount of relevant research was reviewed to guide the authors’ conclusions; such a scientific approach is almost unprecedented in this field.

The comments and examples in this wonderfully integrated book are a huge step forward in the use of mind mapping to develop, clarify, and communicate knowledge.

Let me repeat that visually.

Click on image to expand.

A Practical Mind Map Tester

 

6

I’ve been waiting months to be able to purchase the new book “A Practical Mind Map Tester” by Hans Buskes and Philippe Packu.

papierenboekmindmaptester3

Dr Buskes and Mr Packu are, in my opinion, two of the “top 100” most creative and influential mind mappers currently working anywhere in the world. The new book does not disappoint as the authors address the difficult question of “what makes a mind map a good mind map?” with an unique approach and much new thinking on the topic.

I will be posting a very detailed review of the book later as I have a lot of interest in this topic. But don’t wait for my review; the books is currently available on the Apple iBooks Store and is a must-read for mind mappers and those who would like to use mind maps effectively.

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.
huba's laws of  mind mapping

 

 

Stop and think about this. Did you learn to write a several page document when you were in primary school? Of course not. The first few short words were followed by longer words and then short sentences and eventually a paragraph you worked on for several days and eventually you worked your way up to a one-page letter or a short book report or the traditional (and dreaded) first-week of school essay, “what I did on my summer vacation.”

Now for the traditional summer vacation essay.

A sentence …

“In June I went to Jackson Hole, Milan, Barcelona, and Paris.”

Summer 2013

A paragraph …

“In June I went to Jackson Hole, Milan, Barcelona, and Paris. In Jackson Hole, we saw mountains and rode horses. In Milan we saw a castle. In Barcelona we went to the stadium of Football Club Barcelona and went to the beach. In Paris we went to museums and a big tower with an elevator. I liked all of them very much.”

Summer 2013 2

You get it. (Practice makes it easier; start SMALL.)

Just because we are big boys and girls does not mean we can skip straight into writing novels as mind maps.

But with practice we can get here …

Or here …

Or here …

This morning my friend Hans Buskes (@hansbuskes) who gets up six hours earlier than I do (he is six time zones away in the Netherlands) was tweeting about an ancient mind map is a language as yet undeciphered. He mentioned that some computer programs had been run on the ancient manuscript that confirmed that the symbols on it met the criteria for a formal language although the meaning had not yet been deciphered.

This sentence set off a flash in my recently coffee-enhanced brain.

Both I and Hans have been thinking about how to develop syntax and semantics for “writing” in the “language” of mind maps.

As an initial step, why not assemble 500-1000 mind maps that experts agree are exemplary ones from the Bigger Plate archival library and study how their semantic and syntax elements are similar? Scientists have been studying the syntax and semantics of languages for decades (if not centuries) using methods that could be adapted to studying excellent mind maps and developing some guidelines for “what communicates well.”

Coffee is a great thing. I prefer mine American style, in a huge mug, and without sugar or cream. Just turn on the creative juices. (American coffee works a lot better for opening the gates of creativity than that excellent tasting expresso I was drinking in Italy, Spain, and France last week.)

One of the dumbest things that I have seen in the mind mapping literature — primarily written by “professional” mind mappers typically from a business background and with huge hourly billing rates — is that writing in mind map for others is not possible for most people because it is too personal.

Bullshit.

If you have real content to present and use reasonable syntax and semantics, you can develop mind maps that others can learn to read, critique, remember, and use. Better. Stronger. Faster. And as Buskes points out, the sooner we develop common semantics-syntax for mind maps, the sooner we will all be able to read each other’s maps at least as easily as paragraphs. Buskes favors empirical studies to determine the best semantics-syntax as do I.

Judge these assertions from my blog and that of Hans Buskes. If you have real content (not bullshit theories developed from the half-baked understanding of someone else’s work) and employ semantic-syntax constructions designed to communicate to the majority of folks you can find that mind maps offer greater understanding than paragraphs of dense text.

