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.
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.”
But, do you know the background research?
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.]
Sometimes the following trick helps me both code notes (or task lists) and grabs my attention when the ignored task list is floating around on my desk or becomes part of the wad of notes, receipts, and other small pieces of paper that accumulate in my pockets. I review the wad of paper regularly (hopefully finding it before I put the pants or shirt in the laundry and being transformed to lint in the dryer). This little trick is used by people who make sketchnotes for a living (see the wonderful books by Mike Rohde on sketchnoting). Sketchnoters — because of their business and professional audience — tend to use a more subtle and artistic version of what I do (after all their audience is wearing suits while my audience is me wearing shorts and an old T-shirt). Same principle though.
[Star Trek may have incorporated the following idea into some of its episodes.]
The thick-thin pens are called Fude de Mannen by their manufacturer Sailor and fairly inexpensive. A much more elegant and expensive option that does the same thing is any Sailor fountain pen with a Zoom nib. You can also do the same shift between thick and thin inexpensively with a Noodler’s flex pen or many calligraphy pens (the Japanese ones are best and brush pens work even better) or much more elegantly and expensively with either a Pilot Falcon pen or any Pilot pen equipped with an FA nib. I have no commercial relationship to any of these companies. The odds of finding any of these pens in a brick-and-mortar store in the USA are fairly low but they are available widely on the Internet with many coming directly from Japan (yup, they ship anywhere).
I use different writing implements to vary things, color code, and even slow myself down (like the decorative fonts do) in order to increase the time for memory encoding, to build in uniqueness that grabs attention, and to amuse myself (I am easy to amuse).
Many of these “tricks” are the same as those as used in mind mapping without the most important feature of structuring, restructuring, and formally associating many ideas.
The next logical step after these kind of notes is mind mapping which I strongly endorse. On the other hand, some people just want to takes notes and may not want to take the time to carefully think through them or organize their thoughts, and for those folks at least remember this.
&&& the purpoSe of noteS is to REmemBER in parT because the noteS are MEMOR(Y)able and you pay more attention to them ***
While I cannot prove this, it is my guess that these techniques will also be useful for those with memory and attention problems like normal aging, cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and ADHD. But all of these conjectures require empirical research to substantiate and are just WAGs (Wild Ass Guesses) on my part at this time.
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 …]
Governments and other public entities are increasing their use of web sites as the primary publication outlet for medical, human services, and research information.
The transition to electronic publication saves money as well as other resources and at the same time is much more environmentally-friendly. At least a few forests in the world owe their lives to the decision of some of the largest paper users in the world to move to electronic publishing.
Electronic publishing offers a special advantage not generally available in traditional publishing on paper. On the Internet it costs no more to include colors, simple and complex images, and images that expand to show greater detail. And it is much less expensive for publications to present, in addition to their traditional text, graphics maximized facilitate creative thinking, memory retention, “big picture thinking,” and explanations that may be easier for individuals using other languages and from other cultures to understand.
Not everyone in the world does their primary thinking using words. Many — including me — find visual information more valuable, easier to assimilate, and more supportive of creative insights.
How often do you see a #MindMap, #ConceptMap, #FlowDiagram, or other visual representation on a government web site? While there are plenty of pie diagrams and line charts, such representations of data are quite limited and do NOT incorporate informed interpretation of information. Also, while there are plenty of pictures on government web sites, these images do NOT incorporate informed interpretation of information and they may give a quite biased view of data.
I do not recall ever seeing a #MindMap, #ConceptMap, or #FlowDiagram on the (otherwise extremely useful and high quality) web sites of the US Social Security Agency, the abstracts in the PubMed medical and scientific information databases, and the US government’s explanations of research and social programs, diseases and social conditions, and social service eligibility forms.
World-wide thinking is increasingly visual. Official information should be presented using both the traditional text-based methods currently employed AND newer, very effective methods of visual thinking. The brain is not limited to a single form of thinking and in fact research shows clearly that some of us (including me) handle visual data far more effectively and perform some of our best work using visual thinking techniques. Research also suggests that as the brain changes through disease processes such as Alzheimer’s disease and other more rare neurodegenerative conditions, as verbal centers suffer damage, visual centers may assume increasing importance.
