Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Mind mapping arena: Perspectives

Point of view, perception, side, angle; they all mean perspective, and I’m sharing mine.

The mind mapping arena has been good to me; from my perspective, I call it visual mapping and I’ve used the name Visualmapper to define my persona within the visual mapping arena.

My angle has been one of using multiple formats (Visual mapping) compared to using a single format (mind mapping); visual mapping includes but is not limited to mind mapping and other formats such as concept mapping and flow charts.

Whether you’re happy with using a single format or multiple formats, it’s all good as far as I perceive this arena; no problem whatsoever, or is there?

From the perspective of software development; the mind mapping arena is somewhat successful.  Regarding software names and capabilities; Mindjet, CS Odessa, Simtech, MindGenius, NovaMind and Xmind are a few that deserve to be applauded for their software development work.  

Many not mentioned here; they simply clone what the leader such as Mindjet have developed and many indeed make themselves irrelevant to the furtherance of this so called arena, by way of their apparent cloning activities. And if the “other” developers merely have cool functions that add up to maybe a timeline or a different brainstorming capability; hmm, me thinks this arena needs a shakeup altogether.

Who the F**k do you think you are? You may be thinking this if you’re one of the “other” developers.  Well; I’ve been involved within the information management scene for some time, my genesis being within industry.  I’ve used and abused quite a few information management products over the past 25 years, some are excellent and some are not so excellent.

From my perspective; the software mind mapping development arena is without a doubt indebted to Tony Buzan for giving them the initial seed of development motivation.  Many software products though have struggled to get past the perception (by potential users) of the “stuck in a time warp” traditional mind mapping philosophy developed by Mr. Buzan.  A note of recognition also goes to ThinkBuzan; the developers of a truly Buzan approach to software Mind mapping.

I’m personally not a Buzan mapper; yet I do have the utmost respect for what Mr. Buzan initially formalized, and for what it has become in and through the ThinkBuzan flagship product named iMindMap.

The landscape though, certainly is not pretty regarding the plethora (over abundance) of software products that have unashamedly claimed to be mind mapping product.  It really is such a shame to see these other developers merely hijack mind mapping as an SEO advantage.  But; hey its business and these other developer have the right to develop their angle on the traditional Buzan approach to Mind mapping.
Apart from what I view, use and write about; I certainly perceive the mind-visual mapping arena to be an arena based merely on what the developers create and release as viable product.  This product may (or may not) be effectively used within the mainstream information management economy.  A note about the “information economy”; it’s real and tangible by the way we have aggregated data into information and further contextualized into usable knowledge.  Information/knowledge has become the commodity of business success.

The monetary value (ROI) of the data-information-knowledge evolutionary (development) process has indeed been realized through many people, academics and organizations becoming aware of the power of becoming visual information managers; in and through the use of the tools, methods and Mindset of Visual mapping IMO.

There’s a conundrum (puzzle) though; and it’s one relating to why we haven’t experienced a more wide mainstream acceptance of the tools, methods and Mindset of mind-visual mapping. After all; most developers offer really good, capable and effective tools for creating, managing and exchanging (monetary value) data-information-knowledge processes.  The gap between fringe (where many approaches initially live) to mainstream may be read as a chasm.

I personally engage with many of the mind-visual mapping developers, and I must say the majority are definitely most giving and open; when it has come to giving me and the rest of my fellow colleague’s access to their excellent product.

There has been though; an obvious lack of engagement from the developers to the user base (Voice of the Customer); and this has raised its ugly head as discontent (from a user perspective) towards the mainstream developers that cries “WTF are you developing; we didn’t ask for this”.  So it seems to me (my perspective) that we’ve certainly arrived at an impasse of sorts between the users and developers.

This impasse has been revealed by the developers focus on merely competing with their perceived nearest competitor.  This competitiveness is certainly not bad; yet it does seem to have thwarted further relevant development (evolution) of the needs of the voice of the customer (user base).

There are indeed devotees of specific software packages, and I certainly understand this sentiment.  I have a couple of products I simply need to be effective, capable and competitive within the information management arena.

My specific point of view would be one of challenging all developers to take a closer look at their own product and asking a few cutting question such as; are we merely cloning the perceived leaders capabilities and functions, or are we creating functions and capabilities that are enabling a quantum shift in the human condition relating to information/knowledge management.  If you’re not enabling a shift in the way we humans create, manage and exchange data-information-knowledge; well I would challenge you to consider pressing the pause button and re-examining your positioning within this so called arena.

Merely my perspective and I would be pleased to publish your perspective.