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

Posts tagged content is Queen

Click on the image to expand it.

The Process of Writing in Mind Map

 

 

 
<p>The Process of Writing in “Mind Map” </p>

<pre><code>CART Algorithm
basket of
information
useful
understandable
accessible
broad
general
presentation
communicates
light
humorous
but thorough
framework/model
organized
generalizable
step 1
collect
information
lecture notes
books
research literature
observations
graphics
public domain
proprietary
generated
by you
data
sources
public
web
documents
authoritative
private
proprietary
observations
applications
lecture notes
study
presentations
documentation
“writing”
step 2
assemble
rough outline
1st draft
mind map
documentation
step 4
test

communication
applicability
experts
non-experts
effectiveness
with
target audience
others
guide for
future work
add notes
free-standing
within
mindmap
step 3
rework
reframe
additional drafts
reassemble
2nd drafts
review
repeat as needed
important but often ignored part of process
© 2013-2014 g j huba phd
</code></pre>

 

 

 

 

Twitter has almost totally leveled the influence of news and information web sites (and blogs).

2

I get bombarded all day on Twitter with links to information that looks interesting and valuable in the context of 140 characters. I click on a bunch of these links every day.

I often end up on small web sites with very valuable information about healthcare or glaciers or dogs or social data or food recipes or why I should ditch my diet and receive all of my nutrients from kale. Depending on the day of the week I am assailed with information about a Kardashian or three, the student at Duke paying her tuition by appearing in porn, or the obscenity of Putin’s tanks.

Without the constant bombardment of links I never would have discovered my favorite bloggers (@DrJenGunter, @hansbuskes) or many of the thought provoking liberal “get them GOP idiots” cartoon sites or many of the conservative “get them liberal Dem idiiots” cartoon sites. Without Twitter I would not have paid attention to the consistently great information on the web sites of  Scientific American or Discover or Al Jazeera or the BBC or the Association for Psychological Science or the Mayo Clinic or many small regional news outlets including those of more than 100 countries. Without Twitter I would be actively selecting the very few giant media web sites from which I would get my information — the New Yawk elitist times, the la-la optimist times, CNN (the original chicken noodle network), Fox (the we eat chickens network), NBC and ABC and CBS (and the other three and four letter news oligarchies). Without all of the constant links I would not learn about all of the human rights violations worldwide or the most recent breakthroughs in dozens of professional fields (healthcare, medicine, astronomy, physics, nano technology, image processing).

Without  Twitter I would probably spend little or no time on the web sites of news organizations based outside the USA or know about Indie films or see great pictures from outer space.

WOW. There are zillions of great information producing web sites out there, many with such small budgets that they could not even afford a print ad in the New York Times.

Along with the testimonials to “a grapefruit saved my life,” the latest zit removal miracle, and unapproved medical therapies, there are diamonds out there that can expand your views greatly. At times there is TOO MUCH INFORMATION but you can’t find the jewels without going into the mine.

Democratization of the world’s information is a great thing.

You heard it here first …

Taking information from a dubious (wrong!) source and putting it into a mind map does not make the information more credible. Bad advice is bad advice whether is is well-formatted and pretty or not.

Talk to a healthcare provider or seek medical and psychological information, whether in a traditional form or a mind map, from a highly credible online source or a highly credible book.

P T Barnum would have used mind maps. After all, there is a sucker born every minute.

Know the source behind the map.

Click image to expand.

2Who are You   Most Information  in Psychological  or Medical Mind Maps  on the Internet  is Garbage

 

In a prior post, I discussed issues about fonts and their use in mind maps for people with varying types of cognitive impairment. In a second prior post, I showed examples of  using free fonts thought to be useful for individuals with dyslexia.

I spent a lot of time today looking at recommendations about fonts. Generally there seems to be a general consensus that the following fonts may be useful for individuals with dyslexia.

  • OpenDyslexic (one of three variations)*
  • Lexia Readable*
  • Dyslexie**
  • Ventana***
  • Trebuchet***
  • Lucida Grande***
  • Georgia***
  • Comic Sans***
  • Arial***
  • Times Roman***

*free for individuals
**paid
***common and probably on your computer already

Another recommendation is to use a light (beige, pastel) background with a very dark text color (black, navy blue).

