Sunday, July 12, 2020

To be or not to be a Visual Mapper!

To be or not to be a Visual Mapper!

That is the question, and a challenging one at that.

Conundrums galore for sure for the knowledge manager. BTW we’re all knowledge managers to a degree; if you think then you’re processing usable knowledge.

Ideation; that process of getting your thoughts on paper or digital. Paper works and digital formats work too, both are valid and for many they’ll stick to using one or the other. I find; like me, most use both formats. Paper to make cursory notes that lead into the use of software tools to enable a more defined and refined framework of reference and output.

I doodle a lot, they make absolutely no sense to anyone other than me. The subjectivity of doodling is a form of protective writing that’s naturally encoded. No need for an encryption here eh?

Sketching? No! I’ve never really gotten into sketching like some of my colleagues who are pretty damn good at it. When I say sketching, I mean the more expressive type rather than the stick characters and scribbles, which seem to work too. I’ve noted some colleagues are using very professional type of sketching products on mainly tablets. They are indeed very well done.

The graphic facilitators among our colleagues are quite artistic and if you ever get the chance to witness how and what they accomplish, it’s almost magical. To me though, the time allotted to this kind of artistic approach to creating presentations in real time for clients is almost like a stage act. The audience are captivated and enjoy seeing the final act.

There’s advantages to almost every form of graphical expressions available within the Visual mapping tool-box. Some are more powerful than others and some have had their day and the tool has to be either discarded or redesigned for further use.

The hand drawn mind map claimed the throne many years ago and kind of did have prominence for a time. Software mind mapping came along and functions were added that became a multiple formats approach to what became known as visual mapping. The tool-box of Visual mapping was established when software developers finally listened to their users who asked for rudimentary flow chart functions, Gantt functions and Excel range inputs and outputs. The range of functions and capabilities we have now within a few products is quite amazing.

A couple of notable products, whilst adding these other graphical representations to their software was expected and even demanded; the software code became bloated and the product became slow. And the file format wars began. The cloud took care of the file format wars (for now).

Behemoths such as Mindjet, SimTech and CS Odessa prevailed and do so to this day. They all have their unique and peculiar functions and capabilities. So much so; that I actually use all three products, as each product strength is not cloned or emulated within each of these three products.

I shall say though; CS Odessa the developer of the ConcepDraw software range has in fact done the best job of offering three distinct products that are extremely powerful yet can and do have a synergy (they communicate with each other) within an office suite build. The beauty of this approach is that the three distinct products of Mindmap, Diagram and Project can be code design supported and updated as individual products and not be responsible for being a bloated and over/under coded product that needs to be continually monitored for code errors and crashes.

So we know there’s many software products for enabling ideation to be realized. But does the knowledge manager need to or feel obliged to create, manage and present her information and knowledge in a graphical format at all?

To be or not to be a Visual Mapper is the question; and the answer to that is no, not really.

The efficacy of knowledge manager of this part of the 21st century is dependent upon knowing what formats to use; linear and non-linear to create manage and share (present) in formats that have the most synaptic impacts on colleagues ,clients and employees.

In many cases the developers of these awesome products, many I use and abuse have, continued to develop amazing functions and capabilities into their products and seem to have taken their eyes off what has been developed for the knowledge manager parallel to what they have offered.

Again, the knowledge manager doesn’t really need to grab a graphical mapping product to create, manage and share ideation, innovation and creativity with their colleagues and others.

Maybe the developers were aware or maybe they were wilfully ignorant of other approaches that were plodding away and gaining huge user numbers within personal development, academia and business productivity areas.

I speak of course of products such as Notion, Roam Research and the relatively new Obsidian.

The graphical mapping developers may indeed be scrambling to develop functions that emulate these non competing product ranges that may in fact challenge the visual mappers reliance upon graphical mapping tools they generally use.

It is after all the job of the information handler, knowledge manager/ architect to be in total control using even relational database functions to keep all of her information and knowledge available in a product/service that is both comfortable to use/view/comprehend and has a very light learning curve.

I continue to use my preferred visual mapping products; yet I have been amazed as to the exponential development of Notion and Roam Research in particular. Have these products caught the visual mapping developers off guard? I’m thinking maybe.

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