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 …
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.
This afternoon I went to the local Panera and paid by credit card. My bank declined my charge of $4.82. I figured it was the magnetic strip on the card which had failed or that the new trainee using the cash register may have made a mistake. She ran the card three more times and it was rejected. Then I got four text messages from the bank saying that they are rejected my charges. To text me, they used my phone number.
I called. They had put a hold on my card because they had some questions about my charges from the prior few days. The red flag event was that I had made an earlier charge of $9.65 at Panera about eight hours before. Their computer program was not smart enough to figure out that it was not unreasonable for someone to have breakfast at 6:30am at a Panera in Durham and then walk into a Panera in Chapel Hill later in the day with 30 minutes to kill and had a coffee (and a Danish I probably should not have had) while I played with my iPad on their free wireless connection. The computer also questioned the $1 charge at a gas station this afternoon (which the human representative immediately recognized as the established practice of gas stations opening charge lines with their automated payment systems of $1 when you swipe your card and then next day putting a $92 charge on the card for filling the tank). I was also asked if the payment made on the account was one I had made (I asked the customer service rep if she thought that if someone had paid a bill for me that I would tell her it was an erroneous transaction and she laughed for a long time) as well as a $71 charge to a software company outside the US.
They had freaked out because they could not reach me by phone at three numbers that were old ones not active (I know they have my current number because they sent me texts at it and same bank sometimes calls about my other accounts at the cell phone I never turn off and which has a voice mailbox). Of course, if they did not have a no reply text address, I could have responded to the four texts they sent.
Predictive models have been around for a decade or more in banks as they attempt to identify fraud and protect themselves. The episodes I have with my bank about every 2-3 months illustrate what happens when somebody blindly runs predictive analytic programs through big datasets without using some commonsense to guide the modeling process. Just because anyone can buy a $100,000 program from IBM or others for developing predictive analytics does not mean that the model that comes out of the Big Data and expensive program makes any sense at all.
Or that the NSA or FBI or CIA or Google or Amazon models make much sense as they probe your private information.
If a computer predictive system is going to think that somebody is committing credit card fraud because they purchase two cups of coffee at the same national restaurant chain in a day, we are in big trouble.
The bottom line is that Big Data models are going to have to be regulated before some idiot accidentally turns on Sky Net.
Or maybe the problem is that the NSA or FBI or CIA or Google has done it already.
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.
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).
Lawley and Maxwell’s book on factor analysis legitimized the psychometric development of factor analysis as a “real” statistical model. Although most now praise them for their breakthrough in deriving maximum likelihood estimators for the model parameters, I think the following sequence of photos shows Lawley and Maxwell’s great insight and most important contribution, received at the time as general heresy by the high priests of factor analysis.
I read this book around 1975. The paragraph I underlined and typed on the cover is one that significantly altered my career: I learned then, and further in the early 1980s, that statistical theories of psychological processes, at their very best, are only weak approximations to reality. At the time lots of psychometricians were giving their professional lives to determine if one blindly empirical factor rotation method was better than another since after all they were different by 3 percent and everyone had just “discovered” Joreskog and Sorbom’s work on structural equation modeling. I never spent more than 50 percent of my research time between 1977 and 1984 on psychometrics and statistics — the rest of the time went into modeling adolescent drug abuse behaviors and their precursors. In 1984 it was time to move on to 90 percent of my work being devoted to real psychological and social issues.
As for statistical-psychology theories, the fact that
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.
Big data this, big data that. Wow. At the end we will have better ways to sell underwear, automobiles, and “next day” pills (although in the latter case politics and religion might actually trump Amazon and Google). Blind empiricism. Every time you click a key on the Internet it goes into some big database.
“Little data” — lovingly crafted to test theories and collected and analyzed with great care by highly trained professionals — has built our theories of personality, social interactions, the cosmos, and the behavioral economics of buying or saving.
Big data drives marketing. Little data drives the future through generalizable theory.
I started writing about the importance of the content in the mind map — facts and important information well researched — back in November 2012. For the next few weeks I am intending to repost some of these posts with my updated thoughts about Mind Mapping 3.0 and what I would now call Mind Mapping 4.0. I will introduce Mind Mapping 4.0 after reviewing some of my views about Mind Mapping 3.0.]