While I strongly prefer #MindMaps as the method of presenting visual information, I could accept #ConceptMaps, #FlowDiagrams, and other visual thinking representations as at least a first start.
Of the mind mapping methods, I strongly believe that the Buzan-style organic mind maps including color-coding, size-coding, radiant information structures, and methods designed to optimize memory retention, memory retrieval, creativity, and cross-cultural communication are the most effective. A recent addition to mind mapping has been Huba’s method of mind modeling that adds all of the components shown in the figure below.
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.
This post does not contain medical advice. None of the methods described are known to be therapeutic. What is described are possible note-taking or information-sharing models for patient-client-self management.
For the past few months, I have been focusing on the use of mind maps to assist people with dementia, cognitive impairment, or cognitive decline deal with various issues that arise as they work hard to maintain independence.
You can access those posts simply by using the search box at the bottom of each post with keywords like “dementia” or “cognitive.” Several dozen blog posts will pop up with most very recent.
But the reality is that as dementia or other cognitive problems progress, many patients will require increasing amounts of supervision and care. Mind maps may prove to be useful in assisting a caregiver to help in a more effective, and cost–effective, manner.
Just as those with cognitive decline may be able to remember, plan, express themselves, and document their lives in maps, caregivers may be able to use these techniques themselves to provide better care and client management. Mind maps may potentially help the caregiver recall the preferences of the client, as well as the client’s life history, important events, significant people, and life style
Caregivers may find that visual information recorded in mind maps provides a good way for the caregiver and the client to start discussions.
Caregivers may find that clients can express themselves better with pictures, drawings, doodles than in words.
Caregivers may find that their own notes from each day are more useful if captured in the format of mind maps.
Caregivers may find that mind maps may be used for brainstorming by themselves, with healthcare providers, with family members, and with the client ways to organize daily events, select food and clothing, remember medications, and organize social events.
Caregivers may find it useful to record their own feelings in mind maps as a way of dealing with the emotional and physical stress of caregiving.
The daily calendar — including doctor visits and other appointments and visitors — may be easier to prepare as a mind map and much more useful to the client.
There are dozens of other ways mind maps might be useful in caregiving. I am going to write many posts on this topic in the next months. For now, here are a few examples with many more to come.
Click on each of the images to expand it.
Preparing a Mind Map (with the help of the client or family members) of the Client’s Preferences.
Preparing a Mind Map (with the help of the client or family members) of the Client’s Religious Beliefs.
Preparing a Mind Map (with the help of the client or family members) of Things the Client Especially Enjoys.
Preparing Mind Maps from the Warning Brochure that Comes with Each Prescription Refill.
Preparing a Mind Map of Each Day for Your Use and That of the Client.
Technical notes. The sample mind maps here were all prepared in the computer program iMindMap, which I strongly prefer both for the way it facilitates mapping and the way it typically produces maps that can be very useful. There are alternate programs that can be used, although perhaps not with the same level of good results possible with iMindMap. Because the maps will be used by caregivers and clients, they will tend to be most effective if colorful, “bold,” graphically interesting, and with large typefaces all of which are easily done in iMindMap. Acceptable alternatives to iMindMap would be iThoughts, Inspiration on the iPad (but not on the PC or Mac), MindNode, and XMIND, although each of the alternatives will be more difficult to use to produce maps for clients with cognitive decline than is iMindMap. There are free mind map programs available or free demo versions. This is a case, however, where paid versions are far more cost-effective than the free versions or most free programs. There is a second type of mind mapping program more suitable for business purposes (the major one is MindJet MindManager and also MindDomo and MindMeister) than those caregiving applications discussed here.