But you gotta use real data and logical thoughts and actually want to communicate with someone else. This is not rocket science, just using skills you should have learned in elementary school by grade four. (Or if you are in the failing American education system by grade six.)

Don’t listen to the nay-saying gurus who have a vested interest in convincing you that you cannot write in mind map (as they can) so that you will pay their large consulting fees.

I believe Hans Buskes and Tony Buzan when they write-demonstrate that good mind maps can be written so that they can be universally understood. And that the skills of successful mind mapping can be developed by most adults and virtually all children. And that the resulting maps can be informative, well-researched, creative, and extremely interesting (see the online work of Dr Buskes). I also believe that communicating through mind mapping can make technical and life skill information more accessible to many more people including those with declining cognitive skills and learning disabilities and mental illness and allow them to better expressive themselves. And that visual data displays and writing tools are now fully supported by computer technology.

The best mind map is an accurate one that the most people can understand.

Not rocket science at all.

A few recent examples are given below. There are 100s of such maps in my blog posts.

image

what neurologically-impaired individuals might gain from mind mapping

Since I first posted this 8 hours ago, my colleague Dr Hans Buskes (@hansbuskes) has been sending me various design questions and suggestions. I added a paragraph at the bottom in blue to clarify issues about controlling for mapping style. The addition is about 8 hours after the original post.

Yesterday, I posted on research designs and data and showing the effectiveness of mind maps. Here are some research questions I would like to see answered to “prove” the effectiveness of mind mapping in certain applications and how the degree of effectiveness may be tied to different models of mind mapping. A lot of discussion about the topic was started and continues on twitter.

This is a DRAFT because I would I like to see others add to my list and or make the questions better. Please add any additional research areas or other comments to this list.

I will not be involved in any mind map research myself. So this is not a self-serving list. Feel free to make it your own if you are going to do the work. I would personally accept good quantitative, qualitative, or mixed quantitative-qualitative research/evaluation data and study designs in making a judgment of degree of efficacy.

I am NOT talking about anecdotal or theoretical evidence or that based upon expert judgments. Nor am I talking about “user satisfaction” with various programs or seminars they attend. I AM talking about studies that pass the tests of scientific inquiry AND the “smell test” of reasonableness and relevance AND empirically assess the major outcomes the mind maps are designed to enhance.

If you need to see this list in a mind map format, I may add one later. Or draw one for yourself using your favorite method.

Note: you need not try to answer all of my questions in one study. Study something small if your want. A technique called meta-analysis that will combine the results of numerous studies, small and big, exists.

I invite anyone to answer some of my questions. I believe the methods do-will prove effective AND the research will pass the standards of PEER REVIEWED SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY. Feel free to make me look smart.

  1. Is the best of typology mind maps, in terms of features, theoretical basis, designs that of a) organic Buzan-type; b) linear business-type (Mindjet and others); c) a miscellaneous category of spider-maps, concept maps, and other techniques often used to produce “mind maps?” If not, produce one.
  2. Are each of the types of mind maps effective in producing increases in learning new information, retaining information in long-term memory, sparking creativity in individuals and groups, communicating to groups visually, increasing the effectiveness of verbal communications, allowing individuals to “write” with conceptual trees, providing better understanding of concepts?
  3. Are some of the methods better for some applications while others prove more effective for other types?
  4. Does an extant theory from cognitive psychology/neuroscience explain the results?
  5. How can existing methods be enhanced using information gained in the series of research studies?

Addition: Covariates — In the set of questions above I have not addressed the natural variations in mind maps that occur because of the way that the maps are stylistically designed. Because such design issues tend to be correlated with the content of the map, I would propose handling such issues as covariates within a research design. So, in addition to the questions above we should ask how the answers to the questions above are related to the map’s structure, ordering, colors, visuals, symtax/semantics, size, and content information elaboration. Note that Dr Buskes and I have discussed this for many weeks and that there are a number of posts on both of our blogs about these topics. Because we would be evaluating an intact whole cognitive element (an entire map), it would be important to “control” for such factors as size, color use, etc., at the same time these factors are studied in conjunction with major models as specified above.

