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

Posts tagged visualization

Click on the image to expand it.

For those of you who think that the term Dementia Monster is insensitive, do remember that I have one who lives inside of me. Increase my anxiety levels and out he comes. I spend much of my energy trying to limit his ability to feed on the anxiety.




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

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


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

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

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

To expand the graphics, click on the images.





There are many problems that can plague a person with dementia. Some of these are easily detected but others may be “hidden” because of the nature of the major symptoms of the disease or “hidden” because the person with dementia (or caregiver or in some cases family members) is trying to hide some of the problems from outside observers.

For instance physical, psychological, or financial abuse will be hidden by the abuser and perhaps the person with dementia. Memory loss may make it difficult for the person with dementia to accurately report accidents.

It is important that healthcare providers, caregivers, and family members be trained to identify the hidden problems.

To some degree or another, it is likely that most persons with dementia have some of these hidden problems. For instance, I bump against things all day long, usually because I am rushing around or not paying attention because I am trying to multitask. When asked by a family member or friend where the bruise came from, I have to try to reconstruct where the accident must have happened by thinking through a lot of alternatives for a bruise half-way between my ankle and knee.

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A mind model (aka mind map) on the way that ideas hit you when you have dementia.

In a group, the need to say something immediately before you forget it often takes a backseat to etiquette rules of waiting for your turn to say something and not interrupting. If you are talking to someone with dementia, consider cutting them slack and letting them jump in when they can. If the group won’t let the person with dementia break in it can lead to both a sense of frustration for all and quite frankly, the loss of some good ideas and interactions.

The current rules of etiquette do not take account of the fact that some of the participants in an interaction will have severe cognitive impairment or mental illness that pretty means that if a thought is not expressed immediately it will be forgotten.

Sometimes rules need to be stretched or curved (like a railway track) and patience exercised. This is one of those times.

f I am trying to blurt out an idea to you, believe me that if I don’t say it immediately it is going down the track far, far away from me. And it may not come back for another five minutes (if at all).

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I have been a HUGE fan of the Olympics since I was a very little kid. In 1984 I got to go to the Olympic events in Los Angeles every day for two weeks, on many days with my father. That was the year that the Soviet Union boycotted the games because the USA had boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980. Heck, I thought it was great — the USA and East Germany (who came) won all of the gold medals! Months earlier when local pundits in Los Angeles said Los Angelenos were too apathetic to purchase expensive Olympic tickets especially with the Soviets and most of the Eastern Bloc boycotting as it would not be a real sporting event, I had bought as many tickets for the “finals” as I could get my hands on. Later I sold the extra tickets as Los Angeles fell in love with the games. I made so much money that the expensive tickets I had bought for the entire family of 7 that we used ended up were effectively free since the profits covered the cost of the tickets we used. Street enterprise at its best. My tickets became worth more because the Soviets didn’t come as all Americans became Olympic fans the year we won all the golds.

Winning the race to live well with dementia is like running the 10K race at the Olympics. Everybody has to pace themselves at the beginning so that they can learn about their opponents. In the final stages of the race they speed up and sprint their fasted the last 200 meters.

A mind model of the dementia race strategy is shown below. Click the image to expand it.

I think I am winning my race to live life to its fullest while having dementia. I’m getting ready to claim that gold medal. You can win your race too. Think about what you are doing and strategize like a 10K runner. Learn all you can in the beginning and then speed up later as your new knowledge kicks in.







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.





Sketchnotes are one of the most powerful tools for developing visual memory systems for everyone.

I have blogged about them many times. For me, the limiting feature has always been the (low) speed at which I can draw simple figures for inclusion in the sketchnotes, the (poor) quality of them.

I discovered a brilliant little book by Mauro Toselli (@xLontrax at Twitter and Instagram) which broke the barrier for me. The book is titled “100+1 Drawing Ideas for Sketchnoters and Doodlers” which was recently published (2016). The book is available at the world’s largest online bookstore in many countries. Toselli is the co-founder of the web site where is is a very active editor, sketchnoter, and promoter of sketchnotes.

