When I started this blog at the end of 2012, one of the first mind maps I presented my values in a coherent way. Of course two years have passed, values evolve, and mind map programs get better as do my skills in using them. When I look back on it, I find it pretty surprising that I was able to put several hundred personally meaningful mind maps on my blog site in only two years. I think that the way that mind maps engaged me over the past two years and (in my humble opinion) allowed me to explore creatively many issues points to the great value of the method of visual thinking.
Here is return visit to a slightly revised, prettier mind map created from that first published two years ago.
I would not write about this topic were I not convinced that a number of government agencies, hackers, and 12 year olds have already thought of this.
Today I was looking at the Mac App Store and saw a new featured program that automatically translates from one language to another. The program reportedly translates 80 languages into 80 languages. Since I do not know 80 (or even 2) languages I have no way of verifying this claim. Nor do I think that there is any problem with this app or others of the type. But the App Store stimulated me to think about something.
What if …
What if I an American security agency (NSA, CIA) wanted to slant American public opinion against the Arab World. It could (probably and extremely rapidly) change the translation dictionaries in a computer program to translate Arabic to English in a tone that subtly makes Arabic statements in public social media seem more aggressive and uncooperative than intended. Or conversely if I were an extremist organization that wished to slant opinion against the United States I might alter a translation dictionary to make English statements sound more negative or aggressive or dictatorial in Arabic. This can be done in any pair of languages in either direction.
I have looked for effective computerized translations to English (or more properly Americanish) for decades, primarily because I have no language skills (or abilities) but want to know what the writers in Arabic, Russian, Spanish, Hebrew, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other languages are saying on social media. I try to follow many tweeters in the Arab World because I think that Americans are fairly oblivious to the intellectual and medical advances made there as they also are to the peaceful political and religious views of virtually every practitioner of Islam or resident of an Arab country.
In the era of Twitter and numerous other social media services which are starting to provide automatic translations between languages, who tests to make sure that the auto translations do not intentionally or unintentionally slant public or scientific opinion. Obviously, those most dependent upon those translations are least able to judge this!
Anytime I read something that seems odd from a speaker of another language, I wonder if this is the result of an auto translation program unintentionally or intentionally trying to sway my opinion.
This is perhaps a compelling argument for visual thinking using minimal words.
[On the other hand, there is this Photoshop thing …]
Most other web sites that rank mind map apps carry advertising from at least several different producers of these programs while I do not. This may or may not explain my greater willingness to differentiate sharply between the apps.
Your idea of what a great mind map app should be may differ from mine resulting in different ratings. Mine are particularly relevant for scientific, health, education, and personal use rather than corporate outline formatting. In fact corporate outline formatting in “mind map” programs does not really produce true mind maps, but most corporate customers do not know the difference. Learn why Buzan-style mind maps will perform far better than the “formatted outline” maps produced by many of the best selling programs before committing to one model or the other.
The programs continuously change (most copy each new version of iMindMap after its release) and my ratings change fairly often.
I communicate with some of the app developers (as well as other independent reviewers) via email. I try not to let these interactions with nice people and arrogant people and people with crummy business models (and crummy customer support) and development geniuses color my ratings.
These ratings apply only to Mac software. I do not use any of these programs on a PC. After 25 years of 40-80 hours of PC use per week, I switched to a real computer and use Macs exclusively.
I will release separate ratings for iPad apps, but in general those programs that are especially good on the Mac tend to be especially good on the iPad. Note that while I do not believe that the Mac version of Inspiration is a particularly good app, I think that the iPad implementation is among the very best.
The apps I review are full commercial versions. I have yet to find a free mind map app that is even close to the best paid apps in quality and usability.
Virtually all of the paid apps have free evaluation periods. Most periods are 30 days which is plenty of time to form your own judgment. Make use of the opportunities provided by the developers and vendors.
And yes, the three programs that I intend to use 90% of the time or more are iMindMap, iMindQ, and iThoughtsX. My use is about 85% iMindMap and 2.5% each of the others. I spread the other 10% of my usage around, often experimenting with other programs just to see if they better fit specific uses or types of users.
