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social, health, political imagery through the lens of George J Huba PhD © 2012-2019

Posts tagged Griffiths

NOTE: Version 11 OF iMindMap was released the first week of May 2018. At this time (7-1-18) I have been using the program for about two months. I will have a full review posted within a week or two. As a brief note, Version 11 includes a number of enhancements. The program remains the best one for mind mapping and the updates made from Version 10 to 11 are significant and worth the upgrade price.

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 rather than the larger desktop monitor.]

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.

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 …