There's a ton 'o "how do I do this threads". Here's something slightly different.
If you have been using TheBrain for a while, then I'm guessing your database and your workflow has evolved as you learn more about the software and it's uses. So, what's changed for you?

I'll start.

  • I get a lot less caught up in structure and categorization.
  • I use thought types sparingly (I used to be a thought type junkie, but I'm better now). Mainly for themes of items that I need to identify in groups. For example books, people, forms, issues (I work at a software company), procedures, reports. Stuff that I need to narrow down quickly, or just want to see a list of like thoughts which aren't under a single parent.
  • I use tags even more sparingly. Mainly for stuff I need to see easily. For example, "current work",  "current home", "revisit", "frequent". I also pin them.
  • I use instant search a lot. I consider it my main window into my database.
  • While I mostly use normal view, my use of expand all has become much more frequent. It's mostly on if I'm not in a particularly information dense area. Runner up is outline view, good for lists. I still barely ever use expanded view. I don't know why.
  • I used to use date thoughts. Mainly for weeks, and days etc. I've since completely transitioned to the Calendar and haven't looked back. I don't use the calendar for appointments (although I do mark meetings on it so I can find the notes easily), but more for date relevant information. For example, when I read a book. When I started a project. When I watched a movie. Hopefully someday it will get a bit more love and have a bit more visibility in the plex, but it's by no means a deal breaker.
  • I maximize the plex, notes or the calendar more frequently then I used to. I also use Thought > Open Notes window a lot. Especially as a reference for procedures.
  • I use the capture thought icon feature every day. The more I use the software, the more I've come to appreciate visual cues.
  • I used to use background pictures for the plex. Pretty much exclusively. After I created the solarized themes I've never looked back. Ok, maybe every once in a while for old times sake. I find it easier to read and follow the structure.
  • I've gotten a lot more careful about what I put in it. Used to be I attached web pages and articles willy-nilly. Now when I add something it's because: I need it as a reference, it evolves an area, it's pertinent, it's something that I need for context for something else, it's something I want a record of. I use a bookmarking site (Pinboard) for bookmarks, and Instapaper for articles I want to read. They only make it into TheBrain after consideration. It's my curated area, not an inbox.

I think the first three and the last one are the most significant changes over the time I've used the software.

Your turn...
macOS 10.14.6
TheBrain 10.0.54
Interesting to see how others use TheBrain over time. I see some similarities in my own habits and some are quite different.

Here are my changes:

  • While in the first few years I sometimes recreated my whole thought structure, in the last years it became relatively stable, at least for the base "hubs" that I use every day. I separated my thoughts into categories such as "business", "personal", "database", etc. And I have even a "living room" where I can access thoughts for everyday life.
  • Some thoughts have proven to be very useful, especially as they evolved into big networks over time. One of them is my "inspiration"-thought where I collect all sorts of inspirational things. As a graphic designer, this has become a great resource for my work along with my "ideas"-thought, where I collect methods for idea finding.
  • I don't create new brains anymore for many years now. I have a huge main brain that is open all the time (except when I have another Java app open, because I don't want my CPU to be toasted...). Besides that I have only one brain for brainstorming sessions, because I don't want to clutter up my main brain with redundant thoughts.
  • Person-thoughts have become very useful to me. Though I don't collect informations about every person I occasionally met anymore, but I use them to stay in contact to people and remember stuff like their relationships to other persons I know, what skills they have (for collaboration), what their personal websites are and so on. Maybe it'd be scary for some people to see their names linked in my brain, haha. [biggrin]
  • I have a hierarchy of thought types, for example to classify different types of companies, publications and so on. Mostly I'm quite lazy to type every thought I add, but it helps me keeping things organized. I love statistics and seeing relationships that I've not been able to see before, so somehow I'm addicted to classifying and tagging thoughts, even if it's not really as useful as I imaging it.
  • I have come to appreciate my "golden" thought types. When I add links to resources that I find very useful, I tag them as "golden resource" or other types of "golden" to be able to distinguish them from the less useful resources.
  • When it comes to adding new thoughts, creating types or tags I found it most useful to add stuff that has a personal meaning to me, that is related to the stuff I'm doing or giving it a structure that reflects my way of thinking. In the past I have added almost anything, even the most common and unpersonal stuff. It was a "more is more" approach, I believed that someday it'll be useful to have everything connected to everything else. But it is really just time consuming nonsense.
  • I prefer to keep all my thoughts fully expanded, I somehow got used to seeing the plex cluttered with thoughts all over and I like it. I never use outline mode, except when it really makes some things clear to me. I found that the "Mindmap"-view (don't know how it's called in english) was never really useful to me. It was always more of a struggle to keep things positioned on the right place. When I want Mindmaps, I work with MindNode, but I do this for other reasons than what I do with TheBrain.
  • Most of the time I just use instant search to find things I need. I don't add thoughts very frequently and mostly I add links I found on the web to keep them for later. But when I have more spare time and the muse caught me I can get really mad with adding new stuff and categorizing, restructuring, etc.
  • I've come to enjoy revisiting old thoughts I created many years ago. :-)

I have come to appreciate my "golden" thought types. When I add links to resources that I find very useful, I tag them as "golden resource" or other types of "golden" to be able to distinguish them from the less useful resources.

