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

Posts tagged iMindMap

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.]


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 (, a depository of many thousands of mind maps at, and many other sites including 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 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.

One way that healthcare communication can be made more effective is to supplement or replace traditional pages of small-type textual information with graphic displays such as mind models (AKA mind maps), sketches, graphs, and infographics.

This post focuses on mind models (mind maps). The same general arguments would apply to sketches, graphics, infographics, and other visual information methods designed to promote a more effective patient-oriented healthcare system with more complete, accurate, and easy-to-understand information for all.

If you are not familiar with mind models (mind maps), you should look at the mind map at the bottom of the page first (Footnote).

To expand the graphics, click on the images.





Have dementia? So do I. You and I and others can use Twitter responsibly to provide information and observations and comments to millions of others, any one of whom might use that information to make a difference in treatment systems, the development of pharmaceuticals, priorities for the use of tax dollars, or the care of a family member.

Pssstttt… these techniques are for anyone advocating for just about any social issue. Pick a good topic you know something about and become a One Person Advocacy Organization.

Click on image to expand.

Ways Twitter Can Help Persons with Dementia Help Others and Themselves



Apathy is often identified as a key symptom used for diagnostic and other purposes with dementia. Apathy seems to be most often discussed for those types of dementia-causing conditions often associated with young onset.

I believe it is possible to differentiate four types of states that are identified as “apathy.” This differentiation is quite important both for the administration of drugs and behavioral exercises to fight apathy and for planning social interactions and outings for the person with dementia if you are a #caregiver or a #family member.

Type 1 is what I would call “observer identified apathy.” Caregivers, friends, doctors, and others see an individual who does not smile or seem to react to a positive environment and assume that the person is not experiencing emotion and would like to repeat the experiences often or see the same people again. These observations may have a quite different meanings for different individuals and in fact not represent apathy. For instance, I have little control of my non-verbal expressions (face muscle control and feedback is going, going, gone) and even though I feel happy and engaged you will rarely see a smile and when I try to “force one” for the iPhones, I usually end up making a rather bizarre expression. At social gatherings I often stand by myself just watching. I am neither apathetic nor a “stalker,” rather I often disengage in large groups because I can not selectively attend to individuals or the noise is too much for me to understand what is being said. I am trying to control incoming stimuli not to ignore them. On the fringes or in a quieter space with a small group of individuals I can appear quite engaged.

Try not to over-generalize when looking at a person with dementia and assuming that they are experiencing apathy. Something quite the opposite may be happening. And I may not be ignoring you because I feel apathy or do not like you. You may simply be standing in a noisy, chaotic part of the room.

Type 2 is what I would call “true” or “experienced apathy.” The person with dementia experiences the classic symptoms.

Type 3 apathy is mislabelled depression. Many of the symptoms of depression are also indicators of apathy but the underlying causes of the behaviors may be quite different for apathy and depression. It is important to determine if the person with dementia is actually experiencing depression rather than apathy (or both) as there are medicines available that seem to be able to help control symptoms of depression.

Type 4 apathy is what I would call “deliberate apathy.” When you see me ignoring situations you find enjoyable or engaging or demanding an emotional responsible, it may be assumed that I am experiencing apathy. I might tell you that you are right, I am, but it is because I chose to for this situation. At some point as dementia progresses one may need to make decisions about which activities and people and situations are the most important and should receive as much of the rapidly dwindling supply of mental energy as possible and which should be ignored so that energy can be conserved. These are deliberate decisions that people with dementia may need to make and then adopt as part of their lifestyle. My social circle is smaller because I have had to make choices about where to direct my energy and my “ignoring” someone is not a statement of disliking or lack of concern but rather that I think my family needs my time and energy more than they do. Things I used to think were fun are ones that I may ignore or avoid now not because I fail to think that they are fun but because I have decided that other things are more fun or enjoyable for other reasons and I should invest my limited time and energy into those.

Note that several or all of these types of apathy experience may be going on in a person with dementia at the same time. It is much more complicated than it looks.

LIFE ISDGS_Monsters-13

Since the beginning of this blog in 2012, I have consistently — with each new version — concluded (from dozens of comparisons with other programs) that iMindMap is the single best program for developing mind maps. Period.