The book contains quick instructions for drawing attractive “icons” or “cartoon figures” especially useful for inclusion in Sketchnotes. In 60 minutes you can break the barrier to having effective sketches in sketchnotes even if you have minimal artistic talent like me. The 100+1 examples can be generalized into 1000s of related figures; for instance his example of quickly sketching a lion can be pretty easily adapted into sketching my dog, a bear, or a cat.

Highly recommended. Inexpensive.

I consider sketchnotes to be a natural complement and alternative to mind models (aka mind maps), and this book will help you use small sketches quickly and attractively in sketchnotes. I have found nothing better although I have purchased more than a dozen introductory sketching books in the past year.

Just get this  book if you are serious about sketchnoting for any application. Sketchnotes work wonderfully for me — they are compelling, attention getting, and help organize information. As a child I made notes like this but was quickly trained out of doing so by the education system pushing me into the old staid outlines and none of these “scribbles” in the margins. I wish I had ignored all of the teachers and continued sketchnoting 57 years ago (when I was 8). Oh well, you can teach an old horse new tricks (or at least to return to the pasture), and I now know recognize sketchnoting as an extremely powerful technique for everyone to learn.

As a note, the definitive (and easily accessible, more general) books on the overall technique of Sketchnoting are by Mike Rohde. Search for “Rohde” on this site (the box at the left margin on every page of the blog) and you will find a number of posts where I have discussed Rohde’s seminal work especially as it applies to people with dementia.

Mr Toselli is very active on Twitter and Instagram as @xLontrax and at and

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BOOK as are all sketchnotes and blog posts by Mr Toselli. Toselli has written a brilliant book and tweets extremely effective sketchnotes of special interest because he works on important social issues.

The back cover of the book expresses brilliantly one of the basic “rules” of sketchnoting. I’ve added a few of my annotations.

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Mauro Toselli on Twitter …




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

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

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Ways Twitter Can Help Persons with Dementia Help Others and Themselves


Living with dementia is all about improving quality of life (QOL). Treatments to fix up your brain are still in development. They will not happen in my lifetime. But, as I always suggest in this blog, there are some ways of using simple cognitive and behavioral methods that may make your life (and that of your family) more pleasant. When you have dementia, a better day is priceless.

There are several products on the Apple app store for iPhones and iPads that claim to promote electronic communications among patients, family members, and paid caregivers. In reviewing many, I found them — as a group — to be somewhat expensive and typically fairly difficult to use (by me, a member of the patient target group with a PhD and 25+ years of software development experience).

I have carried an iPhone and iPad with me almost continually for the past 10 years. I have always considered the voice control app Siri to be something of a “bar toy” that you can ask questions like “who won the 1923 World Series?” or “what is the dollar-euro exchange rate?” My judgment had been drawn based on the earliest versions of Siri that had significant problems in voice recognition and returned “interesting if bizarre” information in response to questions.

Then recently I watched a teen sit with her iPhone and take notes, schedule, get smart answers, and generally zip through her homework. She did not seem to be doing anything “special” to enable the phone to interpret her voice. And she got terrific and accurate translation of her spoken words into written words using Siri.

Well … I decided it was time to start acting “cool” and flexible again and seem like I was having a conversation with my friend Siri. I started to talk to Siri and “her/him/it” and tell it to take written notes. I experimented with several Apple devices and found that multiple individuals (and devices) linked on the same account can easily share notes.

Free. Nothing special required. Easy. Doing a little research, I concluded that the transcription and note taking function now work far better than ever before due to enhancements in Siri, but more importantly because of recent upgrades in the Notes app included in iOS.

There is huge potential here for Persons with Dementia to take notes for themselves easily and simply by speaking into an iPhone they carry everywhere. And for caregivers and family members to leave notes for a Person with Dementia. Or to check the PWD’s notes to see what is going on. No lost notes and I bet that many people are likely to carry their phone everywhere than to carry a pencil and notepad.

If you and Mom (or Dad or your aging friends) carry iPhones, you can easily set up a system where notes can be shared in a couple of minutes.

1. Apple is reliably rumored to be releasing Siri for the Mac in June 2016.
2. At this time I only recommend sharing notes, not calendars. Calendars are confusing.
3. Siri also runs on the Apple Watch. Hopefully well enough to also share notes.
4. Donald Trump is reportedly suing to change the name Siri because he does not want Syrians in the US (OK, so I couldn’t resist).