Let’s be honest, there is not enough empirical, hard scientific evidence that mind map based learning programs are as effective as there should be. In fact there is FAR less evidence to support efficacy claims about mind mapping than there should be. This has to be fixed.

Before the mind mappers start cursing me out, put this into context — I strongly support mind mapping and think it should be used far more than it is But I cannot find specific studies that strongly support efficacy.

Don’t flip the channel yet … I am now going to give you the most valuable free consulting I have ever provided anyone.

A few studies give people some training into “who knows what” mind mapping and see if they remember or “learn who knows what” better. Creativity is not measured, communication is not measured, long-term efficacy is not measured, training clinical practice efficacy is not measured, and many other aspects of cognitive enhancement claimed are not measured. Still, I believe that mind mapping is useful for most of these things and mind mapping works.

Now “prove” it.

Here is the biggest reason why mind mapping has not been shown to work in anything approaching a “definitive” scientific study or unbiased evaluation — too many things are called “mind mapping” are all lumped together.

A strong research (evaluation) design includes the following factors.

a) Different things called mind mapping are compared. As I see it, there is are three major things called “mind mapping.” The first is Buzan-style organic mind mapping. My bias is to say that this will work best in most (but not all) applications, but I would like to see hard data that my observations are correct. The second style of mind mapping is that embraced by those who use Mindjet aka Mind Manager and comparable programs. Such a style seems to be preferred among business types, and I used Mindjet (formerly known as Mind Manager) for about 15-20 years with many different types of health- and social-care professionals. Then there are dozens of other methods and diagrams called “mind maps,” most of which probably could be called spider maps. I would clump all of these methods together although I do recognize that the category is very heterogeneous.

Addition to original post: Separating these three categories will almost certainly show that the three clusters of methods are not equally effective for all applications. Combining them together dilutes the effects of the first and second methods because the third is probably comprised of a number of less than effective methods.

b) The effects of mind mapping need to be maximized. That is, the participants learning mind mapping or being taught to read existing mind maps need to be trained by experts (and I mean real top-of-the-food-chain mind mapping instructors) in one of the three types of “mind mapping.” The instructor needs to be a “real pro” at this, not a teacher or consultant who has had minimal formal training in mind mapping. Random assignment of participants (subjects) to one of the three mind mapping conditions needs to be made.

c) A lot of before and after variables need to be measured like memory, creativity, ability to learn new materials, ability to increase upon prior knowledge, sophistication of information processing, and all of the other things people claim about mind mapping.

d) Then the data need to be analyzed for enhancements (or not) from mind mapping according in each of the three three dominant models. That is, there needs to be a study of the interactions of learning one of the three mind mapping models from an expert, type of application, and type of effects.

Show me a dozen studies that support mind mapping (with random assignment, large samples, and conducted by a neutral investigator in this highly competitive commercial area) and I will tell everyone it has been proven that mind mapping works for these 10 applications and not these 5 others and what the best kind of mind mind mapping is for achieving certain goals.

Show me even better and more complex studies and I will jump with glee that my own observations have been confirmed.

Or, if it doesn’t work, accept the fact that this is voodoo, a management-education-training fad, or just plain commercial exploitation. (I don’t believe it is any of these things but I also cannot say YET that science unequivocally understands mind mapping.)

You wanna make the big claims, get independent parties to test them in an unbiased way that meets the most rigid scientific-educational standards. The odds are you will be happy you did as will potential users and educator-trainers.

[If you are an education, psychology, neuroscience, or healthcare student there are a lot of good PhD dissertations to be written in this area.]

A few of my examples of using mind maps from around this blog/website.

