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The Challenges of Data Visualization with TheBrain
By the way, following up on earlier notes in the thread, I recently completed an overhaul of our Climate Web Index.  There are now about 1,500 Index Terms.  Because of the way the Index is organized, with all Index Terms being vertically linked, and all materials being pointed to by the Index Terms being Jumps from the Index Term, it is pretty intuitive to navigate while pointing you to more than 3,000 specific places in the Climate Web.    Indexshot.png 
The Challenges of Data Visualization with TheBrain
You actually have to be pretty careful with TeamBrain, since key features have been often-discussed but never materialized.  Not so much the kind of template Antonio is talking about, but more the "letting people add to a particular part of the Brain without letting them accidentally blow the whole thing up," kind of thing.  It's more problematic than you might think, since in a larger Brain you might not even notice the problem until a backup would be of no real use (since so much had changed in the meantime).  TeamBrain was supposed to evolve in the direction of EKP, and these and other capabilities were supposed to be added, but mums still the word.   
The Challenges of Data Visualization with TheBrain
Following on Metta's reponse to IvanPsy, it's key to differentiate between the desktop version of the TheBrain and the Webbrain interface.  Notwithstanding all of the requests for new features, etc., the reality is that the Desktop version of TheBrain (at least through the version 8 which I'm using) is a very powerful way to organize and visualize information.  With reports, and one-way links and other things you have huge control over what you see and how you see it.  

The problem comes when introducing non-Brain people to the software, and particularly over Webbrain.  There you have ZERO ability to influence what the person sees and how they see it.  For most people it is terrifying (at least with a big Brain).  

Following up on Metta and Jared's exchange, over the last year I've integrated a comprehensive Index into my Climate Web megabrain, and the Index alone is now up to >1000 entries.  But what the Index does is make it possible for people to quickly see where they are, since the thoughts are very clean, all Parents and Children are other Index entries, so you can zip up a couple of levels and orient yourself.  In effect the 1,000 Index Entries are a doorway into the 85,000 thoughts and 145,000 links in the larger Brain.  Still a work in progress, but it has potential.  
Expanded View Video
I want to create a looping video of a Brain in Expanded View.  Does anyone have any insight into the size of Brain, and the viewing parameters (if any) for getting the ideal visual experience?  Alternatively, is there some good video footage already out there I could use?  


Pins and Types not syncing correctly
Gordon, when this happens the only thing to do in my experience is to Unpin all the pins on your desktop, unpin any pins showing up on Webbrain that aren't showing up on your desktop, sync desktop to webbrain, Repin the pins you want to use in the desktop, and sync again.  Scrambled pins happens to me every month or two for no apparent reason, and this multi-step process is the only one I've found.    

The Challenges of Data Visualization with TheBrain
All of these points are true, and the question is whether they can be overcome.  Right now when it comes to Webbrain we have so little ability to ease users into a Brain that we're pretty much out of luck. I've invested huge amounts of time trying to structure links and content so that someone coming in without the benefit of the background Zenrain refers to doesn't have to be overwhelmed.  But with no ability to use one-way thoughts to structure what people see, or to use basic "report" abilities to allow users to structure what they want to see, or to be able to filter TheBrain content in any way, it's VERY difficult to overcome the problems of cognitive overload in anything but the simplest of Brains (and the simplest of Brains totally miss the whole point of Brains).  I don't think that's inherently a TheBrain problem, it's just that no one has ever paid any attention to the problem before since the business model of TheBrain is exclusively based on desktop access.  If we would think a bit on how to allow others into TheBrain Club without overwhelming or scaring them to death, there's a huge opportunity there.  But it requires some effort.
Attachment sizes for web brain
A related question.  For the thousands of files already in a Brain, is this or any other compression solution efficient?  For example, just being able to right click on a PDF in a Brain folder and compress?  

But also, would there be any risk to compressing files that are already in Webbrain?  Would Brain even recognize that the file was different (compressed)?

Attachment sizes for web brain
JRH, thanks as well for the solution. Just curious whether you've compared different products and concluded this is best?  Thanks!
The Challenges of Data Visualization with TheBrain
I received a thoughtful email from a data visualization expert yesterday that I thought I would share just in terms of his reactions to Brains as a communications medium. 

"Mind maps are very flexible but have some inherent limitations when it comes to visualizing large-scale patterns (seeing the forest, not just the trees), and when used for navigation as you are doing:

  • They are mostly words (so you have to read them to understand them)
  • They tend to use space arbitrarily (so link positions alone don’t convey much meaning other than local grouping)
  • They don’t scale well (forcing you to explore them through a keyhole once they get beyond a certain size)

As a result, it’s hard for the user to maintain context.  The experience is like wandering in a maze. When you first enter the maze you have no idea whatsoever about how large and deep it is, and once you are inside it you can only see your immediate surroundings, so quickly become lost.

