Sunday, December 20, 2020

What a roller coaster ride 2020 has been.

It’s been a doozy hasn’t it?

The year actually started off rather well, although we did have a glimpse that the World Health Organization and the Communist party of China were keeping the whispers of some kind of virus emanating from Wuhan a real well kept secret from the global media. Yes they were basically lying; those entities are good at the lying game eh.

And then splat; the shit hit the fan.
We all basically shut shop for around three months; well we did in my neck of Canada. It was all kind of surreal at first wasn’t it? And then the reality checks came one after the other.

Regardless of how the whole thing came at use like an out of control train; we seemed to handle the national shutdown rather well here in Canada.

We all basically couldn’t go the factory, store or office to work and remote working schedules became the norm for some white collar workers at least.

It did seem that opportunities dried up, and as fellow colleagues within the knowledge management field cried like me; where the hell has our clients gone? Of course the covid scenario affected everyone; blue and white collar alike, we all were affected and stopped in our tracks by the so called virus.

Some of us became depressed and shrunk back into ourselves, sought help from therapy that became solely an online service all of a sudden, and many simply shrugged it off and became a tad more inventive.

Now if depression and stress has been your journey, I wish you well hoping you have sought out professional help to get back on track to becoming more positive and productive for you and your families.

If you’re the number of people who shrugged it off and viewed the shut down that forced the reality of remote and virtual as more inventive ways of making a living; I salute you.

For me; I must admit I did get a tad down in the dumps for a short time. Then my wife kicked my arse into gear and encouraged me in her own special way to pick myself up and reset the ways I may seek out meaningful connections and opportunities.

I began by looking at the landscape of horrible, terrible, awful wrecks of businesses that had folded pretty much a month after the lock down. I looked in awe at the carnage this out of control train called covid has caused to many of my former close colleagues business models.

Of course the reality check for me was that my contracts were for the most part remote to begin with and I did still have some residual income heading my way due to my relationships with quite a few corporate survivors.
Yet the underlying question I was asking myself was, “why did my colleagues fold so easily a month into the lock down”?

The answers became very real to me when I connected with a few of my colleagues to ask WTF happened to their business models?

One after another they all stated they didn’t have a system in place that would have guaranteed their sustainability. The system I speak of is one of assuring their business processes were available both as hard copies and of business local and cloud based too in a systematic format.

At that time I was investigation a curious cloud app called Notion and entertaining an interest in an even more curious web app called Roam Research.
I chose to dive into Notion as I was in dire need to get myself into gear and become more savvy regarding creating a framework that would maybe become the new model for me.

And so I dived into Notion. Now as I blab here I am currently 8 months deep into using and abusing Notion. I’ve met some very interesting and motivational thought leaders in the process and have become a little more than a tad changed due to my exposure to Notion and some thought leaders within the Notion Universe.

Offices have been my preferred mode of operation for processing my work, connecting with clients and meeting potentials. That kind of halted when the lock down happened, and as I write, the office is gone (maybe forever).

I employed people, I personally interacted with people one on one and I really enjoyed that aspect of business. That too has ended for the most part and I don’t see any of this returning to the personal touch any time soon.

Ah! Back to Notion.
At first I looked at this new curious product/service and thought “Oh another cloud app that promises it’ll be your one thing”.
Strangely enough it has almost become my one thing as far as creating, managing and exchanging (sharing) potentials and probabilities of my business models.

It has indeed been an enlightening journey staring with Notion.
Yes it was a journey and to say it was a smooth ride would be lying through my teeth. It was and has been one of the most frustrating and angst driven journeys that has caused me to consider seeking out an anger management therapist......again (yes again).

Frustrating was an understatement to be frank; learning Notion, whilst worth every minute spent angrily screaming at the product and myself (yes anger management); I finally found via the Notion universe two thought leaders who became mentors to me and countless other by way of their video YouTube training of Notion.

These two brilliant people are Marie Poulin and August Bradley; their Twitter handles are @mariepoulin and @augustbradley respectfully. There have been others too that I have consulted with, yet these two are indeed thought leaders of the highest calibre who took the time to mentor and encourage me to have more patience regarding what turns out to be an ever evolving Notion Framework.
I encourage you to seek them out at Twitter too; as well as many other leaders within the Notion Universe such as Danny Hatcher @DannyHatcher, Ali Abdaal @AliAbdaa.

Databases, kanban boards, Knowledge management at a higher level and team consultations were what I have accomplished with Notion to date. Are there other products that perform and offer like functions? Yes of course there are, they’re all pretty good but Notion has of all products I have surveyed thus far the best customization functions and capabilities and they’re expanding and improving almost weekly.

So here I am at the end of my blithering to tell you that you too can experience my most frustrating journey to date in my long business life; that if you dare, and I do dare you to. You will simply thank me after you experience the same as I have.
Notion has for the most part become my virtual office, and I find it hard to admit this as my virtual office for many years has been TheBrain.

Go grab Notion it’s free for personal use and super affordable if you wish to buy into it. Go for it and allow Notion to assist you to develop into the knowledge worker you deserve to be; in control and assured of knowledge success.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

The lure of those Cloud apps; that is until the Cloud fails you

 The lure of those Cloud apps; that is until the Cloud fails you.

Oh boy; when it fails you, it fails you big time eh?

Have you ever been just about to go on line to chat with colleagues or to make your super human presentation and the Cloud simply goes for a walk on you? Yup its happened to me numerous times, and when it does happen it’s usually epic.

There are a growing number of cloud apps that are simply phenomenal in their approaches to offering us ways to create, manage and present our thought processes in the cloud.

To mention a couple of notable’s such as; Notion, Roam Research is clear the cloud based app services are growing at an exponential rate; and they’re damn good. Knowledge management is at the core of these product offerings.

The caveat of course is the fact that most are cloud based and not native to our local drives. This is an issue for many with strict security and privacy processes to follow.

The mentioned apps are rather good at what they do; Notion as a single point landing page for all of your relevant thought processing and Roam Research for some pretty damn impressive researching capabilities with back linking as the strength of their approach. Obsidian of course is the new kid on the block that may challenge even the powerful Roam., due to it being dedicated to being a local drive product and not exclusively cloud based.

I mention these products merely as a snapshot into how knowledge management and mapping has developed in the past few years. No longer are visual thinkers of the past using the mind mapped format to create, manage and express (share) their relevant information and knowledge repositories. A growing number of knowledge workers are turning to the mentioned products that offer a more streamlined and somewhat comfortable linear framework for working at personal, academic and business levels.

What has struck me recently is that a few of my prominent visual mapping colleagues have dropped (yup ditched) their preferred graphical mapping products to be seduced by these new approaches to how we may aggregate data into information, contextualize it and enable it to become a usable and improvable knowledge base. I don’t blame then TBH.

I believe it was Tiago Forte who recently suggested that software/services have as little as 5 year life spans these days as the nature of app evolution suggests products must be developed in such a way so as they can acquiesce to the dominance of newer and more functional products in the future. And this is why these new products are using markup as their textual language within their products. This makes it so much easier to transport data, information and knowledge between products.

