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Copy of Exhibit A: Mind Mapping Software
Transcript of Copy of Exhibit A: Mind Mapping Software
Coms 340, New Media
Due Thurs Dec. 1, 2011 Part I Part II Conclusion “the message of any medium or technology is the change in scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs.” - Marshall McLuhan A day in the life of the average student involves managing what feels like an unceasing flow of information. A list of important history dates, a heap of formulas, project deadlines, a stack of coursepack readings from the beginning of the semester -- It can be overwhelming to take it in and connect it all. Mind maps are one technique favored by students to organize all of the information. Mind maps are visual maps of ideas that take a central idea and then span out from the idea in a circular shape using key words, colours and pictures. Mind maps are now available as a software tool that enhances the technique as digitization allows users to attach web links, notes, Word documents and more. Introduction My artefact:
iMindMap5 software A Method Misplaced
by Manufacture and by Market This essay aims to analyze the cultural change that iMindMap5 has brought about through the critical lens of COMS 340 course readings and themes. I first examine the mind mapping software in its potential as as mind empowering tool. I then compare the software to underlying power structures of programming difficulties, and its relationship with the online economy. Writing in Post-War America, Vannevar Bush called for a reorientation of scientific research and innovation towards the use of technology to extend human mental capacities instead of physical powers. In his article As We May Think, Bush argued that the publication of information had been extended beyond the ability to make proper use of it all, which lead to the loss of significant information in the mass of the inconsequential.
He postulated that the artificiality of indexing systems was the underlying problem (Bush, 30). Bush believed that the problem of information overload was not being managed properly, and that man should learn from mental process to manage information. In the 1970s, Tony Buzan, a mathematician, psychologist and brain researcher developed mind mapping, a visual representation of the thought process aimed at breaking down information, making it as brief as possible while at the same time being interesting to the eye (Balafoutis, 55). The technique took into account that the two halves of the human brain perform different tasks. While the left side is mainly responsible for logic, words, and analysis, the right side of the brain performs tasks like imagination, emotion, and color (Balafoutis, 56). Buzan came up with mind mapping, a method that engaged both sides of the brain, letting the two work together to increase productivity and memory retention (Balafoutis, 56). In a fast paced world of information overload, Buzan's method provides a tool to organize and analyze information that is aligned with Bush’s need to learn from the human minds to improve information processing. Bush hypothesized that indexing information differently would allow the brain to be freed from engaging in repetitive tasks of searching and allow it to perform the creative aspects of thinking (Bush, 28). Bush proposed the Memex, a mechanized private file library to store all books, records and communications (Bush, 28). Linkages between documents would allow them to be brought rapidly to the screen and would exceed the brain because of the permanence and clarity of the items brought forth from storage. The machine would act as a supplement to the human memory as it would make useful trails through the enormous mass of common record (Bush, 28). iMindMap software can be likened to Bush’s Memex as it provides endless virtual page space with which a user can record ideas and spread thoughts. Not only that, but iMindMap allows the user to attach links to direct the user to a website, or to another document or picture on the computer’s hard drive. This technology makes use of the infinite computer storage that Bush envisioned, as well as his concept of linkages. These features are desirable in mind map software because they are a supplement to a person’s memory. iMind Map features endless page space, and allows users to attach internet links, and links to documents and pictures on the computer's hard drive. Inspired by As We May Think, Ted Nelson was also convinced that emerging information technologies could extend the power of the human memory (Nelson, 155). In Computer Lib/Dream Machines, published in 1974, Nelson began his quest to build creative tools that would change the way that we read and write. He attributed ordinary writing sequences as contributors to the ‘dis-augmentation of intellect’ (Nelson, 162). Ordinary writing he argued, grew out of the consecutive patterns of speech leading to constant difficulty as we struggle to tie ideas together sequentially in our own work (Nelson, 159). Nelson pitched the idea of ‘hypertexts,’ non-sequential writing that would allow readers to aggregate meaning in snippets, jump around, and try different pathways to read according to his or her own choosing (Nelson, 160). Ted Nelson The mind map writing structure fits Nelson’s concept of non-sequential writing. Mind maps all begin with a central image; they branch out organically; and utilize color, images, codes, symbols, and keywords to convey information (Goldberg 22). Ideas are not numbered, and the reader can read ideas in the sequence of their choosing. Information in a mind map is not sequential. This, Nelson said, would allow people to read and write better. The author pointed out that some authors had unsuccessfully tried to break from sequential writing by using a ‘choose your own adventure’ technique (Nelson, 159). He believed that they failed because their attempts were confined to paper, and that recent technology had reached unprecedented progress. To him, new capacities of digital storage and screen display meant that we no longer have to have things in sequence. The iMindMap5 software escapes from the structure and constraints of the piece of paper and harnesses and extends technical possibility the way that Nelson envisioned it. One way it does this is by the endless virtual page space to spread your thoughts and information. The software is not only compatible with desktop computers, but extends to the iPhone, and iPad allowing users to create mind maps with the tap of a finger. iMindMap Moblie HD urges the reader to ‘Shake off old fashioned restrictive methods of capturing ideas – the future is about travelling light." http://www.thinkbuzan.com/uk/product/imindmap/ipad Nelson believed that technology would allow humans to read everything from a screen and write everything at a screen, and iMindMap5 mobile and tablet applications each realizes Nelson’s wish for technology to be synched to one place. Like Bush, Nelson also had optimistic expectations of how technology could extend the mind and empower humans. But, their predictions occurred in the 50s and 70s, before technology had taken off in the way it has today.