This mind map that follows is the same as that above reformatted for “3D” presentation.
I guess it’s just me … I search Google for sites with “psychology mind maps” and I get lotsa pages returned. Of course very FEW of these pages let you know where the ideas, recommendations, and organization comes from. That makes me pretty pissed off.
I have a simple rule for evaluating psycho-pop, psycho-babble, psycho-art, and psycho-schmaltz: if the author (artist, developer) cannot prove to me that the information came from a credible source and is being communicated by a credible source, I assume it is psycho-fantasy and just walk (actually run) away.
Here’s a few things to ask about before you go ahead and change your job, spouse, running shoes, or haircut because somebody gives you some magic MBTI letters, a number on a test published in a self-magazine, or advice that must be right because it appears in a pretty mind map.
I love great psychology content conveyed in an easy to understand manner. I hope I produce some. Most do not produce anything except profits. Know what you are buying (and staking your life on) when you get information from a book, TV, the Internet, text, or a graphic.
Irv Oii is known to many international news organizations and researchers as a star data journalist. Being a home worker (although home may be the UK, Ohio, the Middle East, Central Africa, Hong Kong, or Antartica) and a fairly reclusive person, nobody seems to have met Irv. Some speculate that he might be a Jewish Asian-American. Others believe Irv is short for Irvelina, a Russian immigrant physician who went to Ohio (or was it Ojai, California) when the Soviet science programs collapsed and turned into the lower funded Russian collaborative efforts with the EU and USA. The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the closing of her laboratory in Minsk. Some even think Irv Oii is an acronym.
Irv is thus an enigma and no pictures of her/him seem to exist. An artist’s conception (mine) based on the writings and consultations of Irv Oii on healthcare breakthroughs is shown below. My belief is that a portrait of Irv should hang over the desk of every data journalist and researcher.
I started writing about the importance of the content in the mind map — facts and important information well researched — back in November 2012. For the next few weeks I am intending to repost some of these posts with my updated thoughts about Mind Mapping 3.0 and what I would now call Mind Mapping 4.0. I will introduce Mind Mapping 4.0 after reviewing some of my views about Mind Mapping 3.0.]
It’s fine to put your own notes or feelings or ideas into a mind map that will be for your use or one which will be clearly labelled as you opinion. But, if you want to put ideas into general circulation as “facts,” you need to have done your homework and tie the information in the maps to established research, clinical findings, and expert opinion (and document whose expert opinion it is, whether that of someone else or yourself). Mind Mapping 3.0 was the introduction of high-quality data into this useful method of thinking.
I would categorize the pioneering efforts of Tony Buzan and others to introduce and popularize the method of mind mapping as Mind Mapping 1.0 and the parameterizations and resulting computer programs by ThinkBuzan, Topicscape, Mindjet, and others as Mind Mapping 2.0.
[As I saw it in 2012 and continue to view it in 2015] Mind Mapping 3.0 is the integration of computer-assisted mind mapping methods, artistic sensibility to enhance visualization, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, substantive, creative, well-documented valid and reliable content of great importance.
The fictional detectives would have been great program evaluators. All looked at all types of data. Miss Marple was a model of pleasantry who could work her way into an organization or group and see it as it was without changing anything by observing. Holmes and Watson — whether in the original books and movies, the Ironman version of the movies, their current BBC incarnation in 21st Century London, or their CBS incarnation in 21st Century Manhattan with Dr John Watson now Dr Joan Watson (for the better) — use Holmes’ razor sharp mind and Watson’s intuitiveness and questioning. Sam Spade, wise cracks, an iron fist, and underlying sensitivity.
Program evaluation is not about conducting research, randomly assigning participants to conditions, or using quasi-experimental designs. Program evaluation is about understanding why programs produce certain outcomes, intended or not, positive or not, unique or not. To truly understand a program quantitative and qualitative data needs to be collected with great attention to the sensibilities, needs, risks, and potential confidentiality breaches of data of program participants, program staff, program administration, funders, and other stakeholders.