With version 8.0, iMindMap is no longer the world’s best mind mapping program. Rather, it is the world’s best mind mapping program PLUS additional features that make it the world’s best visual thinking environment (or VITHEN using my coined term). Period.

What makes iMindMap 8.0 so valuable as an overall mind mapping and visual thinking tool is that it encourages you to use iterative, hierarchical, nonlinear, big-picture, creative ways of generating ideas, communicating those ideas, and integrating the ideas with the data of images and statistics. There is no tool I know of that is better for these overall tasks and the building of creative models.

I use iMindMap between 3 and 10 hours per day on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone 6 Plus.

Version 8 exceeds Version 7 in that the program has been significantly speeded up both for computer processing and in general usability of all of its advanced formatting features. The increased speed with which advanced formatting can be done encourages more precise and creative visual thinking.

Did I mention it has a very good (becoming excellent) 3 dimensional display mode and provides a much better presentation tool than the PowerPoint standard? The new Brainstorming Mode (file cards on a corkboard metaphor) allows those who like to see words rather than images to brainstorm in the mode most natural to them. I’ll never use the mode but I project many will embrace it.

The iMindMap program has been the best tool I have had to allow me deal with a neurocognitive neurodegenerative disorder and continue to be productive over the past five years. The program permits me to think at a very high level which I cannot do nearly as well with other techniques or other mind mapping programs.

All seven maps shown here are identical except for their format.

[I intentionally did not use any clipart because I did not want distract from the basic creative thinking and model development-presentation functions of iMindMap that are the real core of the program. With any of the variations of this map, if you spend 10 minutes adding selected included clipart or icons, the map will be even more visual.]

The remainder of my review is — appropriately — presented as a mind map.

Click images to expand.

Three styles provided with the iMindMap program.

1iMindMap 8.02iMindMap 8.03iMindMap 8.0

4 Custom Styles I Use in My Own Work and 4 Variations on the Same 3D Mind Map

gh1Imindmap 8.0gh2Imindmap 8.0gh3Imindmap 8.0gh4Imindmap 8.0

Imindmap 8.0 3D4Imindmap 8.0 3D3Imindmap 8.0 3d2Imindmap 8.0 3D


bolero cover 3 parts FINAL


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.


The majority of the posts on this blog are about using visual thinking methods — of which I think that by far the best is #Buzan-style organic mind mapping — to understand, explain, evaluate, and communicate about healthcare. A lot of my own thinking has focused on using visual thinking techniques to potentially improve the quality of life of those with cognitive impairment and dementia.

Tony Buzan and Chris Griffiths and their colleagues and staff at ThinkBuzan have done a very comprehensive job at getting many of Buzan’s ideas embedded into a general purpose computer program (iMindMap) which provides a general visual thinking environment, of which mind mapping is a special part. There are many computer assisted mind mapping programs, but I have concluded that iMindMap is by far the best for creative visual thinking and communication, in no small part because it fully incorporates Buzan’s theory and theoretical implementation.

Like scientists and management consultants and educators and healthcare providers and patients and patient caregivers and students and many others, illustrators struggle with how to best use visual representations to support better thinking and communications.

Which brings up this beautifully conceived and executed little book that I have found to be mind expanding and liberating in how to develop and use a series of illustration techniques and “tricks” to look at things differently when trying to make creative breakthroughs.

Whitney Sherman is the author of the book “Playing with Sketches” which provides 50 exercises which collectively will change the way you think about creating images to understand and communicate ideas.While Ms. Sherman wrote the book for designers and artists, the techniques will be just as useful for visual thinkers in science, education, medicine, industry, and other fields. The beauty of Ms Sherman’s exercises is that in showing you fairly simple ways to make hugely informative and well designed images, the tools will themselves suggest many applications to visual thinkers of all types.

And, I have found that Ms. Sherman’s techniques can be used by the severely artistically challenged (of which I am one); the techniques are ones for Visual THINKERS, not necessarily artists and designers.

I have mentioned this book before in much less detail, but in the months I have used the methods, I have found that they WORK very well to facilitate creative visual thinking. For me they have promoted a breakthrough in how I see the visual thinking canvas.

Get the book, try some of the techniques (pick a random one here and there to start), discover that great artistic talent or aptitude is not required, and see how the techniques fit the information you study in search for better healthcare or disease prevention or decision making or facilitating creative group processes.