Most, if not all of these products (except Obsidian) mentioned though are cloud based; and for me this is an issue of ownership of data, privacy and security. None of which are guaranteed by any cloud products at all. Yes I know, it’s a choice many willingly make, yet I believe we have as a collective been seduced into giving up our privacy to the cloud via some of these excellent and even brilliant apps. The data mining that obviously goes on within this arena is quite disturbing and a reveal of how deep modern app product/services openly and proudly data mine their users personal, academic and business data.

I must admit I am using Notion at this time; yet I continue to use as my preferred graphical mapping, and TBH I get things done just as fast as I would with products such as Notion, Roam and Obsidian.

The things we used to do on our personal computers as little as five years ago now for free; we’re actually paying subscription these days in order to get the same things done.

The Cloud though; when it fails you the shit hits the fan; not so with local based software, and this is where the mentioned Obsidian wins to a degree. Yeah but we all need the cloud now don’t we? Yes to use between devices and to sync and to have at our fingertips all of our relevant data.

I agree; It’s true we really do need and rely upon the cloud sync don’t we; I do to a degree too.

What’s your thoughts regarding these products, their offerings and promises to make our thought lives more effective? The industry that has grown out of these products is phenomenal, impressive and scary at the same time. The courses offered to users in order to get them to a point of mastery (or slavery) of a product is genius marketing and herding at its best.

The second brain claim doesn’t grab me at all, yet it’s also a genius commercial grab. The second brain courses cost a lot of money when you could actually just learn it on your own and become your own expert. Many simply don’t want to do the work of learning and accept the grab on their reliance on having and learning anything in this age instantly. I guess paying someone to do the work for you is the standard these days.

I say; use your own first brain as it’s absolutely free; did you know that?

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Procedure, Process or System: what matters to you?

 Procedure, Process or System: what matters to you?

I recently started using a notable cloud markdown based knowledge management tool. Well in reality it’s a pretty damn good evolution of Evernote that’s evolved way past any users expectations. Dangerously and out of control way past anything expected or imagined.

And as of the writing of this blog post, I’m 4 months in; and still chasing my own tail in a perpetual mind **** of setting up a framework and making no tangible gains of realizing the obvious (to everyone else) of just using the tool.

Yes maybe you’ve come across a most useful product others so successfully use, and you thought; “hey I’m gonna use that too and become more organized and as successful as them”.

And here I am 4 damn months in and none the wiser.

So I’ve pressed the pause button and gave myself a slap on the head and said out loud “What the heck (I used a stronger taboo word) are you playing at guy.

OMG I should really know better; after all I’m the one usually helping others who seem to be trapped in some kind of information maelstrom. What struck me though was that I’d been had by the age old trick of grabbing attention by functions and capabilities. And they’re pretty damn awesome functions and capabilities too; yet there’s just too many to be of any practical use to me, you and everyone else. Synaptic overload was the result.

By way of this experience I realized I was stuck in a process trap, and that process whilst (in reality should be) enabling in the long term a systems approach to the tool; successfully disabled my cognitive realization of the larger system.

I had to remember I’ve used a specific tool for almost 20 years that graphically managed all of my relevant processes supported by procedures. And these processes I managed and improved were part of a system of working I had made standard throughout my knowledge work. It just worked, so why go looking for something new to satisfy my curiosity for new tech.

There was just no need to go looking for another fix to satisfy my need for functions and capabilities. Yet I did fall off the wagon and went looking for a newer, better more attractive alternative.

Yes I was stuck inside a process and disregarded supporting procedures of investigation, and I willingly forgot about the wholeness of the system.

So I want to leave you with questions:    

◙ What is more important to you regarding perpetuating your own system?

◙ Are processes important to your system framework?

◙ And are supporting procedures realized as the drivers of your processes?

Oh I believe you know the answer as I do; Think Wholistic and realize system.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

They’re everywhere and they’re part of the process; Oh my!

 Our graphical formats are in many cases the least of our worries when we deal with clients and their internal issues.

I have a good old belly laugh when I consider the reality that ego plays such a prominent part in how many individuals position themselves within any arena; especially that of our clients who call on our skills sets.

Many of us have been around the knowledge and systems management arena for some time, and there’s stages we all go through in our personal, academic and business lives.
Ego is one of them, and when the dreaded ego thing raises its ugly head, we are presented with a stage that is full of unintended clarity. The script has been written (imagined and planned), the chosen actors are handled into place, and the audience has been pre-conditioned. The outcome is rather scientifically assured

Have you experienced this very same scenario; I’m thinking it’s the same or similar in structure for us all. In other circles the ego is expressed in the proverbial role of the Agent Provocateur. Yes that person whose aim (regardless of agenda and handler) is to enter a group and to cause disruption and eventually the demise of their target by way of deception, false (fake) news and to cause endless useless processes of misdirection so as to make their target and audience unmanageable and rather useless. Then the real agenda unfolds; that of attack, dominance and eventual hostile takeover. 

The outcome is indeed scientifically assured and we see it time after time in every arena we service don’t we? Let’s face it, the media (fact or fake) use this very process so very effectively.

The seed has been planted, the values have been established, the beliefs are manipulated and the thoughts flow with precision. Those thoughts choose an emotional response and ultimately the audience is led into actions that are so (common and special cause) predictable by the provocateurs and handlers.
Yet we as Knowledge Architects arrive at a client’s place of operations knowing all of this probability and potential. Well I certainly hope you and I arrive prepared and have fully profiled our client’s original concerns and needs. Yes there’s more profiling by way of our auditing methodologies employed and applied.

We help people, institutions and corporate; yes that’s what we do at the core of our services as consultants. And we are knowledge Architects who arrive to assess (audit), profile and to create a framework for continuous improvement within our client’s thinking and doing environment’s.
The push back is that resistance to change that’s given stage by the plans of the provocateurs. And as graphical thinkers; we are charged with a responsibility to do our best to achieve a consensus. That agreement status our graphical work wishes to achieve.

Graphical mapping is merely one aspect of our communications skills for sure. And no we are not trained psychologists, (well I’m certainly not); yet we have accumulated so much understanding of the human condition in and through our delivery of procedures, processes and systems. We understand the most important function of any system, and we communicate with clarity towards it. Yes it’s the people for sure. Have you experienced that resistance to change within your client’s environment as you create frameworks for BMS continuous improvement? And how have you dealt with it?

Friday, August 7, 2020

The systems thinking employee: where are they?

Over the years of involvement within visual knowledge mapping/management; I’ve realized a mindful place (mentally, and even spiritually) where I contemplate and apply the continuously evolving mental models of understanding relating to information and knowledge.

And again; over the years I’ve been introduced to quite a few models that overview and detail knowledge base repositories for those who seek to be more acquainted with and practice the tools, methods and mindset of systems thinking.

What has impacted me though recently is the fundamental gaps that exist within the hierarchy of society regarding the understanding, use and sharing of the mindset of systems thinking.

Systems thinking in general is and continues to be the perceived domain of business and in particular corporate business regarding process and system.

