mctrexler
We're continuing to try and "sell" TheBrain, or at least our Climate Web Meg-Brain, to people interested in climate change.  These are all smart people, all computer and web-savvy.  But not TheBrain savvy, and most have no desire to become so.  People love the idea of what we're trying to do with the Climate Web, but have no patience for the interface.  One person (who is actively engaged in software development) yesterday commented: "I'm surprised they can get away with that interface in today's world."  I noted that TheBrain remains the only software that makes it possible to do what we're trying to do with the Climate Web, regardless of interface issues. She wasn't impressed (since when you're first introducing people the TheBrain people tend to realize that they don't like the interface much faster than they recognize the potential value of the software.

That's one reason we've just developed a lengthy Users Visual Guide to the Climate Web, which I've attached (actually I can't attach it because it's 11 MBs with all the graphics - but it is available here on Dropbox [wink].  It relies heavily on expanded view and related screenshots to try and show people what TheBrain can do, the kinds of views that they'll never see through Webbrain.  We'd welcome feedback on this Visual Users Guide from TheBrain afficionados!

But has TheBrain ever considered (or perhaps done) focus group testing for TheBrain, and Webbrain in particular?  What is it that could be changed about Webbrain, or at least the options available to us in designing Webbrains, that would mitigate the negative reaction that most people have?  If we could radically simplify Webbrain to be more fit-for-purpose to specific audiences through one-way links, through basic "reporting" capabilities, or through other means, would that make a big difference to peoples' perceptions.  Or are there other things about the interface or the design that would make a big difference - and that might be easy to do?  

We've invested about 16,000 hours in the Climate Web, and it is now an AMAZING knowledge resource for all things climate change.  There is nothing like it anywhere, and it could really help people get their heads around the climate change problem and what to do about it.  But not if they simply refuse to engage due to the interface. I'm certainly not suggesting that they should refuse - after all the learning curve is really quite short, and if you're at all a visual thinker you can get used to TheBrain interface pretty quickly.  But in today's world of "there must be an app for that" thinking, people aren't willing to give it that chance.  It would make a lot of sense for TheBrain to think about this challenge, which is why I ask about focus groups?  Maybe it's already been done?  If not, let's do it!

Mark

Visual Users Guide Cover.jpg
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zenrain
Just out of interest, did they mention any concrete reasons they didn't like the interface?
macOS 10.12.5
TheBrain 9.0.207
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mctrexler
Zenrain, generally speaking many people just have a vague "that looks really klunky," or "too many lines and squiggles," or "OMG" reaction.  It's hard to know exactly what it is that is generating the response - hence my thought on actually doing some real research into the question.  

Mark
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zenrain
Gotcha. I agree, I've never really heard much in the way of reasons, so basically assume that it clicks with some, and not others. A focus group could go a long way to identifying something actionable.
macOS 10.12.5
TheBrain 9.0.207
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metta
I agree completely!

> Getting focus group feedback could go a long way toward identifying hindrances to more widespread user adoption.

> On an individual basis, it has been hard for me to determine exactly what people don't like about TheBrain, for a couple of reasons:

(1) In most cases, the people who don't like TheBrain that I've spoken have not really been able to articulate their reasons in any detail:
  • Either they don't readily "get" how it works, and they don't have the patience to figure it out.
  • Or, they simply succumb to visual overwhelm and freeze up.
(2) In my case, TheBrain initially appeared to be a stroke of genius, and I was "on board" immediately -- so I'm too biased now by my own fascination with the software to be able to fully understand and appreciate how other less receptive folks actually experience TheBrain.

FWIW, I also do have a theory that, in the vast majority of cases, the organizing structure behind large brains (like the ones you and I create, Mark) may elude the majority of new users, despite our best efforts to make this structure clear and transparent.

For this reason, I look forward to reviewing your newest effort in this direction, Mark: The Users Visual Guide to the Climate Web. Thanks for sharing! :-)


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mctrexler
The Users Visual Guide is 83 pages long.  So it's a work of art but perhaps (!) a bit daunting.  Today we played with an alternative, namely 2-pagers that are particularly fit for purpose.  I've attached two such 2-pagers here:

1.   An overview of the Climate Communications Deep Dive, with interpretive key
2.  An overview of how experts and expertise are integrated into the Climate Web, with interpretive key.

Feedback welcome!

Mark
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mctrexler
In responding to other comments above, I think TheBrain faces a fundamental problem in this age of "there must be an app for that."  We complain about our kids being spoiled and requiring instant gratification, but in reality everyone suffers from that problem today.  What that means is that people have the opportunity to "not be instantly satisfied by TheBrain interface" long before they have any idea of how the Brain might be able to help them.  It's a losing game.  

As I write this I'm realizing that we may have been taking the wrong approach with how we introduce TheBrain and the Climate Web.  Instead of simply diving into the Climate Web and hoping for the best, what I'm realizing is that we need to first be focusing on why people should be frustrated by their current inability to grasp the full picture when it comes to climate change.  In other words, build up a "demand" for climate change knowledge management in their minds BEFORE presenting them with the Climate Web.  

Need to play with this further.  Thanks for listening!

Mark
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metta
Mark,

Years ago I once heard someone say that information overload is not a problem if the information is relevant.

If there is any truth to this, then you are right: establishing relevance (WIIFM*) will be absolutely essential.

Keep us posted on your progress. Might be worth a separate discussion under TheBrain Uses?

Best of luck,
Metta

* What's In It For Me


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