Can a map style encourage participation?

Filed Under Mindjet


March 27, 2006

In the blog post that I made on Friday, quite a few people requested the architectural typeface that I created.  One person, J. Strimiki made a great observation, which makes sense:

"The font invites participation." 

When I was in architecture school at the University of Arizona, we learned a graphical style of "loose" drawing during the iterative design phase of a project that gave the impression that the design was not final.  It consisted of techniques that are meant to stimulate creativity and encourage iteration.  Mike Lin gives a great workshop on this.  Well, here are the obvious questions to our MindManager users out there:

  1. Can a map style, not only a typeface, encourage participation?
  2. Do you have map styles that you use when you want to have a dialog around a map? 
  3. If so, what are the components of that style?

When I was in architecture school (1988-1993) there was also an ongoing debate of whether Computer Aided Design (CAD) made first draft designs look too much like final products.  Many people who learned architecture with pencils and paper, like myself, saw that as the case.  There were even very successful software applications that gave hard-edge CAD drawings and renderings a hand-drawn look.  We can easily see the parallels here to today’s office software with PowerPoint, Visio, OneNote, and MindManager. PowerPoint and Visio show very polished result better suited for presentations and lectures.  On the other hand, OneNote and MindManager can support the loose sketching needed for an iterative, participative design process, that implies "work in progress".  Among these applications, only MindManager works well as a presentation and particative design tool.  I’d love to hear your thougts on this.

6 Responses to “Can a map style encourage participation?”

  1. Neil Hinrichsen

    This is slightly off-post, but I’m wondering if there is any way to toggle OFF the anti-aliasing on text in MindManager? Because the text appears very blurry on my Dell laptop, and gives me terrific eyestrain. Enlarging the map gives some relief, but them I can only see a small part of the map on the screen which is very frustrating.

    I’ve gone back to using FreeMind for most of my maps, because the text is by default not anti-aliased and is crystal clear.

  2. Rick Blaiklock

    This is a good point. Over the years I’ve made the observation of the reluctance of some people to make changes once it’s ‘in print’. While this has diminished over time as people’s cognitive models of how to use visual tools have changed, when you come right down to it, appearance matters and is tightly linked to perception. We have lots of different fonts for a reason!

    One application that handles this well is called SketchUp (they were just bought by Google). SkecthUp, while not a strict CAD program has a mode where lines can be made to look like pencil sketch marks and hence suggest this is an artist’s rendering and open to suggestions as opposed to a final product.

    As the previous poster has mentioned, dialogue is a big part of mind mapping and the visual metaphors used to capture that dialogue need to reflect its ‘state’ in the process from initial or rough idea through to completion (if it ever gets there).

  3. Andy

    The visual style of mind mapping is especially supporting and stimulating collaboration in group work. If a member of a group brings in a new, different aspect it can be taken up as new branch and the discussion can continue on the already outlined branches without frustrating the person bringing in a new aspect. The method of mind mapping allows teams to come up with a more complete solution than traditional linear methods. I made this experience in a lot of work shops. Starting with the subject in focus in the middle is suggesting openess and allows the moderator of the discussion to take up the contribution of the different team members without prioretization. In that sense I fully belief that mind mapping facilitates the dialog.

  4. Carlos Latorre

    I agree with your coment about how this font gives a sense of “ongoing” work. This is a subtle psychological aspect where I fully agree, and certainly brings a bubble of fresh air to the screen, where everything is “perfect” as per fonts, alignment, shades, etc. The “loose” aspect in general brings a more emotional sense, closer to human beings. This matches very well with the current trends to look for emotional aspects, verbal communication, soft factors, right brain, etc.


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