The regular person in many cases looks at systems thinking as a set of tools and methodologies (system in itself) for business rather than it being a tool for personal development.

I recently walked through a manufacturing facility with all of its various processes that support their system of operation. I was impacted by the regular people on the shop floor who seem to be performing mundane tasks according to their work process instructions (procedures).

Yet talking to many of the line operators I was struck by their profound and natural understanding of procedure, process and system. They were systematic and systems thinkers.

Yet this profound understanding by line working employees is not in any way tapped by the OEM org or their system of operations. And this got me thinking; how can systems thinking be more formally encouraged and taught by way of clarity of communications within industry; especially for the most important part of any process.....People!

Your thoughts?

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Heads in the cloud and forgotten privacy

Heads in the cloud and forgotten privacy.

A colleague and good friend recently said to me “we’ve come a long way since web 1.0".

Yes we have, and it’s been a journey of gains and losses.

Here we are within web 2.0 and V3 knocking at the door and chomping at the bit to get going in the race for dominance and a piece (if not all) of our data. Quantum Computing? Yeah that’s gonna be the game changer, and it’ll happen in my lifetime for sure.

It has been a strange and curious journey hasn’t it? We’ve arrived (currently) at a point in time where generational many younger folk just don’t understand us older users of traditional UX/UI and our bemoaning of ownership rather than subscriptions. Yeah the younger generation are (or have been) so conditioned into actually believing that everything is a subscription and data protection and privacy is a thing of the past.

I use a lot of legacy software products; yeah we call them apps now. The kind of products that you actually downloaded and stored (archived) the installer exe. Oh I know; that is just so last century now eh. I actually used a 10 year old version of MS Office up until a few months ago before jumping all over Corel WordPerfect Office suite, Only because the interface was rather old school and the exe was and is reusable. It actually kicks Micky soft’s **s.

Haven’t you noticed or realized; what we used to do for free maybe even as lately as 5 years ago, we now subscribe to? For this getting older guy involved in some pretty damn interesting projects; it’s a challenge (read curse).

And then there’s the hardware. It’s changing at an exponential rate. Jeez; hard-drives are even becoming old school.

The cloud though is a real challenge for me. Yes I use it extensively, yet I must continually remind myself that There is no cloud (a crafty name), it’s merely someone else’s computer (server). Yes we tend to forget this don’t we; and we’ve certainly been conditioned into believing this arrangement is okay and actually a convenient arrangement.

I recoil in pseudo shock when friends and colleagues shriek “F**k I’ve been hacked......Again”. I basically give them a show of emotional support and kinda psychologically coach them into a nice place where they can recoup their mindset and reform their use of and understanding of the beautiful cloud that has metaphorically F****d us over since it’s inception.

Yes I’m cynical when it comes to willingly offering up data to the cloud that is unashamedly data-mined by developers who get us to download, use and abuse (by subliminal means) and add our private and sensitive data to what has been termed Free for Personal use products.

I mean, what part of F*****g stupid doesn’t that scream at you? Some products are so enticing that we jump all over them like a dog on heat and make some kind of pseudo psychological love moves on them.
The numbers following some of these actually awesome products are impressive. I recently was enticed by a product that took me a little over two months (yup) to eventually set up that suited my ways of creating, managing and exchanging (sharing) information and knowledge.

Then I had to stop myself and ask the question I have been advocating all along and never even thought of following my own advice. Yes I forgot (WTF) to ask the developer all about their data protection and security arrangements. I did ask them.......and got silence.

So my head was in the clouds (and also up my own **s), because of my stupid lack of process. I was seduced by an awesome (it’s still awesome) product that could have (and maybe still have) the potential to change my knowledge management practices. I believe the product can still add to my knowledge work, yet that data security and privacy thing has stopped me in my tracks.

Caution and discernment for sure when we choose to add software (apps) and cloud (someone else’s computer) arrangements for our data. BTW: That awesome product/service I use? I connected with the developer who gave me this answer “If you’re not happy using our product; don’t use it, we’re not forcing you to use it are we?”.


Enough said eh; end of.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Monetizing your knowledge:

Monetizing your knowledge:

This is going to be real short, and it’s a kinda gripe.

I recently had a comment here at Visual Mapper Blog spot by someone who preferred not to identify them self. I decided not to post their comment as it is, in my opinion, rather disingenuous to anonymously take without giving.

The comment was in response to the article titled; “Mention the $$$ value of Visual Mapping and people magically listen”.

The anonymous person (or bot) asked “How do you monetize your knowledge via Visual Mapping?”.

I use a few visual mapping products that have impacted my work over the many years of involvement within the mind, visual, knowledge mapping arenas.

This particular product/service has delivered a way for me to monetize my knowledge work in order to create a direct and indirect residual income.

The product is TheBrain: not only has it enabled me over the almost 20 years of use to become a more effective graphical knowledge mapper/manager; it has enabled me to work with my clients and colleagues with absolute clarity.

The efficacy of your knowledge work that encompasses your business models are essential. TheBrain slowly but surely became my virtual office, a place where I go to create relevancy, manage effectively and share (exchange and monetize) my knowledge frameworks.

TheBrain software/service has become integral to the ways I create and build my database of information and knowledge. It can indeed be the same for you.

If you care to investigate the power of this ever evolving product; you’ll more than likely discover the ways you can monetize your information and knowledge via the “Make Private” and packaging functions within TheBrain functions and capabilities.

The anonymous won’t be getting a more in depth answer here within this short post. I do however encourage that person, and anyone interested; to investigate TheBrain to discover via the process of learning; that monetizing their information and knowledge is relatively easy using TheBrain software and cloud services.

I would be glad to privately discuss this reality with you; that is if you identify yourself and begin meaningful dialogue.

Point of disclosure:
I have comp access to the mentioned product.
I do not sell nor have any commissions from the developer of the mentioned product.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

A note about moderating comments at this blog!

I'm happy to moderate and post your comments on one condition.

At least identify yourself for clarity of potential involvement.

Visual Mappers are unwitting Systems Thinkers; aren't they?

The Visual Mapper’s journey into systems thinking. Purposefully complicated yet shouldn’t be.

The first steps of many to the fulfillment of our goals are no doubt taken with trepidation. The apprehension associated with the steps, goals and paths we take on our journeys are somewhat predictable spaces or voids full of process and system potential.

The blank slate of your digital workspace is likened to that of the virgin canvas of the artist who looks into the void of the canvas and envisions what she desires to reveal.

This process of drawing out from that blank canvas is presently understood as a series of synaptic responses within our brain that culminate in actions. Some have posited it as an almost other worldly (non local) connectivity that’s ultimately revealed within the blank canvas. Currently I don’t tune into the other worldly posit.

I do however completely buy into the reality that we can take a blank digital computing workspace and create relevancy and meaning within a systematic framework. When I say systematically, I merely mean method.

We have tools, we have methods, we have visual representations of our intended communications. These individual elements come together (aggregate) into a whole that offers an emergence of thought, feeling and action. On their own they are merely elements; yes they do have their usefulness as independent elements, yet they are best expressed being aggregated into a wholistic representation.

