Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mapping out information and knowledge just works

Just had to post this quick blog.  I was visiting Twitter and I came across a link to an article attached to a tweet by @AlliCrow better known as Graphic facilitator AllisonCrow Flanigin from Austin, TX.

The article can be accessed here. I was so impressed with the article that I quickly made up a MindManager Mind map overview of the Visual Accessing Cue's. It is clear to see; mapping out information and knowledge just works.

Being a Visual mapper (Facilitator) includes more than merely mapping out thought processes and helping clients to become more graphically aware of the value of Mind-Visual-Knowledge mapping.  

I have personally delved into studying the human condition, and I am continuously learning new and exciting things about communication.

One of the fascinating subjects I have become a student of is NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programing). I certainly don't claim to be an expert in the use of this rather interesting set of tools; put it this way; NLP for dummies is a book I bought awhile ago and it's kind of worn out now with use.  

I also bought a book a number of years ago now called "Words That Change Minds" by Shelle Rose Charvet; I encourage you to purchase Shelle's excellent book, and I'm sure it will challenge, inspire and motivate you to look out for the connectiveness of how we communicate, observe and influence our environments.

Shelle has an excellent site you can access here.

Why we really do need to consider Mind mapping

We have many excellent tools available these days to ensure we are reasonable organized, with less stress, and more productive. Yet for apparently inexplicable reasons (that's a lie), we seem to be less organized, more stressed and willfully unproductive.

Having been involved in helping many clients with personal, academic and business information management issues; I am convinced the genesis of change for many is the introduction to mind mapping tools and methodologies that can exponentially enhance their information management skills.

Take a look at the John profile below, it may resonate with you.

John could be a Jane, it's certainly not gender specific, yet this profile is all too common. The genesis of change for John or Jane IMO, would be benefited by an introduction to the tools and methods of Mind mapping.

Why? Well in my experience an introduction to Mind mapping is in many cases the starting point for a shift in the users conscious awareness of a more effective way to create, manage and exchange data, information and knowledge.

Going from the terribly written scribble to a clear Mind map is just the starting point for many: see below

Each and everyone of us manages information; of course we do, we are humans and therefore we are thought generating systems.  We are capable of whole brain thinking that includes deductive and inductive thinking, we think not only in words, images and numbers, but we generate contextual information, and in turn create usable knowledge. This is just the way it is for we humans.

I am very privileged to know such visual mapping thought leaders as Roy Grubb, John England, Nick Duffill, Toni Krasnic, Mark Wogan, Olin Reams, Michael Deutch, Brian Friedlander, Pascal Venier, Vic Gee, Wojciech Korsak and many others I fail to mention here (apologies).

Some are business consultants and some are developers of excellent software products; they are more than capable of guiding you into a place where you can choose a product that suits your information management needs and wants. 

So; as you search through the Visualmapper blog list to date (top right of this page), I hope you find relevant information that assists you in solving the issues that John and Jane seek to remedy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mindmapping in a post-PC world

OK so I’ve just alienated half my readers - post-PC Apple none sense - pah? My name is Craig Scott and I’m the developer of iThoughts - a mindmapping app for the iPhone and iPad. In this article I’m going to talk a little about mobile mindmapping and why it’s a good thing - but mostly I’m going to try and sell you my app.

I think Mr J has nailed it. The world is moving towards more ‘personal computing’ - where people do much of their e-work on personal devices such as phones and tablets. The desktop will not disappear, but it will be relegated to more of a back office role. All the e-thinking (the valuable stuff) will be captured on personal with a (small p) computers.

Mindmapping is a killer app in this ‘post-PC’ world.