It’s fine to put your own notes or feelings or ideas into a mind map that will be for your use or one which will be clearly labelled as you opinion. But, if you want to put ideas into general circulation as “facts,” you need to have done your homework and tie the information in the maps to established research, clinical findings, and expert opinion (and document whose expert opinion it is, whether that of someone else or yourself). Mind Mapping 3.0 was the introduction of high-quality data into this useful method of thinking.
I would categorize the pioneering efforts of Tony Buzan and others to introduce and popularize the method of mind mapping as Mind Mapping 1.0 and the parameterizations and resulting computer programs by ThinkBuzan, Topicscape, Mindjet, and others as Mind Mapping 2.0.
[As I saw it in 2012 and continue to view it in 2015] Mind Mapping 3.0 is the integration of computer-assisted mind mapping methods, artistic sensibility to enhance visualization, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, substantive, creative, well-documented valid and reliable content of great importance.
The fictional detectives would have been great program evaluators. All looked at all types of data. Miss Marple was a model of pleasantry who could work her way into an organization or group and see it as it was without changing anything by observing. Holmes and Watson — whether in the original books and movies, the Ironman version of the movies, their current BBC incarnation in 21st Century London, or their CBS incarnation in 21st Century Manhattan with Dr John Watson now Dr Joan Watson (for the better) — use Holmes’ razor sharp mind and Watson’s intuitiveness and questioning. Sam Spade, wise cracks, an iron fist, and underlying sensitivity.
Program evaluation is not about conducting research, randomly assigning participants to conditions, or using quasi-experimental designs. Program evaluation is about understanding why programs produce certain outcomes, intended or not, positive or not, unique or not. To truly understand a program quantitative and qualitative data needs to be collected with great attention to the sensibilities, needs, risks, and potential confidentiality breaches of data of program participants, program staff, program administration, funders, and other stakeholders.
I love program evaluation. Every program is unique and at the same time representative of certain classes of human service organizations.
Be a detective. Look carefully and understand the beauty of a well-running program and how to help staff improve a program that is not working as well as it could.
This analysis, that analysis, yesterday’s analysis, tomorrow’s analysis, Uncle Izzy’s analysis … is there anything that is a not a form of analysis? Create your own bullshit anagram and bullshit detector. And then see how well it applies various politicians, political claims, the cable news stations, and others. You’re on your way to become a walking, human bullshit analyzer.
So without much further ado, a new form of analysis. And a make your own anagram template.
This is the first of a series of posts I am making about program-organizational (and individual) evaluation. Much of what I will discuss is not in the mainstream of traditional program evaluation methodology.
My approach is different. It works.
In this first section the point is — obviously — that evaluation is iterative and nonlinear. This led to my first model that EVALUATION IS DETECTIVE WORK several decades ago. [Perhaps that explains my current obsession with all versions of Sherlock Holmes, whether in the original, present London, present New York, or by Iron Man.] At any rate, it seems ELEMENTARY to me that instead of thinking of program evaluation as a linear research experiment with a fixed design (a metaphor that works at best imperfectly), it is more important to treat evaluation as detective work where good rules of evidence must be followed and the evaluator is at fault if all outcomes are not found.
My initial development of the Detective Model in 1992 came from my observation that in much traditional program evaluation the evaluator applies a flawed “research” experimental model and the insensitivity of this approach means that a program looks worse than it is because the evaluation methodology is in error. Who pays for this problem? The program, of course, since the evaluator walks away saying that the “program sucks” and not that the evaluator screwed up. In the Detective Model, applied iteratively and nonlinearly, the evaluator and the program are partners, and it is clear what the responsibilities and level of success each has.
Biggerplate.com (@Biggerplate) has started to post video recordings of the presentations at their recent mind mapping conference in London on their web site.
The first four presentations are now available online at this link.
All four presentations are excellent and are by experts willing to talk to their peers frankly and clearly thus resulting in a very large exchange of bottom-line information.
The 20 minute presentation by Chris Griffiths (@GriffithsThinks) is probably the best talk on modern mind mapping I have ever seen; watch this if you want a jump start into modern mind mapping. I agree with about 90% of what Mr Griffiths says, and he is extremely articulate about the big issues.
This appears to have been a great conference. Four more similar conferences are being scheduled around the world, with two coming up in the USA (San Francisco, Chicago).