That's a great idea, I'm going to have to try that out.

Some thoughts have proven to be very useful, especially as they evolved into big networks over time. One of them is my "inspiration"-thought where I collect all sorts of inspirational things.

I have had the same experience. The areas I've used most have evolved over time into the structure that I've found best works for me. These are the hub areas of the database. The lesser used areas are a bit more like sparks, they are still there and act as a reference, but most structures aren't fully formed. That doesn't make them less useful, just that they serve a different purpose.
macOS 10.14.6
TheBrain 10.0.54

great zenrain.

1. Left behind all fancy backgrounds. fun for a while - now? solid black background - more colored types show up easy, less battery drain, less eye-strain at night.

2. view in normal mode to view in outline mode in multiple levels. I organize books/talks and multiple levels of hierarchy (variable by active thought) is beautiful in outline mode

3. complex ontology type structure to simplified type structure - leverage color of types - now using variations of colors for levels within a type hierarchy. example: Priority spectrum - dark-orange/orange/peach/light-yellow/yellow (if its yellow, it's "priority 1 action" for that parent project thought - light-yellow is "priority 2", peach "priority 3) - or yellow "priority 1 friend," or yellow "priority 1 client" etc.

4. left GTD structure in dust - now priority subthoughts for projects to organize priorities for planning. Project X (red) with X1, X2, X3 subthoughts (pink) to prioritize longer term plans for the project. Put all actions/goals in project then prioritize general priorites by child thought. (Then color priorities  types #3 to further clarify sub priorities)

5. shift from using types to org brain to tags. - created simple/long short tag system a-z, with numbers. ex. "0g" tag tells me the thought has to do with "game metaphor" or "0n" is a project I intend to do sometime in the future.

6. blashphemy - now use tags in place of parent thoughts to keep overall structure of brain clean. tags are like parent thoughts that only show when you want them to. 

Mark Michael Lewis | The Profitability Coach
http://GameOfThriving.com | Mark@TheThriveCoach.com
It sounds like you have gone to a pretty specialized structure, and I think this is the first I've heard of using tags in place of parent thoughts. From the sounds of it you have a large number of tags but you have a syntax so it's easy to recall. Interesting.
Does it scale well? Do you mainly use instant search for the grunt work and only view by parents/tags for specific uses/scenarios? Just trying to get a feel for the workflow that you follow for that setup.

Thanks for sharing!
macOS 10.14.6
TheBrain 10.0.54
A number of interesting ideas listed in the thread.  Am still trying to get my head around tags as parent thoughts though.  And really like the suggestion (maybe not this thread) to put Tags on the left side of the screen. 

For me the biggest change has been a re-focus from using Brain as a massive filing cabinet (which I finally realized is totally normal but actually defeats a lot of the potential value of Brain) to thinking about whether and how Brain can be used in an interactive environment with other people to explore ideas and knowledge.  I still have and use my personal Brain, but most of my original efforts is going into my topical climate change Brain which I use for on-line video development, webinars, consulting, etc.  What's become increasingly obvious to me over time is that different people's biological Brains actually work quite differently, and if you want to interact with them it's really useful to create multiple ways into the information they might be interested in.  So a huge effort has gone into structuring Brain so that there are a bunch of ways to explore it (a step towards James Burke's Knowledge Web, but a lot more structured).  I can't use instant search as my primary access vehicle because it's just not very useful for interacting with other people unless I am looking for a very specific fact (and even then the need to remember key words in one thought out of 10's of 000's is often difficult).  So there have to be breadcrumb trails running through the Brain. 

To that end I've been doing a lot more with:

1.  Customized links using color and thickness to help create breadcrumb trails of different kinds, and to tell me instantly which link out of 10 links emanating from a thought is likely to be going where.
2.  Topical tags that allow me to use Reports to create mini-Brains on screen that are a lot less distracting in a video or a webinar.  Tagging 100 thoughts out of the total Brain, and then running a report with only those thoughts, give me a very compact and useful Brain to present or work with on-line, without having to physically separate such a Brain.
3.  One-way tags.  As one creates more and more links to a specific thought, it gets harder to show that thought to people without them getting confused.  I've started doing a lot more with one-way links, although still find it a confusing tool in terms of how it actually performs. 
4.  Thought icons, and getting them to maximize in the Plex consistently.  I use Brain (in outline mode since it works much better for presentation purposes) with thought icons as my alternative to PPTs.  Much more efficient to build or reuse presentations in Brain than to start modifying an actual PPT. Still working at integrating hundreds of pre-existing PPTs!
5.  Private thoughts - since I sometimes give other people access to the webbrain version, I use private thoughts a lot simple to mask information I don't want other people to see, and have been appreciating the importance of that more and more.
6.  Jump thoughts - I know that some people really don't differentiate between Jump, Parent, and Child thoughts, and simply allocate thoughts among them to maximize information in the Plex. But I've increasingly found Jump thoughts as the best way to really provide the cross-indexing that allows me to quickly find related information across the Brain.

