rstoeber
After working with PersonalBrain for a couple of weeks I can see the potential benefits all over the organization. The part that's bothering me today is the "personal" aspect of PersonalBrain. If we are going to use it for project management, process modeling and other applications across the company the information is going to have to be maintained and backed up properly, and readily accessible to other people - the information can't remain locked in a personal Brain.

In addition, it will have to be easy to merge the Brains of several people and make that available to others in the organization, especially senior management that isn't using PersonalBrain software. So I'm looking for advice about how other people are dealing with these issues.

I have looked at BrainEKP and while I'd love to have that server to play with, the price is way out of line at this stage of our project. In today's economy it's hard enough to justify a half dozen copies of PersonalBrain. So I'm trying to figure out how to take some smaller steps toward making PersonalBrain a more practical "CorporateBrain."

For me, step one is to set up a version control process for our separate Brains. We already use Subversion for storing and tracking revisions of other types of documents, so this would be easy - no additional software, training, or security required. I simply have to tell people to make a BrainZip and upload it with comments every time they make significant changes. That's exactly what they do now with spreadsheets, Word documents and other things so that's easy. Other people that are allowed access to that repository will be able to get the most current Brains to merge with their own at any time. Local and remote workers all have the same access, so this solves one problem.

My second issue isn't really much of a problem. It would be nice to have a script of some kind that can merge different BrainZips. Is such a script available? Since the result of the merge would probably be just another BrainZip any users would have to have the PersonalBrain software. They can already merge manually, but I would still like to have an automated process that's always creating a comprehensive "Project Brain" without human intervention. (I've been around a long time and don't trust people to remember to merge the newest Brains while under pressure before a critical meeting.)

The third element I need for my perfect "CorporateBrain" is the most important, and I don't think I can do it on my own. I want a script to automatically merge Brains as they are updated, and generate an updated Web site. This is critical because senior management and most other people in the organization won't have the PersonalBrain software, but they need access to the most current information. Web browsers are the tool of choice for accessing this type of information and we've already made lots of other management tools to gather, summarize and display information on our intranet sites. For now I can have an intern merge six Brains a few times each day and upload the new Web site, but that is a waste of time and prone to human error, and stops working entirely when he's out with the flu.

Any advice much appreciated. Suggested solutions will be implemented and tested immediately.

http://Rstoeber.com


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mbaas
To answer (or "discuss") your item #3: have you looked at Webbrain yet? This is great for read-only access to uploaded Brainzips. Your editing users could upload their individual brains and if it was sufficiently easy to know which Brain to look at when searching for a certain info (i.e. if the brains were for separate projects), you wouldn't even need prior merging. Yes, Webbrain is "public", but there are different levels of privacy so that noone else except the ppl in your organisation (that you shared the URL with) would be able to access these brains.
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rstoeber
Yes, I've looked at Webbrain and it's a very interesting addition to PersonalBrain, but in my case security concerns would make it more trouble than it's worth.  Much of the information that has to be included in our Brains is proprietary and must stay inside the firewall.  Even if we could identify certain Brains that could be placed on Webbrain it wouldn't make sense because then our users would have to look in two different places.

Using PersonalBrain in the corporate world requires adherence to existing data handling and security policies.  As a personal desktop tool that's easy, but the real magic comes from combining and distributing Brains, which has to be done within the required constraints.  It looks to me like many of the required tools are available, in Webbrain for example, but are not yet packaged for sale.  Hopefully that will change soon.


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Darkstar
Why don't you have a "master" personal brain export its contents as a sitebrain, and then post that sitebrain to an internal site? It won't be as slick as Webbrain, but it will allow access to all the notes and thoughts in a decent analog of running Personal Brain.

If you merged all team's latests brainzips into the master brain, and exported it as a sitebrain at the end of your business day, then yesterday's data would always be available. If you needed to update it during the day (for a presentation appendix at a meeting), then you'd just merge the latest brainzips and export it before heading out.
-Darkstar
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rstoeber
Darkstar,

That's exactly what we have to do, but my question is how to automate the creation of that "master" Brain and the exporting of the Sitebrain.  If we are seriously using this software, which I hope we can, there will be changes happening all the time in six (or more) PersonalBrains.

It should be possible to script the merging/exporting so the Sitebrain is updated as often as necessary.  The required parts all exist in the PersonalBrain Pro software, so I hope the powers that be at The Brain realize that such a utility is very important in the business world.


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Darkstar
The merging is what I'd think is the tough part. You should be able to write a script to send input to an open Personal Brain, and have it send in the keystroke commands you need to export itself as a sitebrain easily.

In fact, you should be able to have a cron job start up PB, have it load a particular brain, and then push it through exporting that brain in sitebrain format.

I used the merge brains function very rarely, so I don't know where the human brain thinking is required in its usage. It seems that it should be possible to set 6 directories on your master synthesis machine to pull in your team's latest brainzips, and initiate a merge with the master brain and their individual ones. But if there is any "random" prompts thrown up (asking for decisions) in that process, that will prevent auto-merging.
-Darkstar
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