THAT (clip from information sheet attached to prescription refill)
OR THIS (pictures could be added, fonts could be changed, colors could be changed, style could be changed)? [I am NOT advocating any specific design without pilot testing although I tend to like some of the designs near the top and near the bottom better, especially since I believe they will communicate more effectively to all ages but note that this has not been proven. And, note that a professional designer could undoubtedly do a better job on the artistic elements and a neurocognitive specialist would be quite valuable as a reviewer to maximize impact.]
Click on any image to expand through several levels of zooming.
The information in this post derives from very credible web sites. [As a note, much of the information about Alzheimer’s disease and “normal” or typical aging appears to be accurately derived from the public domain information put online by various departments of the US government.]
I believe that the following mind map is better for explaining the information.
[I acknowledge the fact that various mind map “artists” can make this map more visually appealing and I see this as a first draft.]
The Alzheimer’s Association has posted this professionally valid information on its web site designed in a way as to be compelling through its high density of high quality warnings.
The “problem” with this brochure is that it is “too dense” for me (and probably anyone else without a professional background in medicine) to be able to understand and remember the information. How about including this graphic as a third page (ideally as the ENTIRE page 2) in the brochure. I would bet that the outcomes from the extra understandability and memory retention for this critical information would prove to far offset any additional printing costs.
[I acknowledge the fact that various mind map “artists” can make this map more visually appealing and I see this as a first draft.]
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.
Today I am posting about paying some attention to the methods you use to communicate and remember and make decisions and express approval and make other appropriate reactions to others. What will YOU do If your mind fails due to a degenerative condition, a disease, the luck of the genetic draw, or because you are so dumb you refused to wear a helmet while riding your bicycle or motorcycle, or even due to playing football and huge traumatic blows to the brain while wearing a clearly inadequate helmet over the course of decades.
You are told (but probably tune it out like I do) that you should plan for disasters ranging from total disability or an earthquake or a hurricane or the election of a Tea Party President to such things as the day your dog needs hospitalization.
Did anyone ever tell you that you should considering learning some alternate ways of thinking and organizing your memories and planning than the ones you have used for most of your life.
What’s more important to you, having a few bottles of water in your basement in case there is a hurricane or earthquake in the neighborhood or learning new ways of thinking or remembering or making decisions that you might want to use now or after your memory starts to fail.
Consider yourself being told to look into this before somebody hits you with a car while you are weaving through urban traffic on your bicycle without a helmet or you learn that you lost the genetic lottery and have early stage X or Y or Z or xx or yy or etc.
I am not suggesting that you abandon the way you have thought for the bulk of your life if that style ia effective for you. I am suggesting that in case you have brain trauma from an accident or sports involvement or disease or start cognitive decline due to a brain anomaly, you know some alternate ways to think and store–retrieve information and make decisions using simple techniques.
I have a very well developed set of skills that has allowed me to have a great career. If one of those parts of my brain that produces good results for me is damaged, I want to make sure that I can switch out the bad memory drive (symbolically) in my head for another one. Or I can replace the logic program that got corrupted by damage to certain parts of the brain with a different method of doing the same thing utilizing other parts of the brain.
So here’s the deal. Take a look at the mind map below and see if it helps you recognize that you should start to take stock of all that wonderful data and hardware for processing it that lies in your brain and figure out how you are going to change the logic board and memory drives if you are unlucky and you need to try to make repairs.
As is said (albeit in a quite different context) “use it or lose it.”
You age and people tell you to start doing crossword puzzles (I’ve never liked them) or to do simple arithmetic on an iPad (hhmmm… I prefer advanced mathematics) or to get your pictures together in a box (I prefer slide shows from a high-end photo processing app).
Use it or lose it.
Why start doing baby mental exercises as you get older? Why not use a better way of organizing information, planning, making decisions, and actively thinking about things around you, your life, or advancing a new intellectual hobby (mine are visual thinking research and great mandolin and ukulele players of the world)?
Use it or lose it.
Many people look at mind maps and think they are pretty pictures or formatted outlines. In fact many so-called “mind mappers” pass off work that is not mind mapping as mind mapping.
One of the most frequently ignored or missed parts of Tony Buzan’s seminal writings on mind mapping is that mind mapping requires active thinking. It is not a passive process of formatting an outline of the same-old, same-old, same-old information.