I love program evaluation. Every program is unique and at the same time representative of certain classes of human service organizations.
Be a detective. Look carefully and understand the beauty of a well-running program and how to help staff improve a program that is not working as well as it could.
This analysis, that analysis, yesterday’s analysis, tomorrow’s analysis, Uncle Izzy’s analysis … is there anything that is a not a form of analysis? Create your own bullshit anagram and bullshit detector. And then see how well it applies various politicians, political claims, the cable news stations, and others. You’re on your way to become a walking, human bullshit analyzer.
So without much further ado, a new form of analysis. And a make your own anagram template.
I was 10 years old when the Berlin Wall went up. 11 when JFK butchered the German language. 38 when the wall came down. 39 when they started selling the pieces. 62 when I finally saw some of the panels in person.
In person the panels proclaim desperation, depression, denial of freedom, hope, strength of the human spirit, persistence, creativity, and victory. Kind of puts most of my life in context. ACT UP.
The panels are part of the permanent collection at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Individual panels are 12 feet high and weigh several tons. The collection is the largest held by a public institution outside of Germany.
And, yes, the painted sides were on the western side. The backs are unpainted, blemished gray concrete.
When I was a child we used to have the drills you have seen in those odd videos where kids dove under their desks when the nuclear alarm sounded. The Berlin Wall made the fears of the time much worse. My elementary school also had a basement with a sign on the stairs that said fall-out shelter and had the big radioactive sign that led you to believe that the basement would protect you against direct radiation and fall-out. Good thing there were no nuclear attacks and the public at large never realized that a desk or basement was not going to protect you at all. [At the time, my own father was one of the first nuclear engineers in the USA and never told us or anyone else that it was a big government scam; it probably was a result of his high-level security clearance for reactor design.] And in case you wonder about profits from the fake bomb shelters, the US government subsidized the peanut farmers and put hundreds of gallons of peanut butter in large cans inside of the bomb shelters. When they did tile ceiling tile repairs in my office at UCLA in the early 1980s, the maintenance crew used the peanut butter as glue, and apparently that was a common construction practice at the time! Who knows what else the owners of the buildings with the fake bomb shelters did with this stuff as it passed its expiration date. The 40-year “Cold” War was a pretty nasty one that scared me until the day the Wall came down. The end to the Cold War was a singular achievement of the Reagan Administration, the UK, and our European allies who proved to the Soviet Union that they could not keep up with the western coalition in sustained military spending without totally pissing off their citizens by making them accept sub-standard lifestyles.
And yes, later President Jimmy Carter benefited from both ends of the Cold War radiation industry serving in the navy as a very early nuclear officer [at the time my father was designing submarine reactors and training nuclear officers] on a submarine and later selling subsidized peanuts. Perhaps this has something to do with Carter’s ascendance as a peace advocate after his presidency.
Every day, the Newseum in Washington, DC, receives electronic copies of many of the world’s newspapers. They print them and post at least one from each US state/territory and many from throughout the world.
The next day they start all over again.
It is amazing to see all of these front pages for one day adjacent to one another. The common and the local; the political and the social-entertainment.
3.16.2013. A smattering of those available inside and outside the museum.
Content is Queen. The ultimate point of any mind map is to use and present information clearly in a way that communicates conclusions that are valid, reliable, and important.
Some examples. Are all of those mind maps floating around showing psychological variables and purporting to illustrate major findings and theories actually using valid information? (Guessing what all people feel like or how they learn and thinking it must be valid since, after all, you are a human, is probably not an indication that you are using highly valid data.) What is the expertise of the individuals who generated the information portrayed in the mind map? Was the information based on empirical studies, well-established theory, the musings of a pop psychology writer, what your Mom taught you, what your best friend thinks, what you saw in a movie? Did you (as a student or casual reader) just read a popular psychology book and accept what that person wrote on how you can be more rich, famous, happy, socially connected, sexy,and thin?
Much attention in mind mapping goes into the “artistic presentation” aspects of the maps, the colors, the rules, the images. And yes, prettier, neater, more original, and more creative maps are probably better received than those that use none of the great tools of visual thinking. But the reality is that the clothing does not make the person nor does the artistry of the map make the content more valid or reliable or important.