Click images to zoom.

blank canvas  apps not  mind maps

Obvious  Answer comfort work 35 crazy computer saturday3 huba's laws of  mind mapping

iPad mailbox app Software  Rankings  Visual Links handdrawn

Irv Oii hubaisms.com  est. 2012 small want

XM Evaluating Mind Maps with %22Expert Content%22 iMindMap5 MapUnited States Presidents Timeline Final

writing in mind map

Upon much further analysis, I have revised my conclusions, April 18, 2016. For my current views click here.

Let’s look at a simple set of perceptual changes and how these may be related to whether people are comfortable with Buzan’s rules of mind mapping.

Please click on the images to increase their size.

All mind maps are generated automatically from ThinkBuzan’s iMindMap program. Consider first Figures 1 and 2. The only difference between the two maps is that the first contains 1 word per branch while the second contains 2 or 3 words per branch. Because the program is parameterized to decrease font size at each new branch, the fonts in the second “incorrect” one seem more important.

The ThinkBuzan Enigma

This second set of figures has font size changes only, Note that the starting font sizes in Figures 1-4 are identical but that those in Figures 3 and 4 decrease less rapidly.

The ThinkBuzan Enigma2

In the top mind map variants (Figures 1 and 2), I used the full default style for iMindMap as it is delivered. The first mind map follows the 1 word rule, while the second uses a 2 word rule.

For Figures 3 and 4, I again used the default style but simply changed the font sizes in the style so that they would not go from large sizes to smaller font sizes quite as rapidly.

Comparing Figures 1 and 2, I want to put more than one word on a branch so it does not seem that the subtopics are dropping in importance so rapidly.

Comparing Figures 3 and 4, I am quite satisfied with having one word on a branch. I note in passing as I look out the window at hundreds of trees in our woods that nature seems to agree with me.

This little experiment came about after a Tweet from Tony Buzan (@Tony_Buzan) about changing one of my mind maps he liked from several words per branch to a single word per branch. I went back over the set of 100+ mind maps I had posted in this blog and realized that my shift from a few to one word per branch in the past few months coincided with starting to manually adjust the ThinkBuzan font size arrays in the styles supplied with the program. It strikes me that something that was not a problem in the era of hand drawn maps because artists would individually adjust font sizes and branch widths for importance now gets handled through a purely mathematically algorithm in all of the automated programs we (almost) all use for mind maps.

Once I started to tweak iMindMap a little in this way (and some other ways, see future blog posts), I came to agree with rules much than I had by taking the program implementation as the gold standard. My inference is that my belief that iMindMap is greatly improved by a little simple tweaking is shared with Hans Buskes (@HansBuskes) as his excellent blog “mastermindmaps” shows such enhancements on a regular basis.

I believe that the Buzan one-word per branch rule is correct but the implementations may need to be tweaked slightly in many of the programs including that of ThinkBuzan. Thanks to Tony and Hans for pushing me to formalize what I had concluded about decreasing font sizes (specifically, if they decrease too fast you want to put more than one word on the branch).

While it is possible to make up more extreme examples, this simple one seems to make the point.

I’d suggest the hashtag #camm3 for computer-assisted mind maps, generation 3.0. I think that it is important to recognize that mind mapping 3 is different from that which proceeded it in that high quality, valid, reliable, and important content is explicitly linked to computer-assisted mind mapping methods and the linkage of content and computer methods is different from non-documented mind maps derived from “who knows where.”

There are many posts on #camm3 and using computer-assisted mind mapping 3.0 throughout this blog. Virtually every blog post on http://mastermindmaps.wordpress.com was created through a process of  #camm3.

Click on image to zoom.

#camm3

If you can tell us something about each of the areas listed below (when relevant and if the information is available , your mind map is probably quite significant. Click map to zoom.