The mind map below organizes the basic information about this system and provides additional details.


The slide presentation breaks the mind map into pieces. It will run automatically or you can push the pause button and then use the arrow keys to move through the presentation manually.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Siri, take a note. Get started making electronic notes with Siri many times per day.

You can change voices for Siri [male/female and in the US Version Americanish, UKish, or Australish] easily. I prefer the female British voice (the American female version is too common, the Australian female version is too upbeat and hard to follow, and I do not want a male butler or a bossy service representative voice). Mary Poppins is quite helpful, friendly, and at times scolds you. I need a nanny.

By the way, ask Siri to take a note and say this word. It will spell it correctly.

If you use Siri, you can also find out the answer to the “argument” (discussion) you having with your caregiver about how much money Lionel Messi makes in dollars, euros, pounds, or yen.

Sorry folks. I do not use PCs anymore after 30 years of frustration and bugs or Android devices so if you do not use Apple products you are going to need to explore this area on your own.

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.





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.

Click image to expand.


Comedy and tragedy theatrical masks

Aaahh … “hard science double-blind” research designs.

How do you apply such a design to determine if visual thinking-art therapy-visual cognitive remapping strategies help those who live with cognitive impairment? Do you put a paper bag over the head of the patient and over the head of the healthcare provider-art therapist-social worker? Or blind them.

I don’t think so. Even scientists who bow to the Science God (often noting the relationship to Thor) are not that dum or stoopid. Scientists willing to accept “softer” data and designs like clinical observations, case studies, interviews, and knowledgeable peer judgments are willing to accept the relationship found for some people showing mind mapping is an effective (and cost-effective) way of making some situations less stressful and more productive and life quality enhancing for those living with cognitive impairment.

However, try searching the scientific literature with Google or PubMed for studies of mind mapping and cognitive impairment-dementia. Not a lot of “hard science” results to be found. I see this not as a failure of the efficacy of the method of mind mapping but rather the fact that the brick walls of hard science are not broken down by the sound of trumpets or the roar of a lion. There is a missing link and probably many studies that indirectly demonstrate that mind mapping works well with cognitively impaired patients but are not labeled as such.

Last week I read what I judge to be a highly credible and careful study by two neurologists and an art therapist that was published in April 2014. I think they found the missing link and data supporting it, although they did not call the intervention technique mind mapping for those with cognitive impairment. Instead they called the intervention-life skill to be ART THERAPY for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

There is a LOT of literature showing that Art Therapy increases social interactions, understanding, motivation, enjoyment of life, associations, and perhaps memory among those living with dementia, and even for those in the latter stages of the disease.

What is Art Therapy? Applying color, form, creative ideas, social interactions (with a teacher and other participants) and positive psychological states to try to understand the world better and communicate the perceptions of the artist.

What is ORGANIC (Buzan-style) mind mapping? Applying color, forms, creative ideas, interactions, and positive psychological states PLUS radiant, hierarchical, and nonlinear organization to try to understand the world better and communicate the perceptions of the artist.

Is this conceptualization of mind mapping with and by the cognitively impaired as an enhanced formulation of ART THERAPY (conducted by a professional, family or friends, caregivers, the patient her- or himself) to help individuals use visual thinking strategies to navigate their world a break through one? I think it is the scientific missing link and we can bootstrap from the findings that Art Therapy is a good intervention for dementia to ORGANIC mind mapping may be a good intervention for dementia and perhaps will achieve a greater effect than less focused “art.”

Here is a link to the paper. Click on it to retrieve the article.


As a technical note, the authors’ use of meta-analysis to combine the results from a number of independent studies selected for their methodological soundness is an accepted one which has become popular in the past three decades.

I want to see much more research on this topic. BUT, I think that we are currently moving in the correct direction in a “leap frog” way with great speed.

Keep both eyes open and click on the image below to expand it.

When you are done, part 2 can be accessed in a new window by clicking here.

Missing Link  Reducing the Effects  of Dementia with  Mind Mapping  (Huba's Theory)


Google Glass can almost immediately be used as a technology to help those living with dementia and cognitive impairment recognize faces and associate names and other information, know their location, and make associations between environments and their own life experiences. The software needed to be used along with Google Glass is, in most cases, existing and needs to simply be modified for individuals.