In partnership with Tony Buzan’s techniques for organic #mindmapping and Mike Rohde’s framework for #sketchnoting, the techniques codified by Whitney Sherman provide very powerful visual thinking tools.

Ms. Sherman’s website is She tweets at @Whitney_Sherman. The book is available from major online book sellers.




I will be posting some examples of using the sketching techniques of Ms. Sherman to developing assistance and communication techniques for those with cognitive impairment or early-mid stages of dementia.





This is an old story often repeated as it was typed every few hours by telegraph operators in the 1800s to test the lines. And, everyone learned to type it. The story (sentence) of course was used because it contains every letter of the English language.

[My repeated attempts to come up with a short, single sentence that is hip, cool, trendy, and oh so 21st Century, and contains all 26 letters of the English alphabet has been a failure as of this date. I am working on it.]

At any rate, everyone knows that “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

a story By  Mind map SHORT 2015

But, do you know the background research?

a story By  Mind map LONG 2015

The same “research notes” presented in summary or full form can present a sentence or a short story.

[OK, so it wasn’t really a Newfie. However my lazy, sleeping, snoring dog has been practicing for the part for years, so I let her have it. And yes — really, truly — I have had both foxes and coyotes in the front yard of my current house. I guess I could also have said that the fox was rabid (most are) but that would have changed the rating to PG-13.]

Geek Boy - Two Thumbs Up

Click on image to expand.

Drum roll please …

Mac Mind Map  App Ratings  June 2014  g j huba phd  ✮✮✮✮✮



  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The programs continuously change (most copy each new version of iMindMap after its release) and my ratings change fairly often.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

Mac Mind Map  App Ratings  June 2014  g j huba phd  ✮✮✮✮✮ 3d


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.



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.)

For researching, conceptualizing, evaluating, designing, and communicating I prefer to use a VIsual THinking ENvironment or #VITHEN.

There are three tools I use most on my Mac TOGETHER as a visual thinking environment. My preferred programs are iMindMap, Scapple, and Big Hairy Goal. I would rank them 1, 2.5, and 2.5 respectively.

Note that I do not use these three programs alone and on many project use iMindMap plus (Scapple or Big Hairy Goal). Combined these three programs provide an excellent VITHEN. If you only want to work with one program, use iMindMap, the premier and most comprehensive product in this space.

And, yes I coined the term VITHEN.

Click on image to expand.   VITHEN   #iMindMap, #Scapple, #BigHairyGoal, #VITHEN

Collectively, these programs will enable you to do many types of visual thinking.

Click image to expand.

MAC visual thinking environment


Addition: September 19, 2014

  1. With some enhancements in the past six months, I believe that BigHairyGoal has surpassed scapple as a design-research canvas. A++ for BHG.

  2. I would add iMindQ to the mind mapping program list.

  3. The combination of iMindMap Ultimate and BigHairyGoal is an excellent one for a Mac Visual Thinking Environment. BigHairyGoal is a generally unrecognized program. It is exceptional as a canvas on which to assemble all of the information necessary for a research project. Anyone conducting research assembling text, images, links, and information such as that to be read in a specific word processing or display program should be using this program on a Mac. While iMindMap Ultimate incorporates many of the features of BigHairyGoal, they are far better realized in BHG and the two programs should be used in tandem, perhaps with results from iMindMap displayed on a BigHairGoal canvas with source information ringing the mind map.



The golden rule of using mind maps in healthcare settings is to provide information to a patient, the patient’s family, or another service provider. It’s all about customizing any “standardized” templates used to fit the patient’s needs, beliefs, behaviors, priorities, and background. Click mind map to expand.

FINAL Mind Mapping for a Patient  from the  Patient's Perspective  It's All About Me,  Stoopid


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.


Every year around this time, I go out and buy a new external hard drive, copy all of my computer files onto it, set the file to “read only,” and then archive it. The drive contains my memos, years of email, 14 drafts of manuscripts from 15 years ago, data from projects long completed, jokes I receive by email, contact information for hundreds of business acquaintances I will never hear from again in my retirement. It also contains copies of all my photos (many duplicates and out-takes) in a very disorganized state.