Mind mapping is really a combination of using the pretty tools in mind mapping programs to facilitate active thinking about something and to develop actively a summary model of how all the thoughts go together.
Do you think active learning through mind mapping is a better way of thinking that for many older adults is new and novel and might be a way to “use it and not lose it?”
The links page on websites is dead. Why have boring links that nobody understands on a links page when you can provide links with pictures and context (comments) that are automatically integrated with great formatting and pictures?
These external sites work well and contain my curation work. Both have free versions that probably are within your scope of individual information. All you need to do to integrate these with your blog/website is create the custom graphic for your page and set up a link.
Of the two currently predominant web sites for content curation, I prefer Scoop.it (at least this week) although Pinterest does permit more categorization and also has a great working tools.
Click on the images below to open a new window for each of the external sites.
I periodically make recommendations of apps on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone that I find exceptionally useful.
For the 2013 “back-to-school-edition” I picked a rather eclectic group of apps that I use all day as a knowledge worker. Are these the only programs I use a lot. No. But these are the third-party apps I use all day, usually immediately start every time I restart my MacBook Pro, and find very helpful in the generation of new content.
These will actually be a fairly controversial set of program choice. I suggest using a fancy text editor rather than a word processing program for all but the final draft (when it should be polished in Word or Pages). A mind mapping program is continuously open on the MacBook and used to develop ideas, remember thoughts, make lists and schedules. An electronic white board or pin board is indispensable to what I do on the computer all day.
The entire suite of programs I suggest in this #mindmap cost less than $200 in their PRO versions as I write this. In all cases, get the PRO versions and skip the freebie, lite versions.
This set of software selections will probably surprise you.
Click on the image to increase its size.
THIS IS THE ORIGINAL MIND MAP.
The second version has identical content to the first one but uses formatting to make the map more “memorable” (or attention grabbing). In visual thinking, small changes in graphics may make large differences in understanding and remembering.
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.
Calca is a must have app if you ever have an occasion to combine numbers and text together. The app combines a terrific, very flexible, very comprehensive, and very easy-to-learn-and-use calculator with a very good markdown editor.
Here is my review clipped as a screen shot from Calca for the Mac. Note that versions are also available for the iPad and iPhone. The screen shot is followed by a review in the form of a mind map.
Click on images to expand.
a HubaMap™ by g j huba phd
Addition of July 25, 2013. I have had the opportunity to use Calca today on the iPad. The iPad version works identically to the program on the Mac, and is very fast on an iPad 4. Again, highly recommended. Note that the iPad version contains a special keyboard that greatly simplifies the use of the program on iDevices.
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.
One of the dumbest things that I have seen in the mind mapping literature — primarily written by “professional” mind mappers typically from a business background and with huge hourly billing rates — is that writing in mind map for others is not possible for most people because it is too personal.
If you have real content to present and use reasonable syntax and semantics, you can develop mind maps that others can learn to read, critique, remember, and use. Better. Stronger. Faster. And as Buskes points out, the sooner we develop common semantics-syntax for mind maps, the sooner we will all be able to read each other’s maps at least as easily as paragraphs. Buskes favors empirical studies to determine the best semantics-syntax as do I.
Judge these assertions from my blog and that of Hans Buskes. If you have real content (not bullshit theories developed from the half-baked understanding of someone else’s work) and employ semantic-syntax constructions designed to communicate to the majority of folks you can find that mind maps offer greater understanding than paragraphs of dense text.
But you gotta use real data and logical thoughts and actually want to communicate with someone else. This is not rocket science, just using skills you should have learned in elementary school by grade four. (Or if you are in the failing American education system by grade six.)
Don’t listen to the nay-saying gurus who have a vested interest in convincing you that you cannot write in mind map (as they can) so that you will pay their large consulting fees.
