Monday, January 7, 2013

Liam Hughes @Biggerplate Guest Post

It is a great privilege to be asked by a respected member of the mind mapping community to write about our plans and aspirations for Biggerplate, so when Wallace put this invitation to me, I naturally jumped at the opportunity! I have tried to focus on outlining our overall goal, and the steps we intend to take over the course of 2013 in the pursuit of this goal. I hope it will be of interest to some, and I welcome any questions, comments, or feedback that readers may have.

At Biggerplate, our aim is to become the best source of mind mapping content and community in the world. Every project we undertake, every decision we make, and every product or service we develop, has this goal firmly in mind. Over the last three years, this goal, and the focused pursuit of it at the exclusion of all else has turned Biggerplate from a small part-time web project into the biggest independent community of mind mappers in the world, and an increasingly prominent brand in the mind mapping arena. This progress has been achieved on a shoe-string budget, in the midst of a fairly spectacular recession, and with no outside investment. This is something we are very proud of, but we believe we have only begun to scratch the surface of what Biggerplate and the mind mapping world as a whole can become.

We believe the biggest challenge and opportunity for Biggerplate lies in trying to better harness and aggregate the energy, expertise, and enthusiasm that exists in the mind mapping community, and using this to fuel future development and innovation. Biggerplate is the result of constant collaboration and conversation with members of the mind mapping community, and our growth and recent success has been driven entirely by others who are kind enough to share their ideas, feedback, suggestions, and mind maps with us. Looking forward, our immediate focus is on doing more to recognize, support, and enable pro-active members of the mind mapping community, and we have a number of key projects planned for 2013 that support that focus…
Biggerplate Unplugged – This year marks the launch of one of the most exciting and ambitious initiatives to come out of Biggerplate, and something that we (and others) feel is long overdue for the mind mapping world. Biggerplate Unplugged is a series of conference events dedicated entirely to mind mapping. Kicking off in London, the conference will visit major cities around the world in 2013 and beyond, giving mind mappers a unique opportunity to come together and discuss the trends, innovations, and possible future(s) for mind mapping. Our hope is that these events will give members of the mapping community a genuine chance to shape the future of mind mapping, and (by default) Biggerplate itself. For further information, visit

Biggerplate Blog - The current blog at Biggerplate has lagged behind the development of the main site for some time, and is in need of an upgrade if it is to be considered a significant information source for the mind mapping world. We are therefore planning a complete overhaul in 2013, with the aim of building a new magazine-style blog that will be fully integrated into the main Biggerplate site. Perhaps more importantly, the new blog will feature more than just our own opinions, and will instead draw upon the expertise of some of the leading thinkers and writers from the mind mapping world. The result will be a blog that does more to highlight and champion pro-active members of the Biggerplate community, and also serves as a channel for experts within the arena to engage and reach an even greater number of people.

Biggerplate Publisher - Perhaps the biggest technical challenge for 2013, we hope this innovation will take Biggerplate, and mind map sharing in general to a higher level, by giving people greater control over their map sharing, and a greater range of options to help their maps be more widely seen, and more intelligently organized. It’s all a little secretive at present, but those members who have published several maps with us will hopefully be pleased with what’s coming down the road soon! 

In summary, there is a huge amount to do in 2013, and we are extremely excited for the year ahead, and the improvements and innovations we will be putting in place. We intend to push our resources to their absolute limits in order to deliver something that genuinely moves the mapping arena forward. It’s a massive, but very exciting challenge, and we hope mappers will get behind us by sharing content on Biggerplate, and telling others about the growing library and community, and joining us at our events!
We believe the best focus of our effort is on enabling pro-active members of the mapping community to do more, and for their content (written or mapped) to be seen more. Whether you are a seasoned mapping expert, an enthusiastic newbie, a software developer, or a mind map trainer, you can be assured that we will be doing our best to help you do more in 2013, and we hope you will like what you see. We wish you all the best for the new year ahead, and encourage you to become a pro-active member of our mind mapping community, since things are about to get really interesting…!




Wallace Tait said...

Very well written article Liam.
I'm really interested in the "Products and Services" you alluded to: any chance of giving us a slight glimpse into what to expect?

I see an involution of sorts happening at Biggerplate, and the natural tipping point that leads to the evolutionary process is very near IMO.

I certainly support your initiative and am very pleased with the progress over the past few years. From our discussion a few years ago relating to expanding the map developer formats to potential consulting services; I see Biggerplate being the entity that enables the mind/Visual mapping arena to perpetuate, survive and evolve.

What is the support level from the developers, and do you see this as being a sign that developers in general accept the future of Mind/Visual mapping is indeed going to be outwith their direct control and in the hands of such an entity as Biggerplate?

Liam Hughes said...

Hi Wallace, thanks for the kind words and interesting questions!

Product-wise, we're developing our advertising products further, which will give developers a greater ability to reach a wider audience than just the immediate community on Biggerplate. We're also developing niche advertising/promotional offerings that will help small businesses and individuals within the mapping space raise their profile. We see this being particularly relevant for training businesses, consultants, add-in developers, or smaller software developers.
From a services point of view, we are starting to build up a number of offline services, including training seminars, mapping conference events in real time, and what could broadly be called 'consulting' in relation to using mapping in business. I guess our conference events would fit under the 'services' category too.

I'm glad you support our work, and like you, I'm pleased with progress. I believe Biggerplate can (as you suggest) play a pretty key role in helping the mapping arena to move forward, but it will rely on the continuing support of our members, partners, and the developers we work with. Unfortunately, the 'build it and they will come' theory doesn't quite work in real life(!), so we rely on building close relationships with people and organisations who share our ideas and vision.

With regards to your final question; we are fortunate to have built up excellent relationships with many/most of the software developers, and they are very supportive and collaborative in working with us. I'm not sure they would agree that the future of mapping will be out of their direct control, or that it will be in the hands of any single entity like Biggerplate (we're still pretty small in relative terms). However, I think there is a general recognition that the future of mind/visual mapping lies in the collective hands of the user community, and it is therefore critical to engage with them, support them, and listen to what they say, and (perhaps most importantly) pay attention to how they actually use the software in reality. The smart vendors have figured out that working with Biggerplate is a pretty efficient way to do some of these things, and many are already reaping the rewards of doing so!