Info

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

Posts tagged writing environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click images to expand.

Three styles provided with the iMindMap program.

1iMindMap 8.02iMindMap 8.03iMindMap 8.0




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

gh1Imindmap 8.0gh2Imindmap 8.0gh3Imindmap 8.0gh4Imindmap 8.0

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

 










bolero cover 3 parts FINAL

 

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 http://www.whitneysherman.com. She tweets at @Whitney_Sherman. The book is available from major online book sellers.

2014-10-26_21-24-51

 

 

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.

2014_10_27_08_51_03

 

2014_10_27_08_51_05

 

For many years I have been a fan of the iA Writer app that is a streamlined and very fast text creation tool (as opposed to a bloated word proessor). The tool works seamously across the Mac, iPad, and iPhone and files are automatically available on all three Internet connected devices. This is also the only writing app I have found that works brilliantly on all three devices and screen sizes. The iPhone version is the only text creator I have found that really works well on the small screen of the iPhone.

A few months ago, iA introduced Writer Pro, a version that incorporates many new features while simultaneously retaining the simple to use, brilliant features of the original concept. If you are serious about writing text (as opposed to doing a fully formatted version at the time of the first draft), this is the app for you (unless you are stuck with a PC). In my experience, more creative and quality writing can be done more rapidly when you are not distracted by all of the formatting options floating around on the screen.

Writer Pro is simultaneously a 5-star app like iA Writer, a 5-Ferrari app, and a 5-tank app. The developer gets a 5-brain rating.

5+5+5+5 on a 5-point scale

Warning. This app has a steep learning curve (15 minutes). Unless you are willing to invest the 15 minutes you may not figure out how this new model of writing (with four stages you can jump between) enhances the creative process. On the other hand, you will recover the 15 minutes of exploration during your first 30 minutes of “real” use.

6

 

Click on image to expand.

Drum roll please …

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

 

Notes

  1. Most other web sites that rank mind map apps carry advertising from at least several different producers of these programs while I do not. This may or may not explain my greater willingness to differentiate sharply between the apps.
  2. Your idea of what a great mind map app should be may differ from mine resulting in different ratings. Mine are particularly relevant for scientific, health, education, and personal use rather than corporate outline formatting. In fact corporate outline formatting in “mind map” programs does not really produce true mind maps, but most corporate customers do not know the difference. Learn why Buzan-style mind maps will perform far better than the “formatted outline” maps produced by many of the best selling programs before committing to one model or the other.
  3. The programs continuously change (most copy each new version of iMindMap after its release) and my ratings change fairly often.
  4. I communicate with some of the app developers (as well as other independent reviewers) via email. I try not to let these interactions with nice people and arrogant people and people with crummy business models (and crummy customer support) and development geniuses color my ratings.
  5. These ratings apply only to Mac software. I do not use any of these programs on a PC. After 25 years of 40-80 hours of PC use per week, I switched to a real computer and use Macs exclusively.
  6. I will release separate ratings for iPad apps, but in general those programs that are especially good on the Mac tend to be especially good on the iPad. Note that while I do not believe that the Mac version of Inspiration is a particularly good app, I think that the iPad implementation is among the very best.
  7. The apps I review are full commercial versions. I have yet to find a free mind map app that is even close to the best paid apps in quality and usability.
  8. Virtually all of the paid apps have free evaluation periods. Most periods are 30 days which is plenty of time to form your own judgment. Make use of the opportunities provided by the developers and vendors.
  9. And yes, the three programs that I intend to use 90% of the time or more are iMindMap, iMindQ, and iThoughtsX. My use is about 85% iMindMap and 2.5% each of the others. I spread the other 10% of my usage around, often experimenting with other programs just to see if they better fit specific uses or types of users.

This mind map that follows is the same as that above reformatted for “3D” presentation.

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

 

vdk-453-star-many

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.

G HUBA'S TOP MAC APPS OF 2013

or in 3D rendering …

G HUBA'S TOP MAC APPS OF 2013 3d

I periodically make recommendations of apps on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone that I find exceptionally useful.

For the 2013 “back-to-school-edition” I picked a rather eclectic group of apps that I use all day as a knowledge worker. Are these the only programs I use a lot. No. But these are the third-party apps I use all day, usually immediately start every time I restart my MacBook Pro, and find very helpful in the generation of new content.

These will actually be a fairly controversial set of program choice. I suggest using a fancy text editor rather than a word processing program for all but the final draft (when it should be polished in Word or Pages). A mind mapping program is continuously open on the MacBook and used to develop ideas, remember thoughts, make lists and schedules. An electronic white board or pin board is indispensable to what I do on the computer all day.

The entire suite of programs I suggest in this #mindmap cost less than $200 in their PRO versions as I write this. In all cases, get the PRO versions and skip the freebie, lite versions.

This set of software selections will probably surprise you.

Click on the image to increase its size.

THIS IS THE ORIGINAL MIND MAP.

Key Mac Programs for Day-to-Day Use

The second version has identical content to the first one but uses formatting to make the map more “memorable” (or attention grabbing). In visual thinking, small changes in graphics may make large differences in understanding and remembering.