Wholistic may be a reasonable term or definition to speak of regarding this aggregation.

Many of our notable Visual Mapping Knowledge Architect colleagues often speak of systematic thinking; and I understand the term and definition as it’s, for the most part; speaking of methodical or process oriented thinking. I’m big on process approaches too.

There are however very few of our colleagues who speak loudly and confidently in terms of Systems Thinking.

I’ve often wondered why: It’s a question that’s hard to answer as it’s analogous to getting blood out of a stone regarding experiencing dialogue under the systems thinking umbrella. From fellow visual mapping colleagues.

I’ve found though, there’s many within the visual mapping arena who’re not only systematic thinkers but are indeed systems thinkers who may have never realized they are or have simply never felt the need to declare or express they are.

The graphical mapping tools we use scream of system, yet we rarely speak of system or systems thinking in relation to the arenas we service and where our various expertise are expressed.

From QMS auditing, to inventory and production measures and process flows; we’re unwittingly involved within systems and interact and influence them too.

Taking into consideration we are unwitting systems thinkers who decline to express it too well; which is an oxymoron. IMO; we should be speaking of systems thinking more openly among our knowledge architect circles and learning from each other and also from the more formalized colleagues within the systems thinking arenas.

I chased my own tail like a dumb dog for a long time before I broke free from reliance upon a tool, and adopted a multiple formats approach expanding to the use of the Visual Mapping tool-box. And in doing so; I realized the progression from Mind mapping (single format) through to Visual mapping (multiple formats) was a progression of an understanding of system in itself.

Indeed the Visual mapping tool-box is encompassed (enveloped) within the systems thinking mind-set, and we knowledge architects who offer our services to clients for continuous improvement purposes should know this. But of course we do; don’t we?

If you haven’t already found these notable Systems Thinkers; I highly recommend them as a sound genesis and foundation of a complete understanding of System:
August Bradley
Gene Bellinger
Derek Cabrera

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.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Content has fooled us for way too long; hasn’t it?

Content has fooled us for way too long; hasn’t it?

The knowledge manager knows all about content. It’s the substance of meaning and the quality that gives purpose to what we wish to communicate.

As we choose a tool to create the framework for the content of our communications; it may be linear or even non-linear. The tools equip us to get the job of communicating the purpose and meaning of the growing content we use and exchange.

Taking a look at many of the works of fellow visual mappers; I’m rather verklempt, and not in a recoverable way when I see some of the overwhelming content of visual maps shared.

I hope I’m not alone as I say that; It’s an indictment against the arena that many create and publish a lot of extremely poor quality visual maps.

I want to be clear; This is an observation and not a judgment. The judgments come from those who look at published works and say; WTF can that do for me?

From the plate of spaghetti mind maps to the hashtag reference overload to the downright WTF mind/visual maps, I scratch my head in disbelieve and wonder if we (yes me too) have gotten our strategies all wrong for sharing and promoting the benefits of visual mapping.

A colleague of mine recently spoke of his continuing work using a mix of mind maps and info graphics with clients to get points across succinctly. He spoke to me of his success using a wall within a meeting or conference room to physically hand draw on the whole wall to create a story line of his clients system issues and potential solutions. I’ve even tried this and it actually works very well; the engagement success with participants works very well too and the information content sticks with all involved.

Of course we know this method is admittedly old school, wasteful of time and resources and harps back to the flip chart days that worked very well back in the day (that day being a long time ago). It actually got rather messy though; didn’t it?

Yet here we are in this part of the 21st century and many of us are using rather impressive technology relating to graphical mapping and expressiveness to continue to create messy WTF visual communications that have a load of content, yet lack something important.

I see this in particular with my favourite products from the overpopulated mind/visual maps via MindManager (and every other competitor) and the same deal applies to TheBrain and also the recent addition of Thortspace. There’s just a natural tendency for users (you and me) to cram a whole load of shit into our graphical structures that screams content yet lacks context.

So that important thing is CONTEXT. It does seem there’s a semantic misunderstanding for many when we speak of content and context. Just like in the QMS field, procedure and process are often misused and interchanged to mean one and the same thing.

We do come across many visual mappers who make pretty damn awesome yet huge (WTF) and extremely useful visual maps for us to view. They have a ton of content yet the map is so large that it becomes that plate of spaghetti and the context of the original quality and purpose of communications is lost along with any level of client/audience engagement.

Content may be king; yet the king is naked without being clothed in context.

Indeed there may exist much relevant content in our mapped communications and surprisingly even some useful context; we must however continually remind ourselves as to what gives content meaning by way of context.

Contextual extraction is key; yet from the get go we should really be practising good creation and management of content and adding context as we go.

To extract context would be awesome; yes there are tools out there that can take a written article and extract the relevant context for the user to analyze and choose what is relevant for further use.

The seminal work of Henry Lewkowicz and his Contextual Extraction tool can be found at Go take a look

I personally use my own T.A.P method for doing it right from the get go.

Regardless of how we add or extract context, we should really have good practices that build up from a good foundation that can take the stress of our further adding and building upon content.

Regarding the content we build; there’s a fine line between brilliance and stupidity relating to the outcomes of the work we do as knowledge architect. If at all we ignore the equally important function of context; we become like that king who may have much content yet is completely naked without context.

So the further misunderstanding or; complete understanding and willing ignorance of how information is aggregated data and that information is merely instructional at many levels; and that when context is added to information, we end up with relevant knowledge.

Much more to say of course; I’ve blithered enough and look forward to your feedback and comments. Fire away!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

What really annoys you about the graphical mapping arena?

What really annoys you about the graphical mapping arena?

I would suggest you read “annoys you” as (pisses you off).

I’ll use the nicer word of “ticks off”.

There’s a lot to like, even love about this exciting yet frustrating software development arena.

■    I love the fact that everyone keeps in touch and collaborates openly and freely.
■    I love the speed of development for all of my favourite products.
■    I love the developers because they listen to their users and keep in touch.

Now I want to be absolutely clear and state what I’ve just written above is absolute and utter bullshit. Yup; my loved up “I love” comments are indeed not true at all by any stretch of the imagination.

There is though a lot to just simply like about the arena.

■    There’s a plethora of software services to choose from.
■    They’re all, for the most part, rather good products. Very few are crap these days.
■    There’s a few who don’t pretend to listen to their users and actually engage with them.

You know the products for sure, you use some of them and they’ve become your go to products and services that make you the effective knowledge architect you’ve become.

They are indeed all pretty damn good products that (in reality) all do pretty much the same thing as their competitors. Emulating each others functions and capabilities seems to be the unashamed thing competitors do apparently these days. In reality there’s very little (That means there’s some) creativity and innovation coming from the developers at all.

That select few who actually listen to our BMW ranting (Bitching, Moaning, Whining)? You and I know who they are and have a good relationship with them. We say good things about their product and they in turn stick by us (yup that’s the game we play).

Software development is tough game to be involved in. Creating a product that has its beginnings as a thought process that seems to be grabbed from the so called ether; yet is actually a needed (read demanded) product brought forth in almost perfect timing and order.
I cite Thortspace and Goalscape as perfect examples of good timing and ordered development.