Liam Hughes and his staff at Biggerplate facilitated an excellent conference and more importantly, started a valuable ongoing communication process.
Highly recommended. If you believe that visual thinking (and mind mapping) can be useful in your field, try to watch some of these short videos. Like them, I do.
I confess. In 1979 Pete Bentler and I published an article entitled “Simple Minitheories of Love” in the highest prestige journal on personality and social psychology.
Blame it on the exploits of the greatest psychometrician of his generation and a 28 year-old wanna-be psychometrician, both active personality researchers, trying to convince the field that the new statistical modeling methods (Structural Equation Models; LISREL) they were testing would revolutionize the field (I was wrong on that one, too).
Now ask yourself why neither of these guys — nor any of the other main figures in the fields of psychometrics, sociometrics, personality, social psychology, attraction research — ever went on to start a web site to match individuals on the basis of personality and life style questionnaires (I won’t dignify them by calling them tests); such sites became quite lucrative. This was in spite of the fact that at least one (Huba) had the opportunity to do so during the years when he was the Vice President of R&D for a major psychological testing company and later when most of the other competing testing companies hired him as consultant. Or why did the major personality test developer of his generation and the owner of a psychological testing company (the late Doug Jackson) never consider developing such a product?
See a pattern here? Even the folks who made the most $$$ from psychological instruments and had the most influence in the psychological assessment journals and industry did not develop a Love Site.
I concede that a Love Site may be a good place to find people you might not never meet otherwise through your social and work friends and these might be good mates or sex partners. Or they might be psychopaths, perpetuators of sexual or domestic violence, dependent individuals, or alcoholics.
So far as I can tell from the undisclosed algorithms of the dating sites and their unpublished outcomes, I have no way of knowing for sure if the sites have a good chance of producing a good outcome and avoiding a terrible (and life-threatening) one. I suspect that if there were strong scientific evidence that the sites “work” in both cases, there would be a lot of scientific research published that supports this notion. Where is the incontrovertible evidence? Can I can read it or hear it at professional conventions? Claims on TV that a lot of people got married mean little or nothing without information about comparison groups or negative outcomes.
I would have no problem concluding that the Love Sites are effective if there were psychometric and other scientific evidence that the algorithms used are valid. Without such evidence, I worry that they are more voodoo and “smoke and mirrors” than places where you can find a mate and your date will not result in a rape. Of course I cannot prove my position is right, but neither can the Love Sites. My stance is safer for individuals.
There is that old fashioned system of “meet and greet and respect the people you meet” that did produce so many humans that we now have a problem with world-wide population growth. Sometimes older methods work better if you are patient.
If you have read this blog in the past few weeks, you know that I strongly support the notion of peer review of mind maps. However, I acknowledge it is not fair to to keep harping on this issue without providing some type of suggestions for implementing a system.
I selected BiggerPlate as my example because it is the largest and highest quality archive of mind maps I know of. I greatly support their work.
I believe that implementing such a system would increase the usefulness of mind map communication and advance this area of inquiry.
I have been writing (and mind mapping) a lot recently about the need to make sure that mind maps purported to contain “expert” information are valid, reliable, important, and data-driven. I have noted that I also think these mind maps are better communication devices if they are “organic” (in the sense of Tony Buzan) and “artistic” and creative. And I am fairly sure that valid and memorable organic mind maps can be much better for encoding information into memory.
The best example I have found of a profesional who consistently produces valid, reliable, important, data-driven, organic, artistic mind maps is Hans Buskes who posts his work frequently on his blog mastermindmaps and tweets as @hansbuskes. Dr Buskes’ maps have well-researched information that meets current standards of excellence, are easy to understand, and data-driven. Look at his two English-language e-books on mind mapping. The book available on iTunes is offered for free.
I view the work of Dr Buskes as the standard I hope to achieve.
The examples are partial screen clips of two of Hans Buskes’ maps. See the mastermindmaps blog site for the full maps and explanatory materials.
Content is Queen. The ultimate point of any mind map is to use and present information clearly in a way that communicates conclusions that are valid, reliable, and important.