Click image to expand.

Google Glass &  Cognitive Impairment  Early Dementia

Blog posts and other information about the use of Google Glass with those living with Alzheimer’s as well as other types of dementia can be accessed by clicking here. A new window will open with current suggestions from a Google search.

This YouTube video shows the national award winning science project of four sixth grade girls. The future of Alzheimer’s care is in good hands.


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

Click image to expand.

MAC visual thinking environment


Addition: September 19, 2014

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

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

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



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

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

Big Data (in service to the NSA) wants to be able to document what you do and when and where and with whom. All of the current databases that companies and public agencies maintain can now be tightly linked to get a pretty good profile of any individual.

But, these models of what people will do when you ask them to buy a DVD of Thor 2 or a suit from Brooks Brothers, are actually fairly dumb brute force computer algorithms that break down when certain types of problematic data are fed into them.

Hhhhmmm. Some thoughts below in the mind map. Click the image twice for a full expansion.


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.]

Missed patients appointments represent a major wasted cost within the healthcare system.

Huge amounts of resources are wasted when patients miss appointments. Expensive healthcare providers in expensive medical office space with expensive equipment and expensive staff are not utilized to their fullest resulting in a loss to the overall system.

To deal with missed patient appointments, clinics often schedule a few more patients than they have time slots in order to compensate for the number of patients who may not arrive or may arrive later than scheduled.

If everybody actually shows up at appointments in the compensatory, over-booked environment, several things happen; doctors and staff get stressed because they have to squeeze patients into the schedule and patients get pissed off their doctor cannot be in their examination room on time or earlier.

So the system needs to get patients into healthcare clinics on the correct day at the correct time. A number of strategies are typically used.

Do you think that the average elderly or cognitively challenged individual (and caregiver) understands and remembers those reminder messages left on their voice mail or those short telephone communications from an obviously harried staff member?

Do you think that the small type, too many words, black-and-white business letter does the trick? Do you think the letters get opened? Do you think that aging folks can all read small fonts or understand a packed letter without white space?

Do you want to increase the rate of patients showing up for appointments? Look at this general framework and the example I provide below.

Use a mind map, improve patient care and help make the service system more efficient.

Click on images to expand.

Reminder  [optional use of name]

Reminder Jill Brown

chapel hill ambulatory

A clerical staff member should review the completed form with a patient or caregiver.

Personally I would send the mind map home (or in the mail) with a few brightly colored refrigerator magnets (with my phone number on them) suggesting that the patient or caregiver put the appointment mind map on the door. I would also send a second copy to be put wherever these things usually go, or to share with the caregiver. Refrigerator magnets are very inexpensive and if printed with your name and phone number will increase the number of times patients will call to reschedule rather than just skip the appointment because they cannot find your phone number (and guess what percentage of elderly or cognitively challenged or disabled or practicing physician adults might not be able to find the business card and did not enter your office phone number into their smartphones?).

Oh, and even if the form slips off the refrigerator and is whisked off to recycling by a rushed and harried house cleaner, the refrigerator magnets will still be there so the patient can call to get the scheduling information.

Try something like this. If it works you save a lot of wasted time and loss of income and frustration. Your patients get better healthcare because they remember to see you when it is medically desirable to do so. The caregivers will like it because it makes their jobs easier.

And if it doesn’t work better than the same-old, same-old, you have only lost a few hours of clerical time spent implementing a system of mind map appointment reminders.

I have been pushing visual thinking, visual communication, and visual collaboration through mind mapping on this blog for several years.

I would summarize my experience using mind mapping to move to a more visual and nonlinear and successive approximation thinking style as the #CODER Model.

Here it is. Click on the image to expand it.