I invest in religiously saving this information even though a high percentage is junk that should be eliminated from the digital attic. I think there is some value in preserving this stuff, if only to reduce my anxiety that something got lost.

My personal insights, feelings, events big and small, interactions with people, history, memories of Mom and Dad, and all of the stuff that makes life worthwhile and important. HHhhmmm. Doesn’t need to be organized because I will remember all of that really important stuff.

IDIOT. If there is anything that should be backed up it is ME, not a bunch of outdated and stoopid memos.

Some ideas about archiving ME. Think about archiving YOU. I suspect this will be a very valuable exercise for both of us even if the “Big D” (dementia) is never an issue. Why not fight back against the possible Big D?

Click on image to expand.



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.


or in 3D rendering …


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

Click image to expand.

2MV  P

The first version was published a few posts ago and created in iMindMap 6. The original post has a discussion of the highly credible web sites from which the information in the map was developed.

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

This second version was created by reformatting the first using some new tools available in iMindMap 7 and capitalizing on the improvements in speed and ease-of-use of tools that had been available in iMindMap 6, but in a more primitive way. In particular, it is now much easier to work with text meaning that pulling text into positions on the canvas ringing the map may be a good way to store data related to the conclusions embedded within the mind map.

I7 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease.imx

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.]

These days I carry around a MacBook with a 15 inch retina screen and internal 768GB optical drive. Oh to think that I used to be sure I was in computing heaven a decade ago when I carried around a company state-of-the-art laptop (I always carried the top of the food chain machines as I owned the consulting firm and as the senior consultant was on the road a lot). The circa 2003 Lenovo probably had a 1600 by 1200 screen and probably about a 16GB internal drive.

So these days when I take the retina screen machine home with its enormous 768GB optical drive home, I immediately plug it into a Cinema Display and four external hard drives (2 3TB and a 4TB thunderbolt drives as well as a 2TB firewire 800 drive). 12 terabytes of external storage (the emails of a career and 100,000s of digital pics and many thousands of documents, gigabytes of statistical data and outputs, hundreds of older programs I no longer use, and of course a 100+ movies and 8000+ audio files). I often refer to the the external drives as my digital “brain” (although they do have the individual names of Groucho, Son of Groucho, Harpo, and Chico just like major brain structures have individual names). As I fire up the external drives, my “life” gets reattached to my digital “brain” and I can see many more things at once in multiple windows on the 27 inch screen than you can see on a 15 inch internal screen, even one with a retina (rating).

I note that after I plug in those mega-drives the room gets hotter and I sweat a little. And the noise level goes up many decibels. And I feel a little anxiety.

This week I forgot to plug in the 4 hard drives one evening and did not discover it until 5 hours later at midnight when I wanted to watch the most recent episode of Marvel Agents of Shield (*****, 2 thumbs and a big toe up) in iTunes which stores its files on an external drive. It had been silent in the room all evening (optical drives make no sound as compared to the diesel engines in external drives) and I wasn’t sweating and did not feel any anxiety at all. And since I and not used Aperture all evening to see the old photos of my successes and abject failures, I had not really missed the hard drives for anything that important.

Silence. Just data and information from the last year and the Internet. Silence (well almost since after a while I did stream music from the web a few hours into my sojurn). No big distractions. No multiple (distracting) windows open on the 15 inch monitor. A focus on today.


I think I heard, saw, thought, and felt better that evening without having to confront my whole life in 7 windows all the time.

Digital Silence

Sending out a graphic and colorful SIMPLE visual agenda by email really helps a conference call move along and keep the big picture in sight.

Keeping the map simple allows individual participants to take their notes by making additional (sub-)branches. Try it. Works!

[People spend less time on their end of the speaker phones reading email and cleaning their desks and more time actually thinking creatively.]

An example. Click image to expand.

Goals Meeting

Very useful for forms, templates, novelty, and kidz. Example done with #imindmap on an iPad. Click on image to enlarge.