Some examples. Are all of those mind maps floating around showing psychological variables and purporting to illustrate major findings and theories actually using valid information? (Guessing what all people feel like or how they learn and thinking it must be valid since, after all, you are a human, is probably not an indication that you are using highly valid data.) What is the expertise of the individuals who generated the information portrayed in the mind map? Was the information based on empirical studies, well-established theory, the musings of a pop psychology writer, what your Mom taught you, what your best friend thinks, what you saw in a movie? Did you (as a student or casual reader) just read a popular psychology book and accept what that person wrote on how you can be more rich, famous, happy, socially connected, sexy,and thin?
Much attention in mind mapping goes into the “artistic presentation” aspects of the maps, the colors, the rules, the images. And yes, prettier, neater, more original, and more creative maps are probably better received than those that use none of the great tools of visual thinking. But the reality is that the clothing does not make the person nor does the artistry of the map make the content more valid or reliable or important.
The first mind map below shows some of my thoughts and suggestions about how mind maps should be reviewed by experts in the content areas being addressed if the map will be used for purposes other than personal learning or process documentation or as art. That is, if the point of the map is to present facts, then the purported facts really need to be checked by someone who is an expert in the content area. In most cases, I have no problem with authors being responsible for their own work so long as they clearly state their own expertise levels and where the data for the mind maps originated. I have a big problem with someone who is not a trained mental health professional telling the world how to diagnose depression or ADHD. If the author of the map is not an acknowledged expert presenting her or his own work, then the source and limits of the information in the mind map need to be stated, and in some cases, independently evaluated.
The second mind map is actually just the first one produced in iMindMap exported into the alternative computer program MindNode Pro. Is the first map prettier than the second? Sure seems so to me. Is the first map more valid? No. It contains identical information. Does the first map communicate better than the second? Sure seems so to me.
Keep in mind that the goal of most mind mapping is to present valid, reliable, and important information in way that is easily understood, easily remembered, and easily communicated. Using this criterion the first map is probably significantly better.
The third mind map is identical in content to the two maps just considered but was generated using default options in the program XMIND. The style of the mind map is similar to that of another program (Mindjet AKA MindManager), and is that many argue is the best for presenting information to those in business.
Hopefully by the time you read this, you will have looked carefully at the actual content of the mind map in one or more of the variations. Content is Queen; it is all about the ideas. In the process of mapping, we need to incorporate references to the source of the information displayed. Pretty is good and memorable, but is not more important than the information presented. Content is Queen, although she does look better in a nice dress or business suit.
There are lots of different applications of mind mapping methods to such areas as brainstorming, task management, scheduling, journaling, and sharing basic information (great day to play basketball!). Other mind maps may tell us about scientific experiments and theories, political arguments, historical events, anatomical features of the human body, the quality of hotels in Barcelona, or expert rankings of world football (soccer) teams projected to finish near the top in the World Cup tournament. How do you know a real expert has ranked your favorite football teams correctly? How do you know that the student who created the cute mind map of the human body as a subway map actually put in the correct names parts and names? What are the professional qualifications of the “expert” who says the world is flat? Do experts believe the purported expert who drew the mind map? Is the information in the mind map you found and downloaded from the Internet really going to tell you what you need to know for your organic chemistry test in two hours?
I sure hope my doctors studied from factually correct mind maps, not just pretty ones given away by a pharmaceutical company. And (since I have a doctorate in psychology), I am really sick of seeing mind maps that say they contain psychological principles that will make you happier, thinner, less anxious, more sexy, and help you self-diagnose whether you have bipolar disorder and which drug would be best to help you and should be ordered from an Asian or Mexican pharmacy over the Internet (URL at the bottom of the map).
Mission critical information in mind maps should be carefully reviewed by experts in the content of the maps to minimize the number of cases where misinformation hurta people . If such a review has not been done, or if the author of the mind map does not provide adequate credentials to assess professional competence, I recommend you do not use such information for making personal or business decisions. While I love artistic maps that are well-designed and “clean” in their appearance and spend a lot of time trying to emulate the best, adherence (or not) to the mind mapping rules of Tony Buzan and the use of a wonderfully artistic program, in no way does or does not make the information in the maps correct. Think about that carefully the next time you download a mind map from the Internet and try to study or make a business decision; that’s a fact, Jack.
It’s also a fact that these comments also apply to infographics, concept maps, and other information visualizations.
My next post is going to have a lot to say about the importance of content and how to assess whether that pretty map you just found contains valid, reliable, and important information.