I've been working with Personal Brain on and off for a few years now--no serious applications, but from time to time I create some new thoughts or add some new ideas.  Basically they run the gamut from topics on philosophy and history to science and mathematics.  Occasionally I have an interest in writing a paper or giving a talk on a topic that touches on one or more of these areas.  But even when it touches on a single area, I only want a small subset of the thoughts which may be associated with it.  Of course, PB is particularly handy in reminding me of connections moderately tangential to my main topic and I don't want to lose that capability.  But what I need to to is create a path--a sub-brain if you will--which highlights and organizes--outlines, really--the material that I want in my talk.  And the outline motif is important here since not only do I want to select a limited subset of data, but I also want to organize it in outline form so I can build my paper/talk.  I do have some outlining software (ActionOutline) but I'm reluctant to duplicate everything there.  I'm sure I would end up relying on only one of the two products in the end.  Has anyone ever dealt with this issue?


I'm not sure what version you are currently using, but in 5.x and higher, if you aren't using the free version you can set the plex to Outline View (View > Outline). You can't set the default view for certain areas of your brain, or for specific brains, so whatever view you are using will carry over to the other brains.

With that in mind, there are several ways to do what you want.
  • Create a second brain, using only the information specific to your paper from the first brain. First, select all the thoughts related to the paper in your primary brain (either using reports, ctrl+clicking thoughts, or ctrl+clicking gates to get all thoughts attached to that gate, or Edit > Crawl Brain and Modify Selection). Right click the selection box and choose Copy Selected Thoughts.

    Then Choose File > New Brain, and when the brain is created, right-click the plex and paste thoughts. Switch to Outline view and lay it all out the way you want.
    As a bonus, if you are using version 6.x (in Beta), you can create a hyperlink from the "Paper" Thought in your Primary brain to a Thought in the Paper brain. You can just click that thought and automatically switch to that brain.
  • Keep all the information in your primary brain. You can just switch to Outline view, and build your outline below the "Paper" thought. If you are using the Pro version, you can either tag all thoughts related to the paper with a specific tag, or use a Type instead. When you are ready to work on the paper, switch to outline view and go to the Reports tool tab. Click the All dropdown and select either the tag or type you have assigned. This will list all those thoughts. Now click the Filter dropdown and choose Normal. This will restrict everything on the plex (and in a search) to only show that type or tag so you can focus.
Hope this gives you a few ideas.

Windows 7
OSX 10.6.3
Java SE 6

This is a good subject for discussion. Yes outline view is helpful. I find switching between brains can get a bit tedious at times. What sometimes helps me is to create a child thought from the main topic named ", details" (to allow context-sensitive naming), then expand locally from that (construct your paper in outline mode) without cluttering the main "highway".

Outline mode can be a little tricky to get used to at first and could be optimized a bit more but at least there's no shortening of thought names and you can drag the map in any direction.

Alan Rhodes

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