Finally, size is an issue with the general recommendation being that it is desirable that the font size be larger than usual.

Would you like to see how different combinations of fonts and color and size work. Click on the image link below and change the fonts, size, and colors and see what happens.

grab64

In a prior post, I discussed issues about fonts and their use in mind maps for people with varying types of cognitive impairment. This post contrasts an original mind map from another recent post to four variations which use different “dyslexia” fonts. Note that the four dyslexia fonts are all available without cost to individuals.

First, the original mind map with an “artistic” professionally drawn font. There is no claim that this font helps or hinders those with dyslexia from reading the map rapidly and accurately.

Click images to expand.

mapvocacy

Here is the same mind map in three variations of the OpenDyslexia font (free).

mapvocacy opendyslexic mapvocacy opendyslexicalta mapvocacy opendyslexicmono

The final example uses the font Lexia Readable, another free font created for those with dyslexia.

mapvocacylexireadable

Of the four “dyslexic” fonts, I prefer the final variant (Lexia Readable). But I do not have dyslexia and so cannot say anything about how well it will work for even one individual (me).

None of the fonts illustrated nor a quite expensive professional one (Dyslexie; not shown here but very similar to the free OpenDyslexia) has strong empirical evidence that it helps those with dyslexia read faster or with more accuracy. Some tiny and flawed studies do suggest efficacy for these fonts for dyslexia, but I do not take the evidence seriously and much more study is needed.

[Note that this post has NOT addressed the issue of whether curved branches should be used or avoided for maps that may be used by dyslexics.]

What do you think?

MAPVOCACY with straight lexia

My personal plan is to provide a second version of some of my mind maps that eliminates curved branches and uses the Lexi Readable font. I do not know if these changes will make the map more readable for those with cognitive impairments (primarily dyslexia), but it certainly does not hurt to put in a little extra effort.

I wish somebody had taken notice of the things I said in the past 45 years of my life about

  • peace
  • universal human rights
  • healthcare reform
  • free education
  • equal opportunity
  • equal access
  • fairness

Better late than never, here is a new tool that might help ensure that people listen …

mapvocacy

If you read this blog regularly you know that I experiment a lot with mind mapping methods and try to analyze how they might be best used to promote active visual learning.

It all really comes down to one conclusion — mind mapping methods help you think better. And active thinking is part of the “real” definition of mind mapping.

A few thoughts. Click on the image to expand.

Image

vdk-453-star-many

I use my Mac, and its software, primarily as an aid to thinking about everything from what to buy at the grocery store to how to develop large healthcare systems (after all, nobody working for Secretary Sebelius is doing any thinking so …).

I do not need a word processor or a spreadsheet or a statistical program. Rather I need a thinking environment, a writing environment, and a visualization environment. And a bunch of utilities to enhance the “big programs” that never come with all of the bells and whistles I need.

This is what I like for the computing needs I have. Remember … the computing needs I have.

If I only could choose four of these programs, in order these would be …

  1. iMindMap7
  2. Ulysses III
  3. Aperture
  4. Scapple

Click on images to expand.

G HUBA'S TOP MAC APPS OF 2013

or in 3D rendering …

G HUBA'S TOP MAC APPS OF 2013 3d

Developing effective sketchnotes and synthesizing knowledge into accessible mind maps can be complementary processes. Information captured in the sketchnoting process might be best expressed later as a series of mind maps. Some thoughts about combining Tony Buzan‘s work on mind mapping with Mike Rohde‘s break through creative work on sketch noting. Combining these methods can result in exceptional ways of communicating knowledge one well-conceived page at a time.

Click on image (twice) to expand.

Synergy MM SN

Big Data (in service to the NSA) wants to be able to document what you do and when and where and with whom. All of the current databases that companies and public agencies maintain can now be tightly linked to get a pretty good profile of any individual.

But, these models of what people will do when you ask them to buy a DVD of Thor 2 or a suit from Brooks Brothers, are actually fairly dumb brute force computer algorithms that break down when certain types of problematic data are fed into them.