CODER Algorithm for Mind Mapping



  • I sometimes use the words your kids hear hourly (partially, but only partially, concealed under the scratch sounds) on your local Pop/HipHop radio stations.
  • I sometimes discuss topics often portrayed but not named on Prime Time broadcast television.
  • I sometimes use the slang words for fornication and excrement (as applied to government, especially in the USA) that your children probably learned at home or in first grade. They probably learned to use these words to describe government from you.
  • I often use rare words and phrases like LEARN, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY, READ, and NEWSPAPER. Your child might ask you what these words mean.
  • I make it clear that even if you don’t like it, you need to EAT VEGETABLES, GO TO COLLEGE AND GRAD SCHOOL, VOTE, RESPECT DIVERSITY, EXERCISE, and stop worrying about Kardashians, Bieber, and Miley. I frequently endorse Lady GaGa, Miles Davis, John Lennon, and the Swedish Millenium (Dragon Tatoo) Film series as well as Yo-Yo Ma and Chris Thile. And although I think Obamacare is flawed (in that it does not go far enough), I continue to strongly endorse it.
  • There may be discussion and pictures of the human breast, vagina, and penis was well as brain scans, tooth decay, politicians, the effects of smoking, the destruction of the environment, and income disparities and poverty. I avoid the use of words like boob (for politicians and the breast), prick (for politicians and the penis), and asshole (for politicians and the anus), although your children may be more familiar with the slang than the proper anatomical terms or politicians’ names and responsibilities.
  • I support all religions that respect diversity and humanity and do no try to harm or forcibly convert those who practice other faiths.
  • Research has “proven” that gender, sexual orientation, race-ethnicity, skin color, place of origin, and organized religious group are NOT correlated with human kindness, human intelligence, human ethics, human fairness, human acceptance of other viewpoints, the search for peace, and the willingness to experience new cultures, knowledge, and friendships. The only people I rant about are those in the US government because observation make it clear that many (but I hasten to add not all) US politicians do not aspire to the ideals of kindness, intelligence, ethics, fairness, diversity, and peace. I also scream about lack of healthcare, mental health services, food, safety, peace, education, and respect for all groups in all countries. And I believe that all abusers of children, elders, minorities, and women should be housed in a special corner of Hell next to those who build or use weapons of mass destruction against anyone and those leaders who have attempted “ethnic cleansing.”

Please plan accordingly.

Trout is a program I tried to “get” for two years. Billed sometimes as a mind mapping program, its own developer says it is not really a mind mapping program. Produces odd diagrams that look like spider maps (at best).

The most recent revision for iPad and Mac just came out with greatly improved usability. I finally “got” it (or have deluded myself into believing I have finally understood the intent and uses of the program).

Trout is a brilliant tool for building maps of content links between a number of snippets of information. Get it, spend an hour with it, and you will know how to manually or AUTOMATICALLY sort a large number of text snippets into a very usable visual form.


Each of the map links in this example came from automated link building using simple default rules. Colors and shapes are arbitrary in this example. Click on images to expand.


This second version shows all possible automatic links using the default definition. Not especially useful in this form.


The third version shows all of the links involving the large central (title) circle.


The fourth version shows all of the links associated with the top yellow square.


Fast data summary if you import text snippets from a CSV file and use the automatic link building method (which can also differentiate between types of content and color and shape code automatically using your rules). I find it very useful. But you will have to spend an hour experimenting with this program to “understand” it and see how useful it is.

Unrelated except for my play on the title …



Trout Fishing in America

A few months ago, I published my revised Laws of Mind Mapping in part because I do believe that the Buzan rules are great in-so-far as they go and should be followed except when they are in conflict with the content of the map or the communication expectations of the audience. Philippe Packu initially suggested in his blog a few months ago how to use ThingLink (a free Internet service) to add pop-up annotations to mind maps (on top of a jpg or png). Hans Buskes applied these methods in his usual creative way to additional content areas in several blog posts. Here is my first application. Hover over the dots for comments. I believe that the comments are useful for supplementing the map, presenting technical information or facts, listing citations, and “explaining” the “in” jokes I like to make. CLICK HERE for the annotated mind map. Then hover over or click on the black circles. A box will display my comments on each part of the map.
huba's laws of  mind mapping



Divvy is a wonderful free data visualizer program for the Mac. The program permits a number of data reductions using highly informative transformations, cluster analysis, and plots.

Indispensable for exploring data. Free. VERY fast.

Click on images to expand.

Click here to go to the Divvy web site.


Divvy Cluster