Saturday, May 29, 2010

Open Source and the free model: Are they sustainable?

I’ve been looking at Open source and free offerings recently and pondering these models. Many questions such as; Are they sustainable, are these models really free in the long run and; can I actually use Open source and free software as the backbone of my information management processes that support my business system?


OK, so if I use Open office, Xmind, Nitro pdf reader and/or integrate my work with Google mail and docs; hmm, this really got me thinking; will this really work for me?

Well here the thing; it might work, and this really kills me to say this. I actually used Open source and free software for one week during March 2010. And as much as I now need therapy because of my willful experiment, I have come to realize it might actually be doable at a stretch.

Now if you’re one of my consultant/facilitator colleagues and/or commercial software developer friends; forgive me?

I now use Google mail and IMO the more professionally polished GMX mail as my primary mail clients; MS Outlook has IMO become rather obsolete to my needs.

As a professional Visual mapper during the experiment, I used Xmind to challenge my perceived negative view of open source and free. Admittedly it worked for me to a point; there’s some functions that power Visual mappers just don’t have available in the open source and free models, so this is the downfall.

As an interesting addition; I also used The Gimp as my open source alternative to my regular use of Photoshop (yes I am a PS addict), and this worked really well too.

As much as this has been my personal experiment; I am now back to being my regular reliant self on the commercial models; "I am a realist after all". This certainly has changed me though, and I am now more aware of the open source and free alternatives.

I won’t blab on here, but it was a very interesting personal experiment. The CAVEAT of my experience to date; if you choose to conduct the same experiment, be aware of many pitfalls and the surprising epiphanies also.

As a close colleague recently pointed out to me; there's a notable difference between the Open Source and Free models. The question remains though; will these models remain Open Source and Free in the long term?

Have you tried this experiment also? What did you experience and what are your conclusions?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mark Wogan Guest Post

Mark has spent 20 years in the information management world and realized early on that information can’t be managed until it is communicated. This has been the driving force behind crystal mapping and all Mark’s work in visual mapping engagements with his clients around the world.

I’ve been developing, writing about and generally evangelizing about Crystal Mapping for a few years now. I’ve focused mainly on how it can be used in business to communicate organizational level vision and team objectives and how it can be used in education to help revision and learning. But one thing that consistently comes up in conversation, and one I’ve had in depth with Wallace Tait at, is that people see crystal maps as a natural way of setting personal goals and creating their own life maps. With this in mind here’s my take on ‘life maps’ and ’self development maps’ using crystal mapping.

Below is an example of a Personal Dashboard created in crystal mapping

Keep your eye on the left hand pane of the interactive map; this is where you're offered a linear list of the contents of the interactive map!!!!

Among the many theories, teachings and techniques in the area of personal development there are two features which are common to all and critical to success:
• You have to know where you are going
• You have to know how you’re going to get there

The first point is pretty much a given in that it is vital that you know what you’re trying to achieve and where you want to get to. Otherwise how would you know if / when you’d arrived?

The second is a bit less clear cut because there are usually a number of ways you could get to the same point. However, the fact that you need a plan or a route to follow is not in doubt. All journeys need to be planned.

Just as you wouldn’t set out to climb Everest without knowing which route you were going to take, you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t at least) set out to achieve your life or career goals without a map.

Crystal Mapping helps you map your goals so you can see where you are going and how you’re going to get there.

We work on a simple process: Think it, Map it, See it, Do it.

For most of us life is busy. We live at speed, grabbing coffee on the go, having a sandwich at our desk, making calls as we drive (hand’s free obviously). When we have ideas for things we’d like to do or changes we’d like to make we don’t write them down so we forget about them – sometimes for good. It’s important to think about what you want. So, go on think about it!

One of the problems people often find with all the different methods and techniques of self improvement and the vast library of literature that exists is how to remember the stuff which is relevant and how to bring it all together in a way that is personal to you. Well – the best way is to make a map – so it’s crystal clear what you are trying to achieve!

Visualization is the key to success for most successful people and it takes place on two levels. On one level it is important to visualise our goals in our minds and to start to allow our subconscious mind to go to work on finding strategies to achieve them. Secondly you need see how you’re progressing. Your own crystal map personal dashboard lets you see exactly how you’re performing in achieving your life goals!

