Sunday, March 13, 2016

Part Deux: The feedback cometh. Phil Sheperd.

In answer to: The Evolution of the Visual Mapper (Part Deux)?


Phil Sheperd the founding director of Gooisoft Ltd and developer of the most intriguing Thortspace: a 3D visual thinking tool gives his knowledgeable feedback to the questions posed by Visual Mapper.

One of the refreshing things about your approach, Wallace, is that you are clearly open to true innovation and not restricted by any form of preconceived ideas.



Mind-mapping works brilliantly in all its forms and in all its iterations for the purposes it is built for and I am sure that this is why, over the last thirty years or so, mind-mapping in general has gathered such an enthusiastic following amongst senior managers (just look at the superb Biggerplate annual survey to see who actually uses mind-mapping in the work environment).



But Mind mapping is only part of the story... In the original report from 2010,  Nick Duffill of Harport Consulting says "Visual mapping includes but is not limited to mind, concept, flow and argument mapping. Of course there are more tools included; but for the sake of argument these tools adequately cover the graphical capabilities of Visual mapping. Visual mapping may be a useful term to bridge the gap and emphasize the common goal of both mind maps and other data visualization formats."

One or two of your readers may know, my colleagues and I have been quietly building a collaborative 3D thought processing tool specifically for problem solving, where
the 'juice' is in the process rather than a finished map and the main influences have not been mind-mapping or knowledge mapping but philosophers, modern psychologists and gaming-quality graphics-card capabilities so, although avid observers of all things graphical-thinking related, we could be perceived as working outside the mapping genre so I'm not sure we qualify to answer your questions(but I'll have ago anyway!)



Do you believe the Visual/Knowledge mapping arena has experienced a measurable advancement since the publication of the original article?


If yes: what do you believe have been the most relevant advancements?
1. Five and a half years is a very long time in the technology world so I would have expected quite dramatic advances. As Moore's Law has continued to prevail, there have been massive changes in hardware and computing power and big reductions in cost of access during this time. I don't yet see the world of Visual/Knowledge mapping having advanced at the same pace over this same period. That's not to say there haven't been any advances at all; there have been many superb incremental software improvements. Then there's been the growth of Biggerplate which, although specifically Mind Mapping oriented, represents an opportunity for promoting the genre to a wider audience.
During this particular five year period, however, Leaps and Bounds could have been expected - but I haven't seen them.



If not: what have been the most notable failures of advancement?
2. Perhaps there's been a general lack of breakthrough thinking about what might be possible using rapidly changing technological advances - but that applies to both users and developers.
There's a chicken and egg problem here. Developers have to take very expensive risks when investing in something highly innovative, because potential mainstream customers are very quick indeed to reach for their "too hard to learn" and "learning-curve time-investment" OFF switches almost before they get started and/or make a purchase decision.



What are the consequences for the arena based on advancements and/or failures?
3. The consequences of not investing in paradigm shifting innovation will simply be that those who do (on both sides, developers and users) will move rapidly forward while those who don't, will probably just stay where they are.
Grabbing the attention of a wider customer base is not easy but there is a growing group of potential customers in the young, millennials, who have much more open mindsets and are hungry for something different. Failing to inspire millennials with the beneficial possibilities inherent in visual knowledge mapping would be a wasted opportunity to say the least. There is a dilemma here of course; this is not the demographic that currently uses mind mapping in large numbers (see the Biggerplate survey)



Are we there yet as a mainstream addition or alternative to established productivity tool-sets?
4. The moment when one of the really big software corporations puts a visual/knowledge mapping tool into their mainstream product portfolio will be the time when maturity will occur.
This will be wonderful for all of us because we'll have a world in which untold numbers will realise that they can more easily solve problems, brainstorm, cope better with increasingly complex lives and collaborate across divides. It will also massively increase marketing possibilities for already existing development companies.

How do you envision the future of the Visual/Knowledge mapping arena?

5. As a medium for thinking and developing ideas, planning, collaborating and easily accessing and manipulating complex data, Visual/knowledge mapping can look forward to a very rosy future indeed but only if technological change is fully grasped.  The next five years are going to bring even greater innovative change to the technology world; indeed the only constant will be change itself.
We could see a breakthrough if developers can truly embrace and build for the needs of the millennial demographic in the context of up-coming 3D VR technologies



Above all, it will depend on the industry's ability to capture imaginations and powerfully demonstrate major advantages and benefits. How? Well, other industries have done it by collaborating and co-ordinating and investing in whole industry promotions....

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