I believe Hans Buskes and Tony Buzan when they write-demonstrate that good mind maps can be written so that they can be universally understood. And that the skills of successful mind mapping can be developed by most adults and virtually all children. And that the resulting maps can be informative, well-researched, creative, and extremely interesting (see the online work of Dr Buskes). I also believe that communicating through mind mapping can make technical and life skill information more accessible to many more people including those with declining cognitive skills and learning disabilities and mental illness and allow them to better expressive themselves. And that visual data displays and writing tools are now fully supported by computer technology.
The best mind map is an accurate one that the most people can understand.
Not rocket science at all.
A few recent examples are given below. There are 100s of such maps in my blog posts.
A significant number of individuals are drawing mind maps with computer programs. Others still draw them by hand.
I think we need to start calling computerized mind mapping by the term computer-assisted mind mapping as in computer-ASSISTED-mind mapping or CAMM. Unless you let the computer randomly draw the mind map from a bank of words and pictures, the program is ASSISTING you.
People are responsible for designing effective mind maps from important, valid, reliable, valid information. A good program assists in formatting the ideas. The best of the programs give you many options about how to draw the map and then produced nice artistic results that you can use as the first approximation for drawing the map.
I find it quite interesting that in spite of Tony Buzan’s strong promotion of rules for effective mind mapping, his own company’s program (ThinkBuzan, iMindMap) allows you to draw maps that clearly violate his “rules” (really best practices). I believe that ThinkBuzan decision is an excellent one: mind mapping continues to evolve with technology and development techniques.
The emphasis should be on “computer-ASSISTED.” No matter what type of mind map you wish to draw, and with any content, you are the BOSS responsible for design, valid information, and concept. Your trustworthy assistant fills in colored lines, draws curves, can rearrange the branches for optimal white space, and can even check your spelling.
ARTIST + ASSISTANT
DEVELOPER + ASSISTANT
SCIENTIST + ASSISTANT
BOZO + ASSISTANT
The key concept here is computer-ASSISTED mind mapping.
[Context: After hundreds of articles in peer-reviewed publications over four decades, I think this is one of the more important ideas I have ever written about.]
I have been learning (and hopefully making creative developments to) the language “Mind Map.”
No, not how to draw mind maps. Rather, how to express myself through developing (which is more than drawing) a mind map in a computer program.
Expressing. Communicating content, knowledge, creative ideas. Summarizing huge amounts of knowledge in pictorial form. Even trying to be humorous with images and juxtapositions of words and pictures.
Why? Not everyone writes equally well irrespective of quality of education. Much knowledge is nonlinear in a world of linear languages. Even my writing style has been shifting to the kind of snappy short words found on Buzan-style mind maps and in length-limited languages like Twitter and Klingon. The language “Mind Map” might be especially useful for those who are not strong writers, those who want to be stronger writers by combining a spoken language and the language “Mind Map,” those who age normally, those who age atypically, those who suffer from a head injury or brain disease, those who have various language problems, those who think visually, those who get distracted and cannot focus attention while writing in spoken languages. [Research is needed to support or reject these speculations.]
The language “Mind Map” is, for many, potentially “so easy a caveman can do it.” Whoops ….. they did.
Now shifting back to writing in “Mind Map.” Please click to expand.
I believe the syntax for writing “Mind Map” by Tony Buzan and the translation program iMindMap by ThinkBuzan are the most effective to date.
Probably the best “native writer” in “Mind Map” is Hans Buskes (@hansbuskes). Philippe Packu is also excellent. I think I am pretty good at it too and the theorist in the stadium.
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.
A key part of the television science fiction series Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek are the machine “races” Cylons (“toasters” or robots in BSG who develop “human” bodies to house the electronics) and Borg (androids who assimilate new species and technology into their race in Star Trek series starting with New Generation).
People who want to be part machines (like the guy at the next table in the restaurant who can’t put the iPhone down from his ear long enough to acknowledge that his kids exist) are pretty common these days. Does the iPhone want to be partly human? By iPhone 9 it undoubtedly will be.
I write this as I get ready to hook up a blood pressure cuff and fitbit to my iPhone 5.
Veal in machine oil sauce. A cuisine whose time is coming.
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.