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

Posts tagged writing

This is an old story often repeated as it was typed every few hours by telegraph operators in the 1800s to test the lines. And, everyone learned to type it. The story (sentence) of course was used because it contains every letter of the English language.

[My repeated attempts to come up with a short, single sentence that is hip, cool, trendy, and oh so 21st Century, and contains all 26 letters of the English alphabet has been a failure as of this date. I am working on it.]

At any rate, everyone knows that “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

a story By  Mind map SHORT 2015

But, do you know the background research?

a story By  Mind map LONG 2015

The same “research notes” presented in summary or full form can present a sentence or a short story.

[OK, so it wasn’t really a Newfie. However my lazy, sleeping, snoring dog has been practicing for the part for years, so I let her have it. And yes — really, truly — I have had both foxes and coyotes in the front yard of my current house. I guess I could also have said that the fox was rabid (most are) but that would have changed the rating to PG-13.]

Geek Boy - Two Thumbs Up

Sometimes the following trick helps me both code notes (or task lists) and grabs my attention when the ignored task list is floating around on my desk or becomes part of the wad of notes, receipts, and other small pieces of paper that accumulate in my pockets. I review the wad of paper regularly (hopefully finding it before I put the pants or shirt in the laundry and being transformed to lint in the dryer).  This little trick is used by people who make sketchnotes for a living (see the wonderful books by Mike Rohde on sketchnoting). Sketchnoters — because of their business and professional audience — tend to use a more subtle and artistic version of what I do (after all their audience is wearing suits while my audience is me wearing shorts and an old T-shirt). Same principle though.


[Star Trek may have incorporated the following idea into some of its episodes.]



The thick-thin pens are called Fude de Mannen by their manufacturer Sailor and fairly inexpensive. A much more elegant and expensive option that does the same thing is any Sailor fountain pen with a Zoom nib. You can also do the same shift between thick and thin inexpensively with a Noodler’s flex pen or many calligraphy pens (the Japanese ones are best and brush pens work even better) or much more elegantly and expensively with either a Pilot Falcon pen or any Pilot pen equipped with an FA nib. I have no commercial relationship to any of these companies. The odds of finding any of these pens in a brick-and-mortar store in the USA are fairly low but they are available widely on the Internet with many coming directly from Japan (yup, they ship anywhere).


I use different writing implements to vary things, color code, and even slow myself down (like the decorative fonts do) in order to increase the time for memory encoding, to build in uniqueness that grabs attention, and to amuse myself (I am easy to amuse).

Many of these “tricks” are the same as those as used in mind mapping without the most important feature of structuring, restructuring, and formally associating many ideas.

The next logical step after these kind of notes is mind mapping which I strongly endorse. On the other hand, some people just want to takes notes and may not want to take the time to carefully think through them or organize their thoughts, and for those folks at least remember this.

&&& the purpoSe of noteS is to REmemBER in parT because the noteS are MEMOR(Y)able and you pay more attention to them ***

While I cannot prove this, it is my guess that these techniques will also be useful for those with memory and attention problems like normal aging, cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and ADHD. But all of these conjectures require empirical research to substantiate and are just WAGs (Wild Ass Guesses) on my part at this time.

Click on the image to expand it.

The Process of Writing in Mind Map



<p>The Process of Writing in “Mind Map” </p>

<pre><code>CART Algorithm
basket of
but thorough
step 1
lecture notes
research literature
public domain
by you
lecture notes
step 2
rough outline
1st draft
mind map
step 4

target audience
guide for
future work
add notes
step 3
additional drafts
2nd drafts
repeat as needed
important but often ignored part of process
© 2013-2014 g j huba phd





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.


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 …




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


Every day, the Newseum in Washington, DC, receives electronic copies of many of the world’s newspapers. They print them and post at least one from each US state/territory and many from throughout the world.

The next day they start all over again.

It is amazing to see all of these front pages for one day adjacent to one another. The common and the local; the political and the social-entertainment.

3.16.2013. A smattering of those available inside and outside the museum.

Click on images to zoom.

March 16 2013  350 March 16 2013  349 March 16 2013  348 March 16 2013  347 March 16 2013  346 March 16 2013  345 March 16 2013  344 March 16 2013  343 March 16 2013  342 March 16 2013  341 March 16 2013  338 March 16 2013  337 March 16 2013  336 March 16 2013  335 March 16 2013  334 March 16 2013  333 March 16 2013  332March 16 2013  351

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

Position Opening: Physician. Thousands of opening available throughout USA. All specialties. Highest priority for primary care.


Four-year medical degree, several years of supervised post-doctoral clinical experience. Additional research experience a plus. In possession of a medical license within the state of practice.

Proven effectiveness in communicating with ill, confused, poor, disenfranchised patients, many with co-occuring mental illness and/or chemical dependency and cognitive impairment. Fluency in written and oral Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Farsi, Tagalog, and Arabic a plus.

Ability to work closely with a multi-disciplinary team and communicate well with nurses, social workers, allied health professionals, patients, families, insurers, and malpractice lawyers all of whom may complain at any time that the physician asserts too much influence on patient care.

Willingness to work in conditions were salaries are decreasing annually, patient-doctor ratios are expected to be dramatically higher, and one will be subject to working long work weeks, religious and family holidays, and on an irregular schedule.

Ability to work in a larger healthcare system subject to rules of practice detrimental to patient care with unnecessary and inappropriate regulations, attacks from the public as well as politicians and the press, frivolous malpractice lawsuits that require expensive and lengthy litigation, and very high accompanying stress.

Ability to accurately make life-death decisions while stressed, tired, and in non-optimal settings. Willingness to do so for a low compensation rate.

Willingness to maintain licensure and take regular continuing education courses without compensation.

Ability to spend a large percentage of time completing unnecessary forms in order to obtain insurance reimbursement and to avoid frivolous malpractice lawsuits.

Compensation Range: very low to low.

Immediate openings throughout United States.

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.


No surprise — after saying it 1000 times — that I think that mind maps can, in fact, be the written document. Fiction. Biography. Political arguments. Chemical structures. Astronomy. Record reviews.

Here is a little story. Look at the post right before this one.

As usual, click the image to zoom.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

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.