Some products are developed with the main purpose of engaging a user base and ultimately to be acquired by a larger developer or group of investors. There is a sense of disingenuousness about this process IMO; yet it’s completely understandable when developers who are people like you and I who get older and just must realize they need to experience some kind of well deserved payback for their good works. I say thank you to them too.

Equally some products are in it for the long haul; I have used both TheBrain and MindManager for donkeys years and am happy they have stayed true to their original calling of being the leaders in their fields and sticking around.

What ticks me off about this arena?
■    The lack of real, true and genuine group collaborations.
■    The unfortunate and challenging reality of ego based competitiveness
■    The wastefulness of many developers who’ve gained notoriety by blatant plagiarism

There’s more that ticks me of, annoys me and pisses me off about this arena; yet I am hopeful, being the eternal optimist that this arena may experience a coming together of tools, methods and mind-sets. Wouldn’t that be nice?

So; as Picard says, “Make it so”

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Mention the $$$ value of Visual Mapping and people magically listen

Mention the $$$ value of Visual Mapping and people magically listen.

Have you ever felt you’re just speaking into an echo chamber and hearing your own voice say blah, blah, blah? And if I’ve experienced this, then I’m sure you’ve experienced it too.

The visual mapping arena has rather awesome thought leaders within it, and those of whom I know personally have all experienced the phenomena of speaking knowledge mapping truths and no one is really interested or even listens.

That is until we mention “hey you can actually monetize your information and knowledge”.
Holy shit, the stampede begins right after you say that; doesn’t it?

We often speak of creating relevancy, managing effectively and exchanging at cost. Yup that word cost just gets them right off the bat. “Cost you say; how do I do that?” is the cry and it’s a loud cry.

We’ve certainly shared the tools, methods and mind-set of visual mapping over the years; haven’t we? And I would say for the most part it has been a great success; not only monetary success for us but in an academic/training way too.

The absolute joy of training someone to become a more effective information handler and knowledge manager via the tools we use, the methods we teach and the monetizing opportunities we share is priceless to both us and our customers.

As knowledge architects we build frameworks for our colleagues and clients that can be built upon and exponentially expanded upon too. At the base level we help people become more in control of the apparent maelstrom they get themselves into regarding personal, academic and business issues that often overwhelm them.

OMG I often think I should have officially studied psychology; as it’s clear at all levels of involvement within this arena, we seem to be pseudo psychologists who kind of baby sit our clients into a place of calm, clarity and control.

The skill-set of visual mapping does seem to be very prominent, in particular, within the personal development arena. I’ve come across many colleagues who are personal coaches and they all use a form of visual mapping from Mind Maps to Goalscapes, to flowcharts and also info graphics. So these colleagues are true visual mappers who use the ever expanding tool-box full of relevant graphical formats to create, manage and share (exchange) appropriate linear and non-linear information and knowledge.

The monetizing though, that gets many super interested.

I use two products that have allowed me to monetize much of my training work. They are Mindjet MindManager (I use a legacy version) and TheBrain.

MindManager is a behemoth of a graphical mapping product that has endured for many years and has evolved into possibly the only visual mapping information management and presentation tool you’ll ever need.

And then there’s TheBrain (Developed by The Brain Technologies), it’s a pretty damn awesome product that drives past any highly developed product I know of to date that is a true knowledge mapper.

Monetizing your information and knowledge using these two products?

MindManager has an HTML5 output that allows the user to package as much information, data and associated attachments into a visual map and then package it as the HTML file format. This is a rather good way of packaging content for sale to clients. Take a look at the product and discover what this output can do for your monetizing of your information.

TheBrain enables the user (subscription required) to sync what you create from desktop to device via a very secure cloud storage system. This allows you to create a Brain, load it with as much information and knowledge as you like. Sync it to the cloud, sign into the cloud version and choose to share by way of a customized link that you can also unshare too (total control).

I create information/knowledge packages using both MindManager and TheBrain methods for  clients. I sell them directly to clients via  the HTML5 output and equally I do the same using TheBrain method too via cloud.

At the time of this writing, I am continuing to use and abuse a very interesting product/service called Thortspace (TS). It has given me a new and different perspective on how we may create, manage and share information and knowledge that is complete;y free from the hierarchical approach of all other graphical knowledge mapping products. It's actually a brilliant and even genius product and approach and a further 3D type of approach to visualizing your graphical knowledge work. I look forward to seeing what TS becomes and am currently enjoying using it to discover how it may fit into my software portfolio for personal, academic and business work and models. I am hoping to discover how I may also monetize information and knowledge packages using TS. To date I am rather new to the product and may report back if and when I find a way to monetize and package.

I encourage you to investigate these three products.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The undermined Knowledge Manager

The undermined Knowledge Manager

The knowledge manager of this part of the 21st century is unfortunately undermined.
Maybe the word underappreciated is a better term.

The knowledge manager within any organization is that person who clearly understands the systematic flow of how Personal development, Academic (Training) enhancement and Business productivity are inextricably connected so as to be an expression of a system.

I use the term systematic as it defines more succinctly the relationship that exist between the three independent yet interdependent areas.        

The order of personal, academic and business are discretionary based on need; yet they are without a doubt interconnected.

The fact that we communicate within our chosen fields and environments of expertise allows us to view our challenges at a personal development approach of communications with ourselves and other with clarity.

Academic enhancement within our fields and environments also allows us to create, manage and share (publish) our training approaches more than likely making them understandable (universal and generic) for all levels of our environment.

And Business productivity is that area where we must be on the ball and have all the relevant information and knowledge to Define, Measure, Analyze, control and Publish to all relevant functions of our environment of production.

The knowledge manager: well it may be anyone within life, education or business at all levels. Yes we often come across those knowledge managers who just seem to get it, understand it; yet they keep it to themselves.

You see; Knowledge Management isn’t actually a position within any area. It’s an ability that some, not all, have tapped into. The more I meander through opportunities with colleagues, clients and other potentials; I invariably come across like minded thinkers a doers whom I may define as an undiscovered Knowledge Architect.

“The knowledge architect of this part of the 21st century is defined by their ability to completely understand the differences and advantages of both liner and non-linear knowledge frameworks and when it is appropriate to create, manage and share (present) specific formats with absolute clarity for effective knowledge communications”

 Yes the knowledge architect; often that person who’s a little off the wall, even weird, yet is the unsung hero within any environment who can tap into an ethereal type of understanding of systematic thinking and express it in ways that some of the most recognized gifted types in any environment seem to lack.

Of course the knowledge architect, that undermined knowledge manager keeps their gifts, for the most part, well hidden form scrutiny and exposure. We’ve often read that the most gifted individuals within any environment are those who can communicate with clarity to a degree that business especially pays top dollar for.

From the cleaner to the mail sorter, and of course to you and me; the most gifted are the most unexpected epiphanies hidden in plain sight.

Regardless of format (linear or non-linear); the predominant communication trait of the knowledge architect is a graphical format. And Mind mapping seems to be the most prominent form of visual expression.