The first mind map below shows some of my thoughts and suggestions about how mind maps should be reviewed by experts in the content areas being addressed if the map will be used for purposes other than personal learning or process documentation or as art. That is, if the point of the map is to present facts, then the purported facts really need to be checked by someone who is an expert in the content area. In most cases, I have no problem with authors being responsible for their own work so long as they clearly state their own expertise levels and where the data for the mind maps originated. I have a big problem with someone who is not a trained mental health professional telling the world how to diagnose depression or ADHD. If the author of the map is not an acknowledged expert presenting her or his own work, then the source and limits of the information in the mind map need to be stated, and in some cases, independently evaluated.
The second mind map is actually just the first one produced in iMindMap exported into the alternative computer program MindNode Pro. Is the first map prettier than the second? Sure seems so to me. Is the first map more valid? No. It contains identical information. Does the first map communicate better than the second? Sure seems so to me.
Keep in mind that the goal of most mind mapping is to present valid, reliable, and important information in way that is easily understood, easily remembered, and easily communicated. Using this criterion the first map is probably significantly better.
The third mind map is identical in content to the two maps just considered but was generated using default options in the program XMIND. The style of the mind map is similar to that of another program (Mindjet AKA MindManager), and is that many argue is the best for presenting information to those in business.
Hopefully by the time you read this, you will have looked carefully at the actual content of the mind map in one or more of the variations. Content is Queen; it is all about the ideas. In the process of mapping, we need to incorporate references to the source of the information displayed. Pretty is good and memorable, but is not more important than the information presented. Content is Queen, although she does look better in a nice dress or business suit.
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.
For two years I have argued that mind maps can be (are) good ways to summarize complicated research into easily-understood theoretical models. The mind map below has gone through a few iterations since 2010. This is my version of November 25 2012. All pictures are of the same map.
In November 2011, I first distributed a framework for getting rid of HIV/AIDS once and for all. Yes, it will be expensive. Yes, it will take international cooperation. Yes countries, agencies, and individuals have to stop behaving like spoiled children. Yes, it can be done. My ideas are shown below in a slight update made in July 2012.
One of the things that has frustrated me in the past six months is that as I look back over 60 years, I would like to be able to organize much of the information I accumulated in mind maps into something that looks like a time line. I did learn a while ago about the absolutely fantastic time line mind maps developed by Hans Buskes (@hansbuskes on Twitter; http://mastermindmaps.wordpress.com/) and Philippe Packu (@IPhilVeryGood on Twitter; http://www.drawmeanidea.com/). These guys have some incredible examples. Far beyond my artistic ability.
So I kept using regular mind maps with a first branch being a year or range of years. The example below shows my reactions to the presidencies of the individuals who served as POTUS during my lifetime. But, notice a little trick I introduced. Instead of the year branch coming directly out of the central idea, I have a “blank” or filler branch and then the time period branch comes out of that. No big deal. Just like a regular mind map with a little piece of formatting.
What I discovered is that my adding the extra (padded) branches in the mind maps like those above, it then takes just about 10 minutes (I need more practice) to go from the mind map above to the one below.
All you have to do is turn off the automatic routine for changing the positions of the branches and drag them around a little. You get the the nice straight line by pinning each of the extra padded branches along a straight line and then letting little time-cluster mind maps grow at the various temporal nodes. Takes almost no time. (Ok, so I did stop and do a little font and picture formatting but it is no big deal). All of these good things happen because the program I used (iMindMap) has a feature that permits you to pin some or all of the branches into specific places. In this case you just have to pin the one padded branch for each of the time nodes.
Want a 3D timeline? Hit the button in iMindMap and you can have one like that below. Note that you also can treat the timeline as a “regular” iMindMap in terms of changing fonts, colors, styles, and adding clip art and images. Kind of cool. I was heavily influenced by the work of Hans and Philippe: this is my attempt to simplify it.
Want a timeline presentation? Yup. There’s a button for that too.