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What is Collaborative Visualization and Mindmapping (updated)

Page history last edited by mmferro@gmail.com 7 years, 2 months ago

What Is Collaborative Visualization 



Collaboration As Team Interaction:


Darren Smith describes in his blog the dynamics of team collaboration: “decisions are made based on what’s best for the project. In addition, team members do things for each other ‘as other’ without any short-term benefit for themselves. They don’t need to do things for each other and they want to do things for each other even at risk of money or reputation. 


Collaborative Visualization Definition:


In the paper “Collaborative Visualization: Definition, Challenges and Research Agenda" Isenberg et al define Collaborative visualization as:


“The shared use of computer-supported, (interactive) visual representations of data by more than one person with the common goal of contribution to joint information processing activities.”


Figure source: [iv]"Collaborative visualization: definition, challenges, and research agenda."  


Many times personal or professional projects fall behind schedule because communication among team members depends on email or other physical documents that can easily disrupt the process when lost or not shared with all members.

Collaborative visualization can offer professionals of all backgrounds, students and individuals, powerful tools that will give a shared voice to all team members in the decision process creating a shared space for generating ideas, share and collaborate on documents by empowering creative collaboration.

Collective team's brainpower will help ideate, find pain points and solutions for any kind of project that can be tackled on real time collaborative sessions or asynchronous task management.


Collaborative visualization is also a field in research across different areas that deal with large amounts of information and require users to be able to exchange knowledge in diverse settings to analyze the underlying data.


Tom Wujec writes in his blog that many team collaborations efforts