[Baker's Dozen of] Ways to Improve Mind Maps Purported to Present Expert Professional Content

In the past, I thought it was quite ironic that the “pad” apps on the iPad were kind of junky. In the most recent updates that has changed. I now find that there are three great choices. Each is inexpensive. Here’s what I think.

Click on the image to zoom.

3 Legal Pads for  the iPadiPhone

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.



Screenshot_1_29_13_9_02_AM

Screenshot_1_29_13_9_07_AM-2

MindMapp is a brilliant new iPad app for mind mapping posted on the app store in mid-December. You can see my review of the app there. Break-through: this is an amazing app that changes the game, at least on the iPad (and hopefully iPhone).

To say that I highly recommend MindMapp is an understatement. Students and everyone who takes notes should have this app.

A map created in MindMapp about MindMapp. This was my first “real” map, and I know that I will get faster and better at this fairly rapidly. It took about 30 minutes to work through the instructions in the included self instruction module, practice, and then to draw the map.

photo

Uh oh. Some one who defines himself as a content (psychology, social care, health care, public safety net programs) expert is going to go where the experts on mind mapping dare not tread.

My inspiration for this post comes from the application work of Philippe Packu and especially Hans Buskes as well as mathematical models, pragmatism, and the fact that I like to discuss the undiscussed.

Uh oh. Math and mind maps. Scary indeed. What is he thinking?

As I see it, mind mapping has evolved over the past 50 years in a predictable way.

Mind Mapping 1.0 was a discussion of those funny radial diagrams, why they might be important, which types of inquiry (brainstorming, summarizing, presenting, consensus building, information retrieval, memory) might be enhanced by these funny diagrams, feared by many because of the necessity at the time to have at least moderate artistic skills and the willingness to stand up in front of 50 people and display them. The giant in the era of Mind Mapping 1.0 was Tony Buzan who developed a series of core concepts about visual thinking and spread them widely in professional and public circles.

As part of his huge contribution, Buzan developed a series of “laws” of mind mapping. Much discussion of these suggested general principles has ensued. It would not be overstating to say that the degree to which one endorses these laws explains much of a split into different mind mapping “factions.” It is also important to remember that mind map use and training can anchor a very lucrative consulting practice and that factions will almost automatically arise as the consultants seek to differentiate themselves from one another. This is not bad, and the development of factions can drive theoretical development as it has in this case. A second faction of mind mappers – tending to be associated with the computer product family Mindjet – has also arisen. There are other variants lying along a continuum with Buzan and Mindjet defining the end points.

Mind Mapping 2.0 is a glorious era when the whole world can draw mind maps fairly easily using a large group of computer programs (expanding daily) to promote memory, creativity, brainstorming, collaboration, consensus, organization, information encoding, information retrieval, God, country, and Queen. We are right at the peak of that era when creativity has moved us into a period of great growth and enthusiasm. We have at least a dozen good products for expanding the empire, and an audience that is listening. So we need to get an effective, computer-era definition of mind mapping.

Mathematical (and other scientific) models usually go through a series of stages in which specific models are developed and rules of applicability are stated, a period of generalization in which the rules of applicability are stretched to fit more phenomena, and a later stage when the most general model is derived and tested in many different application areas.

The parallel in the mind mapping world was the development of Buzan’s “laws” for successful mind mapping, the “stretching” of Buzan’s model by making his laws more general or even ignoring some of them, and finally a model in which mind maps as we know them are but a subset of a more general model of information visualization (including dozens of similar techniques which go under different names in their parallel development universes). The best taxonomy of related information visualization methods is the Wiki developed by Roy Grubb. A general model can subsume most of the techniques discussed by Mr. Grubb.

My definition: Mind Mapping is a set of information visualization techniques that can be incorporated as a subset within the overall computational equations of a very general computer program iMindMap.

OMG. He’s defining mind mapping in terms of a specific “mind map” program developed by a company partially owned by Tony Buzan. Has he been drinking?