They have accumulated many tools within a tool-box of visual mapping products that are both linear and non-linear, and regardless of tool chosen; they use them extremely effectively to create, manage and present information and knowledge.

I firmly believe this knowledge architect is a skilled person who’s skill-set should be tapped into, realized and recognized as a certified skill that would enhance and exponentially expand the opportunities of all who would dare be registered and certified as a knowledge architect.

Pie in the sky maybe; yet the graphical mapping arena has wasted much time in products that are pretty damn awesome yet have become personal toys to many and have unfortunately missed out on being a mainstream recognized knowledge management tool rather and have become an outlier.

It would indeed be rather interesting to debate and discuss the potential for a recognition process for the knowledge manager who wishes to have a registered badge of certification recognition.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

I so admire hand drawn mind maps

I so admire hand drawn mind maps

The late great Mr.Tony Buzan:
Taken from us in unfortunate circumstances and the void that was left; well I hope it has been filled with capable people and leaders that preserve his legacy.

I do so admire hand drawn mind maps; as they shout out loud as to the individuality that’s pumped into them by the authors.

I’ve never actually been a Buzan mind mapper though. Yes I’ve hand drawn; I may even be honest and say my mind maps have never echoed any form of the Buzan rules for mapping. I. guess the closest I got to drawing Buzan type maps was the radiant format.

Yet I admire hand drawn mind maps (yeah I’ve said that three times now).
They have an artistic flair and are extremely pleasing to the eye and also have distinct synaptic form that’s hypnotizing.

I was showcasing a knowledge mapping product to a few folk some time ago and in the process of presenting the functions and capabilities of the product that was to be a door opener for a knowledge management opportunity; the damn product crashed and the cloud failed me; again!

Now; in any regular situation, the ordinary person among us (who is really ordinary eh) would just have some form of a tizzy, or as we really call it; breakdown.

Yes I panicked and felt really let down by my favourite knowledge mapping tool. Yet I pressed the metaphorical pause button and thought “hey I know how to hand draw mind maps”.
So I simply walked over the standard whiteboard and started to draw a mind map of the subject I was intending to speak of.

My ugly hand drawn min maps worked and engaged my audience fairly well. A few mentioned they were really impressed as to my composure ( what; I didn’t show may panic?)as my software crashed and could have made me look like and feel like a blithering idiot. That got me thinking.

In this part of the 21st century, we’re basically hypnotized by technology aren’t we? Hand held devices of all shapes and sizes, the cell phones that have become true computing devices and the cloud (when it’s stable) becomes our virtual office.

Yet when everything goes to hell in a hand basket; the hand drawn mind map comes to the rescue. After my experience, I decided to become a more effective hand drawing mind mapping communicator. No I didn’t draw stick men or add silly quotes, song lines or poetic gibberish; I simply revisited my particular form of hand drawn mind mapping and improved upon the graphical layout.

I did though take a second look at what Mr. Buzan insisted was a real mind map and not as he often said “a proto mind map”. Oh yes I was a proto min mapper no doubt about that.

In the process of investigating the Buzan method further, I re-engaged with hand drawn mind mapping to a degree to which I now advise many who are interested in becoming more effective knowledge managers to consider a course in hand drawn Buzan mind mapping first before they proceed to relying upon software and services.

It saved the day for me when I needed it, and I often, in my spare time create artistic mind maps that seem to take me to a place of relaxation and almost a meditative state.

It is IMO very a worthwhile endeavour to acquaint yourself with the Buzan methodology and mind set; you won’t regret it and you may even discover that it may save your presentation ass too at some point. So yes hand draw, and do it your own particular or peculiar way; but I would most certainly advise anyone to go straight to a Buzan mapper for instruction and leading.

Than you Mr. Buzan for your wonderful gift of hand drawn mind maps.

Some just don’t ever break free from the basics do they?

Some just don’t ever break free from the basics do they?

Some of our friends and colleagues whom we’ve introduced to the tools, methods and mind set of mid mapping at the basic level and through to graphical knowledge mapping at the intellectual extreme; well they frustrate the friggin hell outa me at times.

The basics of anything is a natural process though; isn’t it? And as much as their discovery of a new tool, and that deer in the headlights look many of us have when we see it for the first time; unbelievable as it is, many simply don’t break free of the basics at all.

I recall my first dip into the mind mapping pool, donkeys years ago; it was quite the experience and I had to get my water wings on (remember those?).

The genesis; that beginning to our journey in and through and without a doubt becomes a maelstrom we must learn to navigate regarding tools, methods and the melding of mind sets.

Many we introduce; some (very few) become experts, even thought leaders, and many are stuck like the needle of a record player in a groove of their own making. That groove seems to be their comfort zone of repetitively reworking their maps to make them look even prettier. And the maps?; OMG they are an expression of how much they may have misunderstood how to use their tools and the potentials for getting past information and moving into knowledge mapping/management.

As I write this blithering article I am scanning some of our colleagues who publish mind maps. BTW I use the term mindmap as it’s a convenient term that is a mistaken yet mainstream understanding of an expression of graphical mapping (yes it’s an SEO curse). 

Some mind maps are damn impressive information overviews; yet most are like a plate of frigging spaghetti.

I really don’t get it regarding why some who obviously have the ability to understand aggregated data and to make it into a mind mapped graphical expression, only to lose the intention of clarity by presenting a plate of spaghetti to you, me and the world is a challenge to the intellect.

The number of WTF moments and sighs of “shit here we go again with the charts stuff” when I hear and see audience reactions to one of those plates. There’s even a place where you can join and share the hell out of your information overviews. I left that nonsense approach some time ago.

I get; the need for some of our colleagues to be loved within the pseudo arena of mind mapping and to be recognized as some kind of expert, guru and even thought leader within the mind mapping arena (not a real one btw).

But the continual repeat, repeat of formats and overcrowded mind maps that defy an understanding that enables a user to get past mere information overviews and into the knowledge management area (a real arena btw) is just bereft of meaning to me.

BTW; This phenomena of creating overwhelming, confusing and contradictory graphical expressions isn’t in reality a newbie thing at all. We have some of our seasoned visual mapping colleagues who use multiple formats of graphical expressions; and the overwhelming, confusing and contradictory presentations come from them too. I’ve even made up a few WTF maps.

So getting past the newbie phase is one challenge; yet the bigger challenge is to progress and navigate beyond the maelstrom of newbieizm (I know it’s not real word). That further challenge of a tendency of presenting overwhelming overviews that just, well; overwhelm. It is a conundrum to be solved.

Have you also experienced this phenomena of perpetual newbieizm that is seen in so much of the work of those we’ve introduced the tools, methods and mind set of mind/visual mapping to?

Have you assisted your well meaning colleagues to break free of that maelstrom of basicizm (yup another unreal word)?

It is a riddle (conundrum) to be solved; yet it is interesting in a psychological sense to understand and study why you, me and everyone else either continue to do this or used to, and have broken free of this practice.

I look forward to your particular take and experiences.

Feel free to blither and if you’re as good at blithering as me; it may be even be interesting.