Key Mac Apps for  Day-to-Day Use

I have wasted much of my professional life (writing time) since 1985 messing around with fonts and formatting indents and outlines and bullets and placement and TABLES and bibliographies while trying to actually create original content. It was always a lot easier to fool around with the next great font or the indent levels on bullets than it was to focus on the content. WordPerfect (I am that old) and Microsoft Word and more recently Apple Pages were not the great steps forward in productivity they claimed to be. [Before 1985 who ever cared what font text was in or how the bullets lined up? In fact, who ever knew what a bullet was before 1985?] I have come to think in recent years that “office automations” may be one of the lowest circles of hell for content creators.

Like many, I have gotten interested in writing environments and other tools that just let you write and don’t tempt you with a font change or better spacing while you are trying to actually finish writing a creative page. If I could only have all of that time spent changing fonts and styles I wasted over 27 years back, I probably could have written two more books.

So far as I can see, I am not the only one who is seeking to get rid of the distractions from Word and Pages and their ilk; there is a booming market on the Mac for writing environments, enhanced text editors, and simple word processors. I downloaded a copy of Ulysses III today after thinking about it for months and agonizing over the choice between Ulysses and Scrivener. [I did something I rarely do and actually made quite a bit of use of the demo versions of each program.] Within the next few days I expect that I will be brave enough to remove Pages and maybe even Word from my Mac. [Yes, of course I am keeping the backups, I am not that brave!] My initial experience is quite encouraging; as many have found writing in Markup (the enhanced text language of most of the current crop of writing environments) the change is for the better.

At the same time that I have concluded that formatting is not an integral part of the creative process of writing original text, I concluded that formatting IS an integral part of the creative process in mind mapping where it can help develop innovative models and methods of visual expression. I have determined this by using both the most elaborate and creative mind map program (iMindMap) that gives you great creative control over visual thinking and other programs that prepare visuals that look like my pencil drawings on file cards. Color and organic looks and clip art and spatial reorganization are integral parts of the visual creative process and become part of the creation.

A Duh Moment: Stop wasting a lot of time on formatting text materials while you are creating them. Invest your “formatting time” into creating compelling visual models using mind maps or alternatives.

It is all so obvious after you try it.

Stop and think about this. Did you learn to write a several page document when you were in primary school? Of course not. The first few short words were followed by longer words and then short sentences and eventually a paragraph you worked on for several days and eventually you worked your way up to a one-page letter or a short book report or the traditional (and dreaded) first-week of school essay, “what I did on my summer vacation.”

Now for the traditional summer vacation essay.

A sentence …

“In June I went to Jackson Hole, Milan, Barcelona, and Paris.”

Summer 2013

A paragraph …

“In June I went to Jackson Hole, Milan, Barcelona, and Paris. In Jackson Hole, we saw mountains and rode horses. In Milan we saw a castle. In Barcelona we went to the stadium of Football Club Barcelona and went to the beach. In Paris we went to museums and a big tower with an elevator. I liked all of them very much.”

Summer 2013 2

You get it. (Practice makes it easier; start SMALL.)

Just because we are big boys and girls does not mean we can skip straight into writing novels as mind maps.

But with practice we can get here …

Or here …

Or here …

image

image

image

Sketchnote Example: My Predictions of Changes in the Field of Psychology Over The Next 20 Years

image

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

simplediagrams2

conclusions

improvements

sketch mind map

Introduction to Sketchnotes

Introduction to Sketchnotes

advantages ok sketchnotes

We have sequestration and a US Congress that refuses to develop a realistic compromise US federal budget and long-term economic plan. Never one at loss for ideas, I propose that the US Congress initiate the following silent auction. As absurd as my proposal is, it seems no more absurd than the ideas expressed on cable news each night by our “striking” employees (the US Congress). Before starting this auction, I prefer that the Members of Congress and POTUS sit down once and for all and do their jobs in managing the economic future of the USA. Otherwise, they are going to have to conduct something like this auction (currently going on in a limited and inefficient manner through lobbyists and Cabinet Level administrators).

Click image to expand.

USA Auction

Over 35 years I facilitated hundreds of professional groups from 6 to 200 in size.

Here’s a few things I learned. [I did not put “have a thick skin” in the formal presentation.]

Click diagram to expand.

facilitating professional groups

The annotations on the mind map below listing my contact information were made with Napkin for the Mac. a fairly inexpensive app quickly mastered. Easy to make just about any image (graph, chart, pdf, photograph) — whether created by you or another individual — communicate more effectively. After all, who hasn’t drawn on a napkin or the back of an envelope or a photograph or an illustration in a book? [I’m trying to help you refrain from marking up the expensive original of one of those Ed Tufte books or create some new content suitable for presenting or posting.]

Click on the image to zoom.

Napkin 4

MindMapp is a brilliant new iPad app for mind mapping posted on the app store in mid-December. You can see my review of the app there. Break-through: this is an amazing app that changes the game, at least on the iPad (and hopefully iPhone).

To say that I highly recommend MindMapp is an understatement. Students and everyone who takes notes should have this app.

A map created in MindMapp about MindMapp. This was my first “real” map, and I know that I will get faster and better at this fairly rapidly. It took about 30 minutes to work through the instructions in the included self instruction module, practice, and then to draw the map.

photo

Apple has an their usual list of Mac apps for college students on their web site (not to be confused with similar lists for iPad/iPhone).

The apps selection is very good. I use most of their suggested apps very often, many daily.

There are, however, many other inexpensive apps that are especially useful for college students and professionals. Here is a supplemental list in the form of a mind map. Click on the map to expand it. My selections serve to significantly broaden the overall range of useful tools and I personally find all 11 apps to be indispensable.