I have another thread in this forum where I've posted links to several videos exploring the Brain I'm talking about.  Any suggestions people might have for how I'm using or not using key features would be appreciated. 

I note that a couple of posters emphasized their use of their Brains in fully expanded mode.  I wish I could figure out how that actually works; with 30,000 thoughts I haven't been able to figure out how to make the expanded Brain useful. 

http://www.climatographer.com   @climateroulette

I note that a couple of posters emphasized their use of their Brains in fully expanded mode.  I wish I could figure out how that actually works; with 30,000 thoughts I haven't been able to figure out how to make the expanded Brain useful. 

I (and I think Peter93 if I interpreted his comment correctly) use Expand All (View > Expand All), not Fully expanded (the expanded view where you re-arrange the thoughts).

It should be scalable unless you have a large number of child/sibling thoughts, in which case it gets a little cluttered. Override Distant thought color is useful if you do this. At least it would be if it retained it's setting when you restart TheBrain. /Sigh

You make a good point, when switching to a public view you have to rely more on navigation so you really have to think about the structure and how to make it accessible for multiple people. I found I have two completely different mind sets:

  • When I'm working in my personal database I put stuff in with it geared towards search-ability. Primarily instant search and secondarily extended searching. Organization still has a place, so I try to attach it to other thoughts that make sense, but I know if it becomes a frequently visited area I'll build it up.
  • When I'm working on TheBrain User Knowledgebase I try to pay more attention to structure and using titles I think will make sense to others. Trying to keep a consistent presentation and have visual clues (as you do with your ThoughtIcons) I think is much more important than searchability in this case. Not sure how successful I am, but it's definitely a different mindset.
Thanks for sharing your perspective, it's interesting to hear how your emphasis has changed when moving from a personal information manager to a shared knowledge database.

When I get a bit more time I'll check out your videos to see what I can learn and report back. [smile]
macOS 10.14.6
TheBrain 10.0.54

Universal Class - Artificial intelligence.

Besides the project “compendium”, I am now working out the o.o. Universal Class and the preparation of an convenient way to use A.I. as an extension to the handsome TheBrain software. I think that more and more besides to apply great projects like augmented reality for car driving, training on the work floor, Medical research  domotics, wearable sensors, finding car problems out and so on will be on the order for the the practice of an Universal Class and A.I. The hated users manual (RTFM) will soon be substitute by a web application which with a well defined questionnaire, will allow the system to resolve the encountered problems for a specific device. Where now the use of A.i. is distrusted to specialists, the ordinary man will incresingly make use of it.

Like you see I love big challenges and try to make my projects as general as possible, that has the benefit that the user don’t have to move from one application to another and he has everything centralized in one place.Also he only has to know the use of only a few applications in stead of an dozend of them.

I also try to foresee in which way informatics can make our life easier and better. 

How i use TheBrain:

For me, comfort and a good overview of the objects is essential. This imply to mapping and ordening the ideas in well defined subgroups (I use  jump links therefor) and makes that the system as much as possible does the search in our place (Yes, I am lazy!). I like to use the drill-down method if I don’t know a correct keyword for searching. a subdivision in child links in that is the correct use. For search with keywords, involves the use of a lot of tags.(I even hope, The team will expanded the use of tags to the links) I also like to limit only the needed thoughts and relations in little groups, that makes the use of types evident. (I have to work this out in compendium).Till now I found the export module insufficient and difficult to use! (spreaded commands in diverse modules). Just because the brain is restricted to save one’s ideas quickly and efficiently in a centralized place, it’s logical that users want to be able to do more with the colleted information and a good export function becomes very important. (Json likes to me, to be the most appropriate and easy to use format). It’s also a great advantage that TheBrain can be used and synchronizes on all used devices (This must be a monster work).

So, that where my opinions about the use of TheBrain.


Kind regards,


Mac mini late 2014 with 8Gb and TheBrain 9.1.15


My comments are less about TB features and more on how I use TB to augment my human brain.
The computer metaphor is outdated. Latest research in cognitive science tells us the human brain is not designed to be a logical information-processing machine. Using the human brain to store and retrieve volumes of stuff is risky due to cognitive biases and memory issues. Consequently, I use Evernote for that purpose. 
The human brain is built to recognize patterns. When we view partial data scans, our automonic receptive processing system kicks in (System 1 in Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow). We quickly act on a “first fit pattern match” approach. TB’s ability to link thoughts really supports pattern recognition. When I zero in on a thought and view other linked thoughts, I can sense the neurons in my human brain firing off to increase my understanding and even make new connections I never thought of.
When I need do deeper thinking and think slow (System 2) , TB augments my novelty receptive processing system. I create a brand new parent thought and develop from there.
We see the world not as it is but as we are.

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