Friday, July 3, 2020

The graphical knowledge mapping arena is kinda boring

The graphical knowledge mapping arena is kinda boring

Well it was; that is until Thortspace arrived.
Now from this point on I’m going to use TS, as I always seem to misspell Thortspace and insult the developer and seasoned users. I’m really good at insulting anyway, even gifted lol.

 TS; well I define it as knowledge architects dream, yet conversely it may be your nightmare to get to know how to use and abuse it. In my case a willing nightmare.

The dream is that its arrived like prophet preaching salvation to those of us who’ve been trapped in very good, even awesome knowledge management tools that have themselves been trapped in the hierarchical frameworks they cleave to. Hierarchies may become extinct to the knowledge handler of this part of the 21st century. They have their uses for linear processes; yet TS handles that too in a very quirky way.

TS is a complete break from hierarchy.
I am a long time user of TheBrain; it’s integral to my business portfolio of software that enables me to flippantly call myself a Knowledge Architect. Yet the hierarchical structure just kills my expectations for furthering the knowledge management arena.

A note regarding any comparisons between TheBrain and Thortspace:
There aren’t any notable comparisons I can note that are worthy of comparing like for like at this time. Both products are unique. TheBrain is hierarchical and associative and Thortspace is completely free of Hierarchy. They don’t currently compete with each other; yet I believe they will vie for a common user group soon enough. If a user wants to break free from Hierarchy Thortspace is the thing; end of!

TS has indeed been a light at the end of the tunnel for my knowledge mapping/management needs. I am a serious knowledge manager who needs a serious knowledge mapping tool that allows me freedom to toggle between linear and non-linear views. The Think and Do views of TS do just that for me.

Is it perfect? Hell no; there’s much more development required for it be perceived as The knowledge managers tool of choice. But what TS does have is a sound foundation in a format that enables a true sense of where graphical knowledge mapping/management is heading and what it can and shall achieve.

Thortspace is going places and it’s going to get known more in the mainstream pretty damn fast. The user base is growing exponentially and the feedback I’m getting is that corporate is having a more than curious look at it too.

Oh I mentioned the nightmare of getting to know and abuse TS. To date; I’m way past the beginners stage of frustrating functions, capabilities and behaviours of the TS product/service. It’s been a journey of journeys getting to know the product as I tend to (like many of you) make judgments and assumptions of a product based on what I already use in my mainstream.

Getting past the beginners stages of TS is such a relief. It’s at that point when your baptism of fire is over that you may see the real usage of TS. It’s a rather good product with interesting functions and capabilities, even brilliant and genius. I’ve had a few epiphanies already to date regarding what I may use TS for, even some colleagues and clients have requested I show them what it is capable of. I’m going to leave the showcasing to the folks at TS; they’ll do a better job than me at my stage of newbie use of the product/service to date.

I won’t go into any of the functions and capabilities here; I’m hoping Phil Shepherd (Founding Director at TS) or a developer colleague at Thortspace will have the time to contribute a meaningful article that would overview what TS is all about and what it can do for you as an established or seasoned knowledge handler/manager.

Here’s a public TS sphere of their story:

Thortspace can be found at:

Why has mind mapping faded to grey?

Mind mapping;
It had such potential regarding becoming a mainstream tool for creating, managing and the exchanging of information and knowledge.

The SEO has been abused to hell by product developers who’ve created yet more clones of products they’ve either admired or simply plagiarized. So there’s a plethora of products on the market, and there’s more being developed as I write for sure.

Some have come and gone; those that have endured are the products that have gained some kind of notoriety merely by way of their user base exposing the product.

Users can and have been abused though. For a developer to abandon a global desktop favorite in order to drag their old users into a cloud based system is almost criminal; isn’t it?

The failure of product isn’t down to what’s the best or worst product; it’s user based.  Remember the Betamax versus VHS debacle? Yup Betamax was far superior to VHS but politics and corporate shenanigans along with the user base of VHS won the day. Of course this exposes my generation and age eh lol.

The analogy though applies today for sure when we speak of the mind mapping product out there. Some are simply genius and some are, well; absolute and utter crap.

Unfortunately the untimely passing of the great late Tony Buzan revealed an abject disrespect for the man and his mind mapping legacy.

The mind mapping arena; that mom and pop cottage industry that gave birth to the software mind mapping arena goes back a long way. There was a few rather good products back in the day; I used a few of them. The genesis of what became MindManager (Mindman) developed by the Jetter’s has endured and become a corporate behemoth. However in the process it lost the stage of being the peoples mind mapping product to other products that stayed true to a more organic Mind mapping experience.

I would say Xmind has become the peoples modern Mind/Visual mapping product due its price point for regular everyday folk. The fork in the road was when the Jetter’s left Mindjet to pursue other altruistic ventures. Since then Mindjet grew, went through struggles and then was obtained by Corel.

Mind mapping fading to grey?

Unfortunately mind mapping has become passe to many. The term mind map doesn’t do much for the modern information manager at all. When we have other competing products that really don’t rely solely on non linear radiant formats and rely on desktop to cloud to device apps that are so well designed, the user really doesn’t need to view their information in a mid map at all.

This is certainly where the mind mapping developers have dropped the ball. They actually believe their product matters to the common man who has moved on and the mind mapping developers are stuck in their mind mapping parallel universe.

Sounds oh so ominous and depressing doesn’t it? But it’s reality; mind maps on their own just don’t cut it any longer. The developers managed to grab some inspiration from their users who demanded more formats such as flowcharts, concept maps, timelines and other graphical outputs.

The dovetailing output to Office formats and project management was rather good too

Of course we have such products as Notion, Roam Research and Obsidian now that have basically offered their users a linear approach that just works for the busy person of this part of the 21st century.

Maybe the salvation of the mind mapping products is to take a look at some kind of collaboration with or to these linear products.

All conjecture of course and we could ramble on about it to no avail.

The developers are notorious for not acknowledging their user base opinions or suggestions for product improvement. And when there is a decent improvement proposal made, the user suggestion is met with the usual “That’s a great idea, we have that in our road map”.

Makes you want to tell them to F***off eh?

Fading to grey? Yes it has over the years; yet maybe a resurgence may be heading our way in the guise of some interesting desktop and cloud products that may impress a new generation of graphical knowledge mappers/managers.

Well I sure hope so.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

knowledge management loses its mojo sometimes

Strong and abusive language warning for sensitive girly man types.

Of late; it's been a roller coaster journey for me regarding my use and abuse of social media. It certainly hasn't been easy and the roller coaster ride I speak of hasn't been the amusement park type.

It's been a rough couple of months for sure; at times I've thought about throwing the fucking towel in altogether. And being the quintessential Glaswegian who never gives in and never surrenders; I thought to myself "Fuck social media and fuck those who use it for nefarious agendas, I'm going to do my thing anyway".

Well my thing is knowledge mapping/management and I classify myself as being rather successful over the past 30 years of heavy duty involvement within the mind mapping arena and also the graphical knowledge management arena.