Hhhhmmm. Some thoughts below in the mind map. Click the image twice for a full expansion.

SCREW UP BIG DATA BROTHER

Click image to expand.

2MV  P

As of last week, iMindMap 6.2 was the best mind mapping program available from any vendor. As of this week iMindMap 7.0 has blown 6.2 away, making a huge leap forward. The gap between iMindMap and the other mind mapping programs on the market has widened considerably.

iMindMap 7 is much more than a mind mapping program but rather a visual thinking/teaching tool and environment, within which mind maps are a large, but certainly not the only, component. In addition to the best mind maps available, the program can produce flow diagrams, path diagrams, concept maps, visual notes (like sketch notes), and combinations of all of the above.

iMindMap 7 is a visual thinking tool for a complete visual thinking environment. The app expands upon the mind mapping theory of Buzan and presents a much more elaborated environment for visual thinking and visual concept development than has been available before. And, just as importantly, to use apply this theory and use the tools of iMindMap 7 you need not be a “computer wizard,” “a professional mind mapper,” or a long time user of earlier programs and visual thinking theories.

I see the release of this program as the beginning of a period in which visual thinking and visual communication becomes even more important and used. Tony Buzan and Chris Griffiths have done a spectacular job in getting the theory and implementation so far along this path already. I hope they release a new book shortly.

Click the image below to expand and see my formal review. Note that I probably used less than 60 percent of the features of the program in the review map, and there is a lot more to explore in subsequent posts with differing types of information.

iMindMap 7  initial review final

Oh, did I mention that iMindMap has a “presentation mode” which makes PowerPoint obsolete. Here is a video of the review above running in an automatic kiosk mode. There are a number of options for the presentations that can be applied depending upon the type of audience and the map content. And it can be presented in 3D which I chose to do. [For this example, a tiny file size with low resolution optimized for the web was used because the intent is simply to illustrate the feature, not crash the server. Note also that the low resolution does de-emphasize the 3D effect; 3D looks extremely good at HD resolutions. I also included a HD version which may give some servers trouble. Both presentations have the same content.] Click below to start the video (about 3 minutes).

low resolution

high resolution

If you don’t like the timing of the slides or the type of transition or the order, you can easily change these settings and reload the video.

[Footnote: I started programming mathematical algorithms in FORTRAN in 1970, published my first of several computer programs in peer-reviewed journals in 1973, and published an early mathematical algorithm and FORTRAN program in 1984 that was a precursor of what are now called concept maps (under the rubric in statistics of “path diagram” or “structural equations model”). Between 1977 and 1984 I published a large series of “visual mathematical models” of drug abuse etiologies and consequences using the LISREL programming environment. In comparison to all of my former experience with computer usage in real-world applications, this is the finest software application I have used in the 40+ years of my career. I am delighted I have the opportunity to use this app to explain some of my ideas and create new ones.]

Mind mapping is a wonderful tool. Many use it to inform others of important facts and make sure those facts are remembered, understood within context, associated as appropriate with other knowledge, communicated well, and result in learning. I endorse the successful use of mind mapping.

Mind mapping is a wonderful tool for informing.

Mind mapping is a wonderful tool for misinforming.

Think about this. If the method makes the learning of “good” information faster and more accurate, it does the same thing for “bad” information, idea garbage, or propaganda.

You need good information to map. You know, the kind that is scientifically proven, well interpreted, important, replicable, unbiased. You know what I mean. (The kind of good information that would never make it onto the Fox Cable network.)

So it is really simple. Show me the source of the information and what evidence supports it. I will decide if it is a diamond or zirconium. Nourishing or poison. Message from heaven or hell. Mac or PC.

Do not tell me you have a map of some important psychological issue when you do not have a single citation to replicable science, or at least well-accepted theory, anywhere in the map or the accompanying text.

The problem of presenting bad information and helping others learn it well is probably the most important when the content is derived from medicine, healthcare, psychology, or education. Personally I care less if a business person hires the wrong management consultant and buys the Brooklyn Bridge, but that is a matter of personal preference and I still would not like to see shareholders hurt. You want to teach it in a way that improves the chances that it is learned? Make sure it is true.