I doubt either Mr. Buzan or the ThinkBuzan company would agree with my definition at this time. They are wrong.

Developing a computer program to implement a information theory model requires a huge amount of effort in concretely defining a number of issues discussed loosely in words. Computers need SPECIFIC instructions. What often happens in (the best) computer program development is that in coding a variety of steps and subprocesses necessary to accomplish a general goal require  that a number of specific decisions be addressed (parameterized). Often rather than making an arbitrary yes/no, big/small, curvy-organic/straight decision, computer programmers implement a parameter whose value can be specified as an option (such as “how much curve do you want in the branch” or “which set of colors do you want to use in a map or “should you allow one-two-hundreds of words on a mind map branch”).

iMindMap is a program parameterized in such a way so that every other mind mapping procedure currently extant can be produced using the program. Hhhmmm. And, various information visualizations not necessarily currently called mind maps (concept maps, timelines, statistical graphics) can be produced in the program. We are seeing a very general information visualization model in the program that permits us to develop different parameterizations that have historically had different names attached.

Yes you can produce maps that look like those prepared from different mind map programs within iMindMap. Yes you can produce concept maps within iMindMap. Yes you can produce timelines within iMindMap. Yes you can produce path diagrams. Yes you can incorporate quantitative data. See the blogs of Hans Buskes and Philippe Pack and others including mine for many examples of generalizing the traditional Buzan model all within the iMindMap parameterization.

iMindMap will probably be rapidly superceded by more general models that relax further traditional assumptions and permit even more parameterizations. ThinkBuzan seems to produce such generalizations annually.

Again note that the general model incorporated in iMindMap can be reduced to specific models or the equivalent of different computer programs depending upon how the general model is parameterized.

I believed that the parameterization based general model should be attributed to Chris Griffiths although many others have undoubtedly also contributed to it as well.

Mind Mapping 3.0 is all about taking the promise of the general information visualization model and incorporating important, valid, reliable, actionable data into the application of the general model. Mind Mapping 3.0 is starting and will become a tsunami in the next five years. I promise.

Note: I often use mind maps in my blog posts. I intentionally did not include a map here because I did not want the style I usually incorporate in my own mind maps to confuse the issues above.

I spent years and years of my professional life being trained in, developing, and applying deductive reasoning. I was taught that the random assignment experiment is the gold standard for science. I’ve seen an entire important field in psychology (social psychology) trivialized and made irrelevant by forcing random assignments and rigid instrumentation into trying to explain synergistic and nonlinear social behaviors (after all what is psychology if not a field of the interactions among people as they progress in a nonlinear way, sometimes forward, sometimes back). The complexity of human cognition has been studied in a superficially simple way by random experiments (primarily with samples of college students).

I do, of course, realize that my position is neither the majority one, nor very popular at all among most academic psychologists, although a few will agree with me (especially those who study diagnostic categories and how programs work in situations where random assignment to service is idiotic and not possible anyway as staff will not withhold what they believe is the most effective interventions from clients).

Who is right and who is wrong? I dunno. We do know which camp writes the most in their beloved peer-reviewed (by their like-minded colleagues) journals.

Recently I have been thinking about which type of mind map might be most appropriate for the different types of scientific method. I have been influenced heavily in my thinking by Roy Grubb, an IT consultant in Hong Kong with an encyclopedic knowledge of methods of visualizing and using information with hundreds of programs that he has studied over 30 years; Hans Buskes, a management consultant  in the Netherlands who has extensive experience in mapping innovative ideas with what a I would term a “semi-organic” approach, and Chris Griffiths in the United Kingdom, whose company ThinkBuzan produces the program iMindMap incorporating what I would term the neo-Buzan organic mind map style.

I would categorize mind maps along a continuum from very linear to the extend that they can effectively be formatted outlines with text snippets and at the other pole, very organic with the extensive use of twists and turns, color, graphics (most cartoon-like), fonts, and other methods to motivate creative approaches and multi-channel memory encoding. The organic approach can be very nonlinear in content, as well as appearance.