We graphical mappers are a really fucked up group in reality. How so?
Well we are individuals who for the most part are strong willed and we don't work well with other visual mappers at all. The competitiveness of our arena has made us loners who rarely collaborate with so called fellow knowledge architects and have become weary of our competing colleagues who tend to become agent provocateurs to our quest for stability and success.

The further reasons are numerous of course and if you are one of my close knowledge architect friends with whom I have worked very well with (yes we can accomplish it sometimes); you'll know exactly the gist of the "We don't work well with others" thing. And if you're in denial; well I don't know what the fuck to say that would jolt a doze of reality into your denying mindset. It's not all roses and bubblegum in our arena at all.

Our knowledge management mojo gets lost sometimes; not only lost it needs Indiana Jones to find it, as it becomes a quest for the Holy Grail at times to find it again.

When it gets lost, it's a struggle; a trapped down a deep hole with apparently no way out.

Yet there is indeed a way out. And that way is metaphorical of course, just like that deep hole.

The genuine colleagues within the knowledge management arena are so astute so as to see your slide down that hole. They recognize the disaster that may be pending for you and they reach out to you. They reach down that hole and you see a hand, and there’s a voice; it speaks loudly “Hey grab my hand, I’ll lift you out”.

Metaphors speak volumes eh. Our colleagues, those of whom we’ve worked well with in the past, well they’re the one’s who reach out and lift you. The others who previously took from you and ran like the fucking wind away from you when they fucked you over; (those agent provocateurs)  they are nowhere to be seen.

So; I am thankful that there have been some within our arenas who have been so genuine, so as to even deliver that proverbial Spiritual experience to us when we needed it.
There are times when you reach a point where you may even find calmness in the maelstrom of your mojo missing escapade, and you find that spark of motivation that seems to come from outside of our consciousness, finding that mojo that’s in reality simply hiding from us.

You see; our mojo never gets lost, it gets misplaced and often becomes tainted with the plethora of ideologies associated with our almost spiritual quest for temporal perfection.

Stay true to yourself, your values, beliefs, thoughts and actions.

It’s your system of success; make it even more successful.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Define thyself

For many years I’ve classified myself as a Visual Mapper.
And for those who use their personal definition of visual mapping arbitrarily, here’s one definition of many.

“Visual Mapping is a multiple formats approach to graphical thinking, expressing and doing”. 

This is further defined by The founder of Mindsystems John England; "Multiple modes of information expressed within a flexible workspace"

Visual mapping is expressed within a knowledge management tool-box, an ever growing one, that’s full of graphical and non graphical tools that enable the user to reach in and grab a tool that works for their specific need to create, manage and express their information and knowledge.
So in reality; the Visual Mapping tag may becoming rather tired as the term and definition of Visual Mapping has morphed and merged into the arena of Knowledge Management.

Yes we give tags to ourselves and the things we do for sure. Yet it’s natural to tag ourselves and in order to play the SEO game and to network ourselves as a product or service that attracts like minds, colleagues and prospective clients.
Over the years I’ve been loyal to a few tools that have consistently provided me with the visual mapping means to create, manage and share information and knowledge within a graphical framework.

The graphical frameworks have ranged from Flowcharts to info graphics to concept and mind maps. I term all of these graphical tools as Visual Mapping.

There is however an apparent conundrum that has raised its head recently for me regarding the relationship between Visual Mapping and Knowledge Management.

Do we really need to look at a graphical format that tends to be non-linear?
It is a good question isn’t it?

And the straight answer is no! I love to use graphical outputs, but again the answer is No!

Information and knowledge management are linked by the content information contains and the context knowledge enables. And it certainly doesn’t need to be expressed as a non-linear graphical framework at all. Weird coming from me eh; the quintessential visual mapper.

The thing is; the graphical frameworks we view within examples of mind maps and associated outputs such as TheBrain and a recent and brilliant product named Thortspace ( I call it TS as I spell it wrong all the time) seems to be how the brain functions.

TheBrain software/service and Thortspace software/service:

TheBrain software has been around for 20+ years and has developed into a polished professional product service. The developer of TheBrain; The Brain Technologies, has corporate backing and use.
The Brain is a systematic graphical framework of hierarchical and associative knowledge mapping and management functions and capabilities.

Thortspace software is a relatively new product/service on the market and at the time of this article it remains to be in a beta cycle (although it's been around for some years actually as a beta product). Thortspace has a unique way of allowing the user to escape from hierarchical structures yet also enabling a linear view to spheres of content that contain the potential for extreme knowledge mapping/management.

Both TheBrain and TS are completely different approaches and therefore don’t currently compete in the same knowledge handling/management spaces. Yet I believe they may compete for the same or similar users in the near future.

The conundrum is though; we know our human brain works abstractly and it may be useful to view and work abstractly using a non-linear framework; but we actually require access to linear models too. Whole brain thinking is a thing and wholistic may best define it.

Many of our colleagues who are software developers of the vast range of awesome visual mapping products currently available; well they tend to IMO (with good intentions), laser focus in on a their specific graphical format to (in reality) the detriment of using the equally valuable linear view of information and knowledge too.

Balance though is key. Linear and non-linear are equal IMO and should be treated as equally valuable to the mapping/management of information and knowledge.

Another reality check to the developers of these awesome Visual Mapping products and services? Whilst they have certainly perfected their products; they’ve kind of been willingly forgetful as to other notable products and services that have evolved into the mainstream as knowledge handlers and managers too. These products are predominantly linear by default and relational database by nature of their design from the get go.

I personally use Notion, and have transitioned much of the work I stored within the graphical framework of TheBrain into Notion; that is until TheBrain develops to a stage that enables similar functions and capabilities of mentioned products. The other notable linear products that compete with Notion?; they are Roam Research and a relatively new product called Obsidian. Notion IMO is the most developed and supported of these linear products. As of March 2021; the amendment made to this article must of course add the rather amazing ClickUp to the tool-box of knowledge management products of note.

I use a few products I’ve been given access to for graphical mapping of information and knowledge. There’s a plethora of products on the market and many of them are (to be frank) absolutely crap. There’s a few that stand out as well developed, supported and capable products. But then again, out of the few that are damn awesome; they have all seemed to copy the hell out of each other regarding functions and capabilities.

I would say the most plagiarized product in the visual mapping arena has been and continues to be MindManager. It’s the most capable graphical knowledge mapping product on the market; End of!

Although I use and abuse a few products; I’ve filtered them down to two (2) that are integral to my knowledge mapping. They are TheBrain and MindManager.
There are a few other MindManager type products but they are unfortunately sorely lagging behind the behemoth that Mindjet MindManager has become.

Here I’ll put a word in for a few products that supplement my main products and that have functions and capabilities that are surprisingly missing in MindManager.
These products are SimTech MindMapper, Conceptdraw Office, Xmind and Goalscape.

Defining thyself though; as you know, I define myself as a Visual mapper yet more so a Knowledge Architect. The knowledge architect defines knowledge processes and identifies the technology requirements for creating, capturing, organizing, accessing and using knowledge assets.

How do you define yourself in relation to information and knowledge work?