A mind map is a METHOD. The mind map should be used as a METHOD to accurately report correct, important information. A mind map may make information look more valid or important than it is, so the author of the map has to be responsible fully researching the information to be presented BEFORE MAPPING. To map information that you do not fully understand is doing a disservice both to the reader and to your reputation.

Click on the image (twice) to fully expand.

Hypocrisy  of Some  Mind Map Users

I have been pushing visual thinking, visual communication, and visual collaboration through mind mapping on this blog for several years.

I would summarize my experience using mind mapping to move to a more visual and nonlinear and successive approximation thinking style as the #CODER Model.

Here it is. Click on the image to expand it.

CODER Algorithm for Mind Mapping

Trout is a program I tried to “get” for two years. Billed sometimes as a mind mapping program, its own developer says it is not really a mind mapping program. Produces odd diagrams that look like spider maps (at best).

The most recent revision for iPad and Mac just came out with greatly improved usability. I finally “got” it (or have deluded myself into believing I have finally understood the intent and uses of the program).

Trout is a brilliant tool for building maps of content links between a number of snippets of information. Get it, spend an hour with it, and you will know how to manually or AUTOMATICALLY sort a large number of text snippets into a very usable visual form.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Each of the map links in this example came from automated link building using simple default rules. Colors and shapes are arbitrary in this example. Click on images to expand.

trout1

This second version shows all possible automatic links using the default definition. Not especially useful in this form.

trout2

The third version shows all of the links involving the large central (title) circle.

trout3

The fourth version shows all of the links associated with the top yellow square.

trout4

Fast data summary if you import text snippets from a CSV file and use the automatic link building method (which can also differentiate between types of content and color and shape code automatically using your rules). I find it very useful. But you will have to spend an hour experimenting with this program to “understand” it and see how useful it is.

Unrelated except for my play on the title …

screenshot7

 

Trout Fishing in America

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

 

 

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.

Click on the image twice to fully expand it.

Student Research Papers2013

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.

click image to zoom

image

a HubaMap™ by g j huba phd

A few posts ago, I mentioned a new web, PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad app called Workflowy that lets you develop a semi-free-form outline of anything. I have been creating an outline of my life and today I added about 1000 lines (where I had lived, where I had worked, the family tree and their health issues, my favorite movies by type, where my parents had taken me on summer vacations, where I had taken my family on vacations, where I visited on business, and a few other things). Since this is a free-structure outline database, I can easily reorganize items later (drag-and-drop).

I am getting all of these “facts” down both for myself to understand how the many things I did in 62 years fit together into a coherent whole view of my life. I also want to leave a “Manual of the Life of George Huba” behind for my children and grandchildren about what health problems their father and his side of the family had so that they can screen for such issues later in their lives, the family tree of folks we never talked about, events in my life they know about such as family vacations, and events they know very little about like starting a business or prior life events. A whole life in outline form (with notes).

What sold me on using Workflowy (I have tried alternative programs in the past; this one works much better) for the data collection/assembly is the fact that portions of the outline are easily captured, output as OPML files, and then can be imported into iMindMap, creating very useful mind maps almost magically. A couple of minutes of adding a few creative touches (I am too obsessive-compulsive to resist the temptation to customize) and there are useful visual displays of portions of my life.

Do yourself a favor, and capture such information as your life unfolds. Look at how the different themes go together and know yourself better. Look at the data visually in a mind map and other visualizations. And leave hard copy and data files behind for your family. This will be a huge gift.

Workflowy Data and iMindMap

a HubaMap™ by g j huba phd

I have wasted much of my professional life (writing time) since 1985 messing around with fonts and formatting indents and outlines and bullets and placement and TABLES and bibliographies while trying to actually create original content. It was always a lot easier to fool around with the next great font or the indent levels on bullets than it was to focus on the content. WordPerfect (I am that old) and Microsoft Word and more recently Apple Pages were not the great steps forward in productivity they claimed to be. [Before 1985 who ever cared what font text was in or how the bullets lined up? In fact, who ever knew what a bullet was before 1985?] I have come to think in recent years that “office automations” may be one of the lowest circles of hell for content creators.

