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

Posts tagged Sketch Notes

The mind model (aka mind map) below discusses my vision in developing the dementia focus on this website. I started to build the web site about two years after being diagnosed with a neurodegenerative condition (2012). Thus the entire blog is the work of a developer experiencing dementia while designing and preparing the content for the site. The site discusses my progression through cognitive impairment and decline into dementia. More importantly it discusses how I tried to help myself coordinate and use to full advantage the support and professional expertise made available to me by family, friends, the community, my doctors, and the general world-wide of patients and professionals the major issues.

Nothing in this blog post (or any other on blog post or page on the site) is intended to be, or promoted as medical, psychological, or any other form of treatment. The ideas in this blog are about using some commonsense note-taking and visual thinking methods to possible help you live better with dementia. I tried it on myself (only) and I am encouraged although I freely admit that full scientific study is needed.

These methods and comments will not substitute for medical and other professional treatments. They do not cure dementia. They do not slow down the progress of dementia. For me, at least, the methods have sustained and increased my quality of life and I do spend more time with my family and am more independent and in my opinion think better. But my dementia is not being treated and getting better; what I propose are methods that may make it easier to independently manage selected parts of your life, be in a better mood because you are trying to help yourself, be less of a burden to your caregivers, and report better to doctor what your experiences have been since the last appointment.

Many people are miserable almost all days when they have dementia. If simple, inexpensive cognitive tools can improve some or many of those days, the development of such techniques is a huge step forward.

I hope that others will examine the information here and use it to improve the decisions they, their caregivers, and their doctors and nurses must make about their formal medical treatment.

Here is what appears in the blog posts and elsewhere on

Click on the image to expand it.


Click here to see Part 2 of My Vision in a separate window.


I expect to be adding a lot of posts about (or using) sketchnotes in the next few months to Here is how to find the existing ones and the ones I will add. The information as a sketchnote. Click on the images to expand them.





Click on image to expand. Estimated time to develop for a NOVICE (me) = 15 minutes. The sketchnote was drawn by a person with dementia (me).

[Note. I usually write/draw note panels like this from right to left in sections because I am left-handed and it minimizes the amount of smeared ink. There is no magic in this, so use any organization that works for you.]



January 11 2016 is the first World Sketchnote Day. FIRST one. EVER. Submit a sketchnote on social media and you can be a PIONEER. Get yourself one of those #1 fingers at your local football stadium.

Since reading the two books by Mike Rohde @rohdesign I have been convinced that sketchnotes are a fantastic way to make informational notes (reminders, lists, summaries, addresses) if you have or want to prepare for cognitive impairment and later dementia.

Image the power of a sketchnote about a friend or a favorite vacation or Wisconsin or the joys of ice cream or your favorite Super Bowl when your memory is declining. Something novel and compelling and engaging may help trigger many memories and even build new ones.

I love my photo albums, but a sketchnote goes beyond a photo and allows for a summary including stylized graphics, emotions, memory triggers, relationships, and feelings of success and love.

I have long believed that mind maps and sketchnotes are extremely powerful tools for sparking and prolonging memories for those facing neurocognitive disorders or just normal aging. The topic is discussed in many blog posts here – use the search engine on

I am especially enamored with the idea of combining sketchnotes and Buzan-style mind maps.

A sticky note with a sketchnote stuck on a refrigerator or computer monitor or mirror could help a person with dementia or cognitive impairment have a better day. Think about that. I personally need a funny sketchnote reminding me to shave on the mirror.

I am a rank amateur at sketchnoting (I spend most of my time working on the theory of mind mapping) but I still use lots of sketchnotes every day. A sticky note page has become synonymous for me with a mini-sketchnote.

Here is my sketchnote for the first World Sketchnote Day #SNDay2016. My sketchnote is extremely amateurish but is extremely effective for me (a person with neurodegenerative disease and dementia).

