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Category: Lit Review: Mind/Concept/etc. Mapping

Origins of the Dynamic View in Author

In Doug Engelbart’s demo he showed the power of having different views on the same information, such as when he viewed his shopping list by various criteria and then changed the view to a map:

I am not sure if I had seen that when I designed a concept for being able to drag text around on the desktop in the mid-90s which I called the System Wide Scratch Area but the idea of putting things out on a space to work on the relationships seems pretty self-evident. We do it as children and my father did it with his documents in his pre-digital workflow.


Joseph Novak, who has of course been invited to the Future of Text Book, formalised concept mapping and Tony Buzan was inspired by this and developed mind mapping. In the 1940s Alex Faickney Osborn introduced brainstorming. Thinking on a surface either with marks straight not he surface or using some kind of cards goes back a long time, at least to Carl Linnaeus during the 1700s.


What I am investigating though is the ‘magic’ of digital representations above the flexibility of thoughts on cards, but there is still a lot to be learnt from cards, at least until we have digital desk sized desktops.


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KJ-Ho is a method invented by the  Japanese ethnologist, Jiro Kawakita, developed as a result of having difficulties in interpreting ethnographic data in Nepal (Scupin, 1997).


 In Japan, by far the most popular creative problem-solving methodology using creative thinking is the KJ Ho method. This method puts unstructured information on a subject matter of interest into order through alternating divergent and convergent thinking steps.

Susumu Kunifuji, 2013

Jiro explained the process in his  paper (Kawakita, 1991), in which the relevant aspect for Liquid View is the visual problem solving method, the basic steps of which are:

• Label Making is the process of writing down everything relevant on index cards.
• Label Grouping is the process of grouping the cards according to relevancy.
• Group Naming to name the groups of cards.
• Spatial Arrangement to arrange the Groups into useful arrangements.
• Relationship Settings to use links to indicate the relationships between the objects/nodes, where the shapes of the links convey the nature of the relationship:
  – Cause and effect: One is a predecessor or a cause of another   ––>
  – Interdependence: Objects are dependent on each other    <––>
  – Correlation: Both objects relate to one another in some way   ––
  – Contradiction: Objects are conflicting to each other   >––<
• Verbal or written explanation. The last step is to explain the chart clearly which other visual thinking systems neglect


Relevance to Liquid View

This system has quite a rigorous process behind it, which is not something which would naturally fit with the Liquid View but the general process is very much what was planned for Liquid View. Giving arrow designs meaning is interesting and I think a way to teach the user what the different designs mean would be to the interaction to make lines from one node to another be through dragging one node onto another and have drop zones reveal options for what links should be made, including the ones above and the ones I have added below, with both textual description and visual.

• Relationship Settings

  – Notes: dotted greyed lines to indicate unsure relationships
  – Labels: greyed lines to indicate labels the author has set to comment on a node. This will likely not show up in the word processing view
  – Comments: On locked documents or in read mode, red lines to indicate that someone other than the author has added text, which is thus referred to as a comment


Furthermore, since Liquid View will be a digital implementation, the labels for the links can be used to filter which nodes and links should be shown and in what ways.

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The Proof Is In The Pudding

They say the proof is in the pudding so I decided to try to make sense of the mass of documents in my folder for the 9 month report by taking it from this:



To this, using Scapple:


I’m sitting in the Groucho’s lobby working for a few minutes before the Big Guys Gather for the Little Guy dinner (me and my male friends having a boy’s baby shower since Emily decided to wait for a gathering until after Kazu is born), so I will be working on the logic and layout for this tomorrow. Already some patterns are beginning to show, but I have to close my laptop soon. Here is what I have the following Tuesday:


What became clear when working on this is that it does not really reflect a logic of a word processing document – the bold headings on the left hand side are the categories/sections I should be using for this document, but here they are just indications. I therefore decided to make the bold level one headings and have the ‘document’ presented as columns, each for a level one heading, 4 headings wide and this made much more sense:

The lines are still just reminder lines for me and there are a few headings/nodes which are not under a level one heading (for example; ‘A Personal Note on the Process’) which would be at the very end of the document in word processor view.

This leads to a couple of insights/ideas

The default layout of liquid view should not be the same as Table of Contents view.

The user should be able to specify automatic layouts for the level one view, such as the grid shown here (by keyboard 1,2,3,4 to indicate the number of columns), in the same way the user should able to choose to ‘Align vertical’ and so on.


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