Here is a mind map contrasting deductive with inductive reasoning methods in various fields of science, of which my own reference is to psychology and medicine-healthcare. While the left side of the map is about deductive reasoning and is drawn as such and the right side is about inductive reasoning, the overall style of the map is organic. Note that the inductive side gets the “full organic treatment” with font variations, size variations, and a number of cartoons designed to spark associations and multi-channel memory. The left (deductive) side has organic branches by none of the embellishments that are part of the style. This map was produced in Version 6.1 of the iMindMap program.

Figure 1: “Organic Style”

Figure 1a is the same as Figure 1 but printed in 3D style.

The second figure has the same content as Figure 1 but a linear style. I simply converted the model within iMindMap by changing the line style, getting ride of color and font variations, and removing the graphics. I consider this to be a “semi-linear” model; to be fully linear one would also rewrite the text to have longer labels along the branches and many more text boxes for citations, supplementary figures, and other information in a format similar to that of a peer-reviewed science journal.

Figure 2: “Semi-linear Style”

The third version takes the organic map, converts it into a format that can be read by the program XMind, and simply redraws it using the defaults. XMind is derived from some of the earliest open source code and has a very common linear format characteristic of a high percentage of mind map programs including the market leading Mindjet.

Figure 3: Linear Style Using XMind Program Derived from Open Source Code

I came into organic mind mapping a few years ago because I had concluded that maps that look like those of Figure 3 are really just reformatted outlines and the formatting adds little except white space to the presentation. Figures 1a and 1b are more than reformatted outlines; they encourage new associations, multi-channel information encoding, and more attention to the structure.

I’m not very attracted to factory grown/raised  vegetables or chickens either. I think I will start to label my mind maps with this …

Those who follow this blog and my twitter account @DrHubaEvaluator know that I discuss mind maps a lot as I see these information displays as having the potential to improve learning and memory as well as to facilitate the quick and accurate transmission of information and communication among people with different types of professional training.

I have often written about the usefulness of taking notes in mind mapping programs and that the worth of mind maps is primarily a function of the validity-reliability-quality of the information-data-judgments they summarize as well as the ability of the note-taker to listen carefully and take summative notes in a few important words.

Yesterday I read the e-Book Chasing, Capturing and Spreading Ideas: Live Mind Mapping and TED by Hans Buskes, @hansbuskes on Twitter, blog http://www.mastermindmaps.wordpress.com/, available on Amazon. The book is a series of beautiful, easily understood mind maps of highly credible material (a series of talks at a local TEDx event including speakers from many disciplines). Hans did “live” mind mapping of the conference as it was happening and the book is a compendium of these maps.

Yes, you can take exceptionally useful and informative notes during a professional conference (and college lecture, boring office meeting, PTA session, political campaign speech, or the SuperBowl). Buskes discusses and shows how this can be done in a very clear way. He discusses careful listening, summarizing, and mapping techniques. You can judge the results from the use of his methods for yourself; I rapidly learned a lot from his mind maps which I believe convey important information I will remember.

Highly recommended.  The small amount of time it takes you to read this book will have a return on investment of hundreds of hours saved in the future and probably an increased understanding of what you are hearing.

My own style differs about 10% from Mr. Buskes’ in that at the end I would go back and add a few images (perhaps cartoon-like art or snaps I made with an iPhone), but those are tiny differences in style. I think this is a must-read book for college students. Just Read It. Just Learn the Techniques. Just Do It. And ride the Little Engine that Could in the summer in Colorado for inspiration.

Colorado narrow gauge railroad engine. Narrow gauge trains were used in the Rocky Mountains and throughout the US to haul ore. Many small gauge trains ran in the 1870s through the 1930s. This is the Toltec Railroad, now a tourist attraction in southern Colorado.