If you are a pro sketchnoter, please help by developing methods to help those with cognitive impairment remember, plan, understand, and communicate. If you are someone dealing with cognitive decline, or a caretaker or family member, give this method a try. It takes a pencil and a pad (and maybe some refrigerator magnets). If you are a healthcare provider, consider giving your patients reminder sticky notes which use sketchnoting principles.

My sketchnote of the day complete with the official #hashtag. I am a pioneer. Whoo-hooo. Thanks #MikeRohde. You’re #1.


Living independently or semi-independently with cognitive impairment and early stage dementia is an admirable goal. Remember, however, that there are many cautions and possible problems that you, your caretaker, your family, and your doctors need to be aware of and monitor.

Plan to discuss these (and other) issues with your doctors and others on a regular basis. It is an important part of trying to stay as independent as possible.

Read the warnings. This is CRITICAL information.

Click image to expand.

3Life with  Dementia  Cautions  and Warnings




Blockheads-01 Blockheads-02 Blockheads-05 Blockheads-10 Blockheads-15 Blockheads-21

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.





PART 1 discussed my view that a world wide memory is available to supplement an aging (and especially cognitively impaired) person’s biological personal memory (a.k.a. the brain).

Seems obvious, but is it?

I contend that even though Google and the huge information database contained on the Internet have been around for a while, it is only just now starting to be understood that this information can be “mined” and reorganized for individuals.

It’s not just about Facebook  either although Facebook is an important part of it. As are all of the other social networks, the stuff for sale on the Internet, the old stuff on your computer, and the old stuff on the computers of your extended family.

It’s all about visualization, visual information processing, and rearranging that visual information for the individual. Like your Uncle Fred who is “losing it” or your Mom who has lost it or yourself. Or leaving behind visualizations for your kids and grandkids or your spouse (who even after decades will not know how you view all of the things that shaped you and are important).

In the spirit of visualization, lets go to a mind map for explaining visual thinking.

Please click to expand.


Or same map, slightly different format …


I’m getting old. Show me some pictures of Yankee Stadium two blocks from where I lived as an infant in 1951. Or remind me about those kids I knew in High School. Whatever ever happened to my office mate from grad school? Where could I get a copy of my college yearbook? The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles were great (I went everyday for two weeks), how about some pictures? What does the home I grew up in look like now (apparently almost exactly like it did after my parents’ deaths, although the guy who bought it from us obviously does not know how to take care of shrub beds). Neighborhood looks almost identical, just the trees are bigger.

Don’t have photos or descriptions of some place or event you went to. The Internet does. Want to make sure the tales you have told for 30 years about freezing your ass off in Minnesota in ’76-77 were grounded in reality. Yup, the stat charts clearly indicate that was the case.

Look up something you seem to have forgotten. Browse information about events and places and you may find that you (with or without the help of the hyperlinks in Wikipedia) can remember even more things.

Are you a caregiver or healthcare provider for an individual with cognitive decline? It’s pretty easy to use the Internet as a big box of memories and pictures and even context to help the patient retrieve memories or relive parts of the past.

Given how I typically feel about the billionaire Darth Vader Juniors over at Google who trample individual privacy in the unending search for more liquid currencies, it’s going to be tough to say, but …

Just Google it.

Find out about your life or your parents’ or retrieve memories or recreate associations.

[Just remember that the world’s memory will also record what you just asked about so as to try to sell you yearbooks, genealogy services, or New York Yankee collectibles.]

Having a fairly accurate, very comprehensive collective world memory will potentially help many who are losing their own biological cognitive functions. It could very well help in caregiving and helping patients maintain or even increase their quality of life. Darth Vader Junior might even make it back from the Dark Side by providing funds and other resources to use the accumulated information of the Internet to help those with aging memory banks and CPUs.

Click on the image to expand it and see how these ideas go together. Form some new associations. The mind map in which the information is presented will help you do that.

Click here for Part 2 of this discussion.

Replace your aging memory with the world's knowledge

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.



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

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.]