I will now present a critical analysis of contemporary technology and how structures at the micro level of software interface, and at the macro level of the online economy work to prevent technology users from holding power. In It Looks Like You’re Writing A Letter: Microsoft Word, Matthew Fuller considers the limitations of software design and production. He looks at the medium with a critical lens and reviews how software not only structures our writing, but also writes us and our cultural history (Mitchell, Oct 13/11). One area that Fuller draws critical attention to is the ‘enunciative framework’ of software (Mitchell, Oct 13/11). Software is not a neutral tool that works only to extend our capabilities like Bush and Nelson overlook. Software has a framework underlying the grammar of the program that guides users to conform to expected uses (Fuller, 147). Spelling and Grammar tools are an example of interface conflict that a user experiences. The program dictates a certain way to use language with the Auto Correct tool tracking language use by default. Auto Correct incorporates the dictionary and thesaurus into every grain of text, indicating its version of right and wrong with red and green lines (Fuller, 158). Every possible utterance becomes a combination on look up table results (Fuller, 158). iMindMap5 boasts a full word processor beside the mind map function that allows you to create highly formatted text (Balafoutis,60). Its Spell Check has clear limitations, as its dictionary does not even recognize its own name, iMindMap5 as a correctly spelled word. Dosen't even recognize it's own name? The Spell Check tool unable to recognize the name of its own progrm its own indicates a scary rigidification of language to the point that it becomes solely data (Fuller, 158). A common criticism of digital media is that it compresses time on order for more work to be extricated from the user (Fuller, 153). This happens as the number of functions in a program increase, the menu bar is lengthened, the depth of choice trees increases, and the tools themselves become more complex making the program time consuming to use (Fuller, 153). I downloaded two different mind map programs to play around with when researching for this essay. I found MindNode sold in the Apple App store a very simple and intuitive program. On the other hand, after 10 frustrating minutes of trying to build a basic mind map with iMindMap5, I had to watch this video, How to Use iMindMap5 in Under 2 Minutes (which was about all the patience I had left). Complicated and excessive software tools are not a desirable feature in software as these information processing programs are meant to free writing from the control of the eye and of consciousness to actually allow us to get on with things more quickly (Fuller, 154). MindNode So, what cultural change did mind-mapping software bring about? To Bush and Nelson mind mapping software could be empowering. Mind mapping software is useful because it acknowledges how the human mind works and is built on the principal of engaging both sides of the brain to improve memory. It is also an interactive form of learning that allows readers to aggregate meaning in the order of his or her choosing due to the nonsequential nature of the braches. The new age of technology allows us to make use of computer storage and screen display that kept others who from writing in this structure before. We no longer have to do things in a sequence, as mind-mapping software allows us to write directly on the screen (in the case of iMindMap for iPad). It can also be used for the infinite storage and linkages that surpass the brain in performance and clarity.
Vannevar Bush. “As We May Think”. The Atlantic. July, 1945.
C. Goldberg (2004). "Brain Friendly Techniques: Mind Mapping". [Feature ABI: Y FTI: Y; P]. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 21(3), 22-24.
Matthew Fuller (2003). “It Looks Like You’re Writing a Letter” from Behind the Blip: Essays on the Culture of Software. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 137-165.
Nelson, Ted. “Computer Lib / Dream Machines, (1974).” Multimedia—from Wagner to Virtual Reality, eds. Randall Packer and Ken Jordan, New York: Norton, 2001, 154-166.
A.A Tsinakos and T. Balafoutis (2009). "A comparative survey on mind mapping tools." Turk. Online J. Distance Educ. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education 10(3): 55-67.
Ltd, T. (2011). ThinkBuzan.com: The Inventors of Mind Mapping. thinkbuzan.com.