When you took a few moments to think about your goals you were doing nothing new. You probably didn’t need to think that hard before a few ideas at least popped into your head. That’s because these dreams have rattled around between your ears for quite a while. But now is the time to do something different. Just do it!

John England Guest Post

The Executive director and founder of Mindsystems


I was recently reading an article by Jim Giles, in the New Scientist [May 2010] called “Giving Life to a Lie”. In it he quotes a story written by an Australian Journalist, Piers Akerman for the Daily Telegraph (2006) where Akerman claimed that global warming was exaggerated. Now it was not that fact that caught my attention but rather the reference he attributed to John Houghton, a former chair to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was “unless we announce disasters no one will listen”.

This reference was picked up by a journalist in Canada followed later by an academic in Michigan. Giles goes on the say that today there at least three books, 100 blogs and 24,000 web pages that in some way cite Houghton’s original book published in 1994. The really interesting thing is that Houghton seems never to have uttered those words in his life and they certainly do not appear in that book!!

Perhaps Akerman made a genuine mistake, perhaps he intentionally manufactured the quote ... I do not know and do not really care. However, my point is based on the thought that I wonder just how common is changing a lie or a misrepresentation into a “known fact”? How many of the statements which are taken for granted and quoted as “proof”, really have a firm basis?

I know I have jokingly said, when watching a somewhat dubious documentary on TV: “Well it must be true because it is in colour”. A silly statement certainly, but it is really based on the premise that many of us have a tendency to believe a fact if it is printed and from an apparently reputable source. A good example is Wikipedia, which many people use as a first source of reference these days. However, you should remember that this excellent online resource can be edited by just about any Tom, Dick or Harry. Certainly, I do know there are editorial controls, but Wikipedia contents cannot, in reality, be guaranteed as accurate.

The theme of the whole New Scientist issue was “Denial” in various forms. Only thing is clear that often people will simply deny an inconvenient fact (or truth) as a way of refuting a particular point of view rather that offering persuasive counter argument. A perfect example of this was Copernicus’s trial by the Catholic Church when he offered evidence that the earth revolved around the sun. The Church’s response was an absolute denial that this could be possible as it went against current teachings.

The point is that we should be careful when reading or writing blogs for two reasons:
1. Question if an assertion we read or make is founded in fact or just “parroted” because it has become “conventional wisdom”?
2. To avoid or be very wary of flat, unsupported denials as they can be a smokescreen for either a subtext or even pure ignorance

Perhaps an additional guideline would be to reserve comment for times when such comment makes a positive contribution to the discussion.

Some food for thought

As this blog is concerned with visual thinking, information handling and associated topics, here are some point worth considering:

1. Do diagrams aid understanding?
2. Is a picture worth a thousand words?
3. How important is colour and curved lines in left &; right cortex linking?
4. Are mind maps the best way to represent the majority of business information?
5. Is Cloud computing the way of the future?
6. You cannot beat face-to-face communication
Can you think of some statements or “facts” which we take for granted?

John England: MindSystems

Monday, May 24, 2010

Use the T.A.P process and experience a communication shift

I developed this "no brainer" process sometime ago, and you know what; IT WORKS REALLY WELL.

Take time to view this image, download it, study it (as if you need to), and consider printing it off as a large format print (I use poster size).

Share with your friends, colleagues and clients and help them experience a communication shift too.

Wallace Tait: Visualmapper

The surprising truth about what motivates us

This lively RSA Animate, adapted from Dan Pink's talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Data, Information, Knowledge process

Another Quick Information blog for you:

The image below is a representation of an evolution of sorts. Data (When aggregated) becomes Information (When contextualized) becomes Knowledge (When applied effectively) might just make you and your business system more effective. This effectiveness can and often is monetized.

Data is made up of: (there’s more of course)
• Words
• Images
• Numbers

Information is made up of: (Yes there more to this too)
• Purpose
• Meaning
• Process

Knowledge is made up of: (OMG, there really is so much more to this one)
• Structure
• Growth
• System

Yes; this is a simplified approach, but I would really appreciate your input, feedback and further dialogue.