Here are links to some earlier posts about events, people, reactions, and other information you might wish to document as you age so that you (or a caregiver or younger family member) will have the information later. Each of these posts illustrates combining text and images. These examples are ones that can be done by you before you have any cognitive problems as a self history as well as with a caregiver after problems occur. Any whether you ever need to use to help you if there is a cognitive decline, these are great ways of passing down information from generation. I wish I knew much of this information about my parents and other family members. Click on links to see examples.

Beliefs and Values


Traditional Timeline

Symbolic Timeline



Data Visualizations

Career in Perspective

Social Media


Some Things to Document as You Age

I’ve asked myself which of my skills were the most important in a senior role providing consulting and executive leadership of a small (<30 employees) consulting firm. We specialized in evaluating healthcare and socialcare programs for high need, disenfranchised groups who are often excluded from health services. I do think, however, that these are general skills which fit about every content area for a senior consultant expected to make significant creative contributions to the client organization.

It is important to know that the skills and technique specified are designed to optimize the value of the work and not to maximize profit to the consultant. There are other processes one might use to maximize profit.

After my mind map, I included some notes I made about the topic as I was thinking it through.

The five mind map diagrams start at the most abstract level and then each unveils part of the map showing the full detail of that section. The final map is fully unveiled.

I’ve gotten the reaction “you must be lying to me, it can’t be that simple” when I have provided conclusions and advice to others. All the while my business partner was sitting in the meeting alternating between having a panic attack because I was giving away the company secrets and falling off the chair laughing because the recipient of the information did not know to enough to realize that it was very hard to not over-think, cut through the distractions, and get to the bottom line when nobody (including you) knows the answer to the questions asked.

It’s simple. Just build the confidence that you can always fill a blank page with a great answer and implementation plan, build a safety net to avoid a major mistake, and use successive approximation in a resource-limited environment. It took me a long time to figure all of this out. It’s hard but do-able.

Live long and prosper (going where no-one has dared to go before).

Please click on the image to zoom.


senior creative  consulting  2 skills and  1 technique



Appendix: Notes (from iPad)

two skills

blank paper

safety net

feedback circle

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.

Please click on the diagram to zoom in.

Don't Believe a Psychology (Self Help) Mind Map Unless it Tells You

This is a review of Simple Diagrams 2 for the Mac. Incredible program, fairly priced. Mac only which is a problem since this program would be absolutely indispensable on an iPad or iPhone. I use this program a lot.

The following review was “written” in SimpleDiagrams2.

Click on the diagrams to expand.

advantages ok sketchnotes




sketch mind map

Introduction to Sketchnotes

Introduction to Sketchnotes

advantages ok sketchnotes

I love to read end of year lists each December. I love to make them too.

I worked on a PC exclusively for 25 years. Two years ago in retirement I tossed the PCs and bought a Macbook Pro. The consequence of having this cool new machine with an operating system that actually worked was that I had to rethink how to use current creative software to replace all of the (Microsoft) bloat on a PC.

This is my list of my favorite apps. Note that I use my Macbook for “professional” activities like writing and surfing the web and blogging and social media and my digital photographs. I do not do games nor software that looks like it was designed for five-year-olds.

You can zoom by clicking on the image.

I use the paid or pro versions because the extra features are useful to me. You might be able to get by just fine with a free or minimal features version.

Huba Mac Recommendations  2012

Some developers of mind mapping programs or “expert” consultants will tell you that if you do not follow arcane rules, typically never tested empirically, the world will collapse because your map is incorrect in that it is not a map. Actually almost all developers and consultants will tell you this. From where they sit, selling expensive software or being hired to run expensive software is what pays for the next BMW.

Ugly maps work just fine most of the time. You know what this map is about.

visual maps

It doesn’t even really matter that I said “visual maps forces organization” instead of “visual maps force organization.” Not for this purpose.

It’s all about content and understanding that content and using that content to make real decisions. Artistic can be for formal publications or an unreasonable boss