People use mindmapping for many different purposes - but for the sake of this article I will refer to their use as an idea capture and distillation tool - an ‘Idea Still’. Everyone knows that the greatest ideas come to you in the shower, which is where the iPad really....shouldn’t be! However, once you’ve had that idea it generally needs fleshing out and thinking through. This is where devices like the iPad come in. Thinking things through is best done when you have time to yourself - ‘spending time with your thoughts’. Those opportunities often present themselves when you’re already ‘killing time’ with your choice of personal computer - airports, trains, hotels, in the garden, laying in bed and dare I say it - in the bathroom (oleophobic works right?)

It’s not only the ubiquity of the device which makes it ideal for mindmapping - it’s more subtle than that. There’s something about physically manipulating your thoughts - it helps with the thinking process somehow. Previously we might have written ideas on paper cards and rearranged them on a table - now we can do it on the screen with our fingers. Mindmapping is also an inherently visual process - something that’s really enhanced by  the bright and vivd screens and attention grabbing animation effects (eye candy some call it!)

The killer for me, though, is that the ‘Apple Vision’ for the iPad experience is so in-sync with the requirements for an ‘Idea Still’. The Apple Vision is to put people directly in touch with their ‘stuff’ (photos, music etc.) - the iPad itself and its apps should go unnoticed. This is what mindmapping has been waiting for - a way for people to focus entirely on their thoughts and ideas unencumbered by complex tools and user interfaces.

So to repeat my previous assertion, mindmapping was and is great on the PC but its true potential will really be unleashed on the ‘post-PC’ device.

Convinced? Looking for a ‘post-PC’ mindmap app? You’ve come to the right place - iThoughts has been my labour of love (and more recently my sole income) for over 2 years now. During that time, I’ve learnt a great deal about what people want from an ‘Idea Still’. Based on customer feedback, I’d list the most popular aspects of the app as follows:

  Dropbox Integration
  Triple Tap - a quick way to create new topics using only the keyboard.
  Desktop App Integration - Mindmanager, XMind, Freemind etc.
  Folders - to organize your maps as you would on a desktop.

 This has helped me distill the 4 core principles which now drive iThoughts development:

  Compatibility - must ‘play nicely’ with other applications.
  Connectivity - iPhone and iPad are mobile devices.
  Functionality - it’s a tool - it must assist the user.
  Usability - if it’s not usable - people will not use it!

Plays Nicely...
iThoughts is compatible (import and export) with many of the most popular desktop applications:

  ConceptDraw MINDMAP

In addition it can import/export OPML which is supported by applications such as Omnioutliner, Scrivener, Curio and many others.

Maps can also be exported as images and PDF files.

Is Connected...

iThoughts is integrated with a number of cloud based storage systems:

  Any WebDAV enabled service

This enables users to collaborate and share maps seamlessly using a ‘single tap synchronization’ feature.

Maps can also be emailed to and from iThoughts, uploaded/downloaded over WiFi using a browser and transferred using iTunes.

Is Functional...
iThoughts supports many of the ‘standard’ features found in most high end desktop applications such as:

  Floating Topics (multiple maps on the same canvas)
  Boundaries (grouping branches together)
  Callout Topics (the sticky notes of mind mapping)
  Topic Attributes (colour, shape)
  Topic Icons (over 90 ‘built in’)
  Topic Notes (with hyperlink support)
  Relationships (additional link lines between topics)
  Task Management (start/due date, progress and priority attributes)

Is Usable...
Everything in iThoughts is designed from a user’s perspective. As much as possible I strive to make the interface go unnoticed. Some of the features which I believe assist usability are:

  Auto Organize feature keeps things tidy.
  Auto Colour/Shape selection keeps things visual.
  Drag/Drop Topics and Branches for speedy organization.
  TextExpander integration and Keyboard Shortcuts (triple tap) for fast data entry when brainstorming.
  Unlimited Undo/Redo for those second thoughts.
  iOS4.2 Fast App Switching helps maintain your train of thought.
  Cut/Copy/Paste information between branches, maps and other applications.

So what does the app look like?

 ...and what will it look like going forward (the next big feature is ‘image topics’)

 Where to find out more:

...or drop me a line at