Like many, I have gotten interested in writing environments and other tools that just let you write and don’t tempt you with a font change or better spacing while you are trying to actually finish writing a creative page. If I could only have all of that time spent changing fonts and styles I wasted over 27 years back, I probably could have written two more books.

So far as I can see, I am not the only one who is seeking to get rid of the distractions from Word and Pages and their ilk; there is a booming market on the Mac for writing environments, enhanced text editors, and simple word processors. I downloaded a copy of Ulysses III today after thinking about it for months and agonizing over the choice between Ulysses and Scrivener. [I did something I rarely do and actually made quite a bit of use of the demo versions of each program.] Within the next few days I expect that I will be brave enough to remove Pages and maybe even Word from my Mac. [Yes, of course I am keeping the backups, I am not that brave!] My initial experience is quite encouraging; as many have found writing in Markup (the enhanced text language of most of the current crop of writing environments) the change is for the better.

At the same time that I have concluded that formatting is not an integral part of the creative process of writing original text, I concluded that formatting IS an integral part of the creative process in mind mapping where it can help develop innovative models and methods of visual expression. I have determined this by using both the most elaborate and creative mind map program (iMindMap) that gives you great creative control over visual thinking and other programs that prepare visuals that look like my pencil drawings on file cards. Color and organic looks and clip art and spatial reorganization are integral parts of the visual creative process and become part of the creation.

A Duh Moment: Stop wasting a lot of time on formatting text materials while you are creating them. Invest your “formatting time” into creating compelling visual models using mind maps or alternatives.

It is all so obvious after you try it.

When I start to work with technical research information, I find that size of the maps quickly grows.

There are limits to the brain’s processing of complex information and the computer’s ability to display image details at a size you can see.

Here are a few different models for presenting the same mind map. Which model do you think is best?

Click images [once or twice] to expand.

Model 1: “I hope you have a big display and sharp eyes”

d style 1

Model 2: “Big Bang — Universe of Information”

d style 2

d style 2a d style 2b

Model 3: “Stand in Line for One at a Time”

d style 3

d style 3a

d style 3bd style 3c

D STYLE 3D

[ADD REMAINING SINGLE BRANCH VARIANTS … AND THEN TOTAL SHOWN BELOW]

d style 1

My conclusion is that Models 2 and 3 are best for large maps, but that the selection between of these models needs to be made considering the overall size of the full map, the audience, and the topic. Model 3 is the more traditional, but Model 2 may be the best for either web or live presentation applications.

I prefer Model 1 for small maps presented online.

I recently discovered an extremely flexible and easy to use a free-form outliner : Webflowy. On the web the program runs on Mac and PC; there are also iPad and iPhone apps, and everything synchs pretty effortlessly.

I have hundreds of list like events that occur daily:

  • to-dos and dones
  • places I go
  • directions
  • what I spend $ and $$$ on
  • restaurants
  • reactions
  • etc
  • etc
  • etc

Workflowy is really simple to use and you will want it open on your notebook computer continuously.

A section of my life outline (everything combined) is shown below. Note that the outline expands and contracts easily, allows hashtags, has a good search algorithm, and easily produces OPML (and other) output. This section of the outline captures what I was thinking today as I experimented with Workflowy.

Voila_Capture47

Want a picture? Select, save as OPML and open (import) in iMindMap. You can play around a little with the format or just use one of the built-in options. You can “alter” the outline-map and re-export easily to the Workflowy document.

Now my life will be better “saved” and visualized easily.

No more excuses. [Well, I coulda/shoulda added images to the mind map, but I was just trying to make a basic point about Workflowy. You will have a very useful mind map by just letting the mind map program run at its default settings when importing Workflowy data. You got it so I don’t feel guilty about not adding some graphic elements.]

As usual, click images to zoom.

Workflowy

Still feeling a little guilty — July 6, 2013 — here is a mind map that is better with added graphics from iMindMap.

Workflowy2

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.