As long as you are committed to using this particular tool, there is not much you can do to overcome these limitations, other than constantly trimming your hierarchy so that there are never too many links on any one level.  Color coding or guidepost patterns in the background images might help if they were consistent, but I’m not sure how much control the brain software gives you over this sort of thing.  Are you open to exploring other tools or forms of visualization?

 When I work with people on visualizations and user experience I try to get them to focus on exactly what they are trying to accomplish.  Who is your user?  What precisely is this user trying to do?  How exactly will your brain help them do this?

 I agree completely with your E. O. Wilson quote that we are drowning in information while starving for wisdom.  How does your chess brain alleviate this problem?  In one of your videos you mentioned that the brain preserves links that would otherwise be forgotten and hard to rediscover via googling.  But is that really the primary problem you are trying to solve?  If so, how does a hiding those links inside a vast maze help?

 Or are you instead trying to create a guided experience that encourages people to browse and find links they’ve never seen before?  That’s a very different goal.  If so, what principle do you use when choosing links for your collection?  Are you trying to promote a certain perspective?  What are you doing to entice the user and encourage them to stay and keep exploring?

 Or are you trying to create a shared resource for the resistance community, one that will somehow evolve and incorporate their insights?  If so, is it really possible to do that while maintaining sole control over the topic tree and link choices?  Why not make a wiki instead?

 Or do you want to convey an overall impression of universe of information and reveal high-level patterns that might help people think more strategically?  Is so, wouldn’t it be important to incorporate the element of time so that users could see how the brain has been changing?  Wouldn’t it be useful to show where recent activity is and where it isn’t?  How would you do that through a keyhole?

 I ask these questions not to be rude, but to help you zero in on *exactly* what you are really trying to accomplish.  Once you have that nailed down, it will be easier to tell whether or not you are succeeding.

A New Experiment - Brain Crowdfunding
Brain Folks,

We're continuing to experiment with whether we can engage interested people to explore Brains through Webbrain, and have just launched 4 different Patreon crowdfunding projects relating to different Brain projects.  

The Climate Web     also available at http://www.theclimateweb.org

Type II Diabetes Brain 

Exchange Student Brain

Resistance Chess Brain   also available at http://www.resistancechess.com  

Each is using different ways of organizing information, and focusing on different types of information, to see what might work. Feedback and support welcome! 

I keep hoping that TheBrain will come to see Webbrain as something to really focus on in opening up whole new audiences of potential users for the desktop software. Right now getting people to use Webbrain is a real uphill battle, but we continue to point out to them that 1. It's a short learning curve to get past the original "OMG" response, and 2. The next version of Webbrain will be improved. Still hoping that's true.


Windows 10, Brain
Utilities vs. utilization in search?
That is one strange default synonym list!   :-)   If all sorts of completely different ideas are considered synonyms in the list, it really reduces the value of a search function.  

WebBrain Running?
That's been the case for at least a week (I've tried repeatedly without success).  Patrick told me via chat it would be down a lot as they work on the Webbrain program (although I'm not quite sure why the programming wouldn't be happening off-line and then get uploaded periodically).  

Backing Up (#3425)
Does that mean that it's impossible to use a program like FolderMatch, which I've used successfully for years to keep my Brains backed up quickly and efficiently?   If so, that's really unfortunate.  Is there a set of directories that if backed up would serve the same purpose?  

I have not tried backing up a mega brain in V9, but I can't imagine that backing up a 20GB brain is quick, not to mention the reliability concerns of any compression of 20GB's of stuff.  

Selling Knowledge Management with the Brain
Only with massive Brains, and we're finding that using TheBrain as a consulting tool rather than an information product is probably the value proposition.  A large Brain is just too complicated for 3rd parties to deal with independently. But what we're also going to try is mini-Brains tied to specific interests, news stories, etc.  Maybe even a subscription where we add to a company's customized Brain on a weekly basis.  But keeping the Brains small and easy to use.  It's still very challenging because the limitations of Webbrain in v.8 are a big problem, and we have no idea what Webbrain in v.9 is going to look like.

Selling Knowledge Management with the Brain
I'm focused on rather enormous Brains for knowledge management purposes, but I'm curious who if anyone out there is selling TheBrain as a service in the sense of "I'll put together a knowledge management system for whatever topic or problem you are grappling with right now," and involving an hour, a day, or a week of time invested.  Anyone doing that?

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