My comments here will focus on making Webbrain more useful. There is a big opportunity being missed with TheBrain, namely encouraging users to utilize TheBrain in ways that will provide natural marketing for it. This is the kind of role we are trying to play with the Climate Web, to take one example. There are literally 10’s of thousands of people who are likely to be exposed to TheBrain for the first time through the Climate Web, and if they get sucked into the Climate Web are more likely to purchase TheBrain. But there also thousands of people who would use TheBrain in an analogous way to what we’re doing with the Climate Web, e.g. as an expert system/educational/training resource, if Webbrain were at all user-friendly. But it all depends on Webbrain not scaring most people away in the first few minutes.
At the desktop end there are a few things that would provide a lot more flexibility in terms of the Webbrain experience:
- Being able to mass-change Links. Links can be a very useful tool, but the ability to manipulate Links (type, size, editing, etc.) has no practical value if it has to be done link by link.
- Being able to make Links private. This has been discussed in the Forums a bit but I’m not sure that folks understand that it would be very useful. Right now we have to go through the process of creating private thoughts, linked to two public thoughts, in order to isolate the two public thoughts from each other in terms of Webbrain users. Being able to create a private Link would avoid this step and be very useful.
- Being able to toggle One-Way links, so that I can see them on my Desktop, but they're not visible on Webbrain (much like Private thoughts today). I can't figure out the value of One-Way links when it makes me forget that two thoughts are linked, but I would love to be able to use One-Way links for purposes of Webbrain users.
- The ability to search and replace in thoughts would give us a lot more flexibility in maintaining a Brain that is used a lot through the Webbrain interface.
At the Webbrain end:
- Having the Search button actually work, goes without saying
- ADDED: Having one-way links work
- Being able to change the size of text and thoughts on screen, as we can in the desktop.
- Having at least an outline view option (other views would be very helpful as well, but at least the outline view because it’s a lot more intuitive for a lot of people).
- Being able to click on a thumb nail to activate a URL or PDF, rather than having to go down into the notes.
- Having the thumbnails open more quickly. If the same image placed in the Notes field is there immediately, why can’t that be the case for the thumbnails?
- 6. But perhaps most important is the need for a very basic Webbrain report capability. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- It is impossible to design a Brain that responds to the needs of beginning, intermediate, and advanced users of Webbrain (not so much from the standpoint of using TheBrain, but from the standpoint of exploring the topic that is represented in TheBrain). When it comes to climate change it would be great to be able to have a Webbrain user toggle the “beginner, intermediate, or advanced” switch, which in turn would hide parts of the Climate Web.
- Even better would be something akin to a Tag-Report function, where a user could choose a particular tag and only those tags would show on the screen. Not as all emanating out of the tag, which is what currently happens, but as in the report mode, so you see the structure of the Brain but only the tags you want to see. This would make TheBrain an order of magnitude more useful in terms of Webbrain access.
At the Team Brain end:
- Having the ability to define which parts of a Brain a Team Brain Editor has access to.
- Having the ability to keep the Administrator’s Private thoughts hidden from Team Brain Editors.
- On a more ambitious note, having it be possible for a Reader to download the Brain to their machine (or receive it on a USB stick or otherwise), but not be able to modify it. This would allow Readers to take advantage of the Desktop’s powerful Search and Report functions, without being Editors of the TeamBrain. Again, this option would make Team Brain far more useful to far more people than it is today. Making Webbrain a lot more powerful would certainly help here, but Webbrain is never going have anything close to the Search and Report capabilities that the Desktop has. And with a powerful Brain that one wants to provide public access to, e.g. the Climate Web with 55,000 thoughts and 10,000 documents, the lack of Search and Report capabilities is a huge problem. If Readers could have the Climate Web on their computers, not be able to modify it without a password or something, but still be able to sync it and manipulate it in terms of Search and Report and View, that would be huge.
Again, I’ve limited my thoughts here to ways to make TheBrain a more useful tool for sharing Topical Brains with potentially large publics, including in an educational environment. There is huge potential market out there.