Wallace Tait: Visualmapper

The Information Mapping Products I use

A quick information blog for you:

As a consultant/Facilitator; I work with many of the mainstream products; here’s a list of what I believe to be the most relevant for professional use. And; yes I use them.

There are three arenas to be considered, they are all independent, however; they are and can be interdependent.

Mind Mapping:

NovaMind: The leader of the Mind Mapping arena

IMindmap: If you’re a Buzan traditionalist, this is the one for you

Visual Mapping:

Mindjet MindManager: I just must use the leader of the pack

ConceptDraw: This product suite leads the market for innovation, usability, productivity and support

MindMapper: Simtech simply offers a turnkey information management product

Visual Mind: My first Visual mapping love, and remains to be a hidden gem to many

MindGenius: I’ve used this since it was introduced as Ygnius; a wonderful product

MindView: An awesome product that’s a leader in the making

DropMind: Seavus offer cloud SaaS and project management software too

XMind: Absolutely FREE; Very capable and must be scaring the big players

Knowledge Mapping:

MindSystems Amode: This has changed the way I Create, Manage and Exchange Knowledge

The Brain: Multi-dimensional Data, Information and Knowledge mapping. I am a Brain junkie

TopicScape: Ahead of its time for sure, this is Information Management on steroids

This arena is maturing fast. I firmly believe Cloud computing to be a relevant driver of online productivity. You've just got to take a closer look at what's being offered.

Comapping: I just can’t deny it, this product is now an integral part of my business processes.

bCisive: I'm not using this as a part of my Visual mapping tool set yet, but it is definitely worth a look at. I do use the desktop edition occasionally as a supplement to problem solving.

There are other Mind, Visual, Knowledge and Cloud mapping products and services; but this list is what I use to support the consulting and facilitation services I offer.

Wallace Tait: Visualmapper

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Greg Liberto Guest post

It's a pleasure to have Greg Liberto as our first guest post:

“Remember his name. Greg has established himself within the productivity arena that covers Personal, Academic and business arenas. He is a driven professional who has mastered the tools, methods and mindset of Graphical thinking, enabling many to benefit and make positive changes in their lives. A most effective speaker, trainer and coach who delivers relevant life changing content within his Mind Mapping Works branding.”

Wallace Tait: Visualmapper

Greg Liberto has been in the training and development industry for 15 years. His core skills are in the areas of creativity, mind mapping, goal achievement and personal motivation. He is the founder and President of Mind Mapping Works and the creator of the Success InSight workshop.

In this workshop, he illustrates how to activate your power of the subconscious mind through visualization.

As an active member of Toastmasters and the New York State Speakers Association, he prides himself as a professional speaker and has delivered thousands of presentations throughout his career. To contact Greg via email – or via Skype at gregliberto

Focused Motivation with Mind Mapping

Do you have days where you are not as motivated as others? Do you feel there are times when you are not as focused or creative as you should be? If so, you are not alone.

It is true that the coexistence of motivation and focus does not reside in all of us, even those who use mind mapping on a regular basis. I have been training on and implementing mind mapping over five years, and while creating simple mind maps inspires me to take action, I still lacked focus and the creativity to excel in certain areas of my life. This all changed when I created the Success InSight workshop.

The Success InSight workshop gives you insight into what success means to you while ensuring that you are using your power of visualization to achieve success. It is a unique blend of mind mapping, creative change, motivation, personal accountability and more, rolled into one elegant package.

It has been described by participants as “getting you out of park and into first gear” and “showing you how to take action in your life immediately”. It is uniquely entertaining, engaging and highly interactive.

The driving force behind the success of the program is the simplicity to change. While most professional development programs use sophisticated tools and means to motivate the participant, this workshop gets you motivated prior to leaving the event and keeps you going indefinitely through the implementation of your own personal success road map.

In this workshop you will learn how your Automatic Negative ThoughtS (ANTS) limit you and impede performance. You will set a specific goal in one area of your life that will generate success in a multitude of other areas. By gaining focused motivation, you will increase creativity and idea generation to a level unmatched previously.

Greg Liberto is the author of this article and the visionary behind Mind Mapping Works He has been in training and development since 1995 and provides a practical approach to visual motivation. To enable your company, school or athletic team the ability to perform at a higher level immediately, contact Greg at