Computer Assisted Mind Mapping with Handwritten Labels

Steps to hand label the parts of the mind map (in iMindMap)

  1. make a branch without a label
  2. click on the branch to open the drawing app
  3. write/print the word and click done
  4. when back to main mind map window, click drawing, make bigger, rotate as required
  5. tweak the branch by curling it around the handwritten label

Sept 9 2013: Since this was posted, Hans Buskes has also demonstrated the technique of using handwriting in his incomparable way. And he graciously dedicated the map about iOS 7 to me! [Now if only Dr Buskes’ endorsement would let me get on the Apple web site to download iOS 7!]

I like to tell random stories under the assumption that at the end the lessons can all be tied together (after all I am telling all of the stories).

Here is a summary in visual form which is mainly how I think these days ..

Thoughts A Few Watts at a Time

reformatted June 2014 in iMindMap 7.1


Annually I used to give a presentation to graduate students in clinical psychology (the “I hate data, I hate statistics” crowd) at a famous psychology professional school about how to research and write a doctoral dissertation. The number one question everyone had was (nnoooo, not how to do good research or how to pick an important topic) how long it takes to write a doctoral dissertation. All of the dissertation advisors in the room with their students would wince and make rude sounds. I would respond “I know the exact answer and it is 1200 hours (30 hours a week for 40 weeks).” And the students would all have relieved smiles. Then I would say, “but you cannot count the hours you spend kvetching, bitching, whining, going out for coffee with your friends, or on the phone talking about your dissertation blues.” (This was in the days before Twitter and Facebook or I would have included those too.) I think this applies to all writing and other creative work; the “kvetch factor” determines how successful you are. Control kvetching and it is pretty easy.

People in most work situations often waste a lot of time going out for coffee and kvetching. In the company I owned, I purchased an $1800 “grind and freshly brew every cup of coffee machine,” unlimited bags of gourmet coffee, expensive tea bags, a small refrigerator stocked with every kind of soda available, a designer water cooler,  a microwave oven, unlimited popcorn to nuke, and fresh fruit on occasion when somebody complained that all theew was to eat was popcorn. All were available at no cost to the employees. The designer coffee machine paid for itself in a few weeks. Happier folks, more conversations among employees (good, they eventually lead to collaboration and creativity), more team building, more cross-fertilization of ideas and skills. Of course, you could still go out to Starbucks if you wanted to. Almost nobody did since we had all the Starbuck’s coffee you could drink in the office for free (the machine also made expresso, lattes, and all of the other trendy coffee drinks). Visiting clients liked the break room a lot too.

When employees, collaborators, clients, and others would call, email, or show up unannounced at my office door in a state of high agitation, anxiety, or general “lost in spaceness,” I found that reminding them that we were just social scientists and were not “building a nuclear weapon” almost immediately relieved tension and worry. Sadly, some folks are building and using weapons of mass destruction this week.

In the past 30 years, folks have always talked about innovation and creativity as coming from software and hardware. I always found that real advances  come from people-ware (which initially surprised a hi-tech guy like me). Social media is good, telephone calls are better, face-to-face meetings of stakeholders are best. And lots of time needs to be provided for a nonlinear process to occur, re-occur, and grow. Instead of teaching students and new employees how to better avoid people with technology reducing interactions and directives by email never checked to make sure it WAS actually received, we should be teaching them how to work effectively with other creative people by actually sitting down together and hammering out differences and developing new strategies for cooperation. It’s so retro 1960s that it could be the next trend.

Most people work hard to develop products that are so new and fancy that they are “bleeding edge” or so advanced they scary ordinary people. In our company, I never sought to be at the bleeding edge. Rather, any time new bleeding edge methods were developed, I would immediately try to develop the “12 months after the bleeding edge” products that people could use now and understand because of my explicit assumption that there is not an awful lot of use for methods that nobody can use! There is a lot of use for methods that somebody with a reputable track record had simplified (but NOT dumbed-down) and explained. Being at the bleeding edge often means your fingers get cut; simplification and training make the use of the tool a way to discover and communicate.

Office toys are a great thing. Over the years in my company we had a huge blow up clown you could kick when everything was not going perfectly (expressing verbally what had gone wrong and encouraging those within ear shot to suggest solutions). Games (the weekly contest on how many blue m&ms were in the packages being taken from the company chocolate stash; yes we had free chocolate some days, too) helped build communication. There was a talking and rockin’ parrot toy in my office often turned on during meetings.

We weren’t developing thermonuclear devices by email; we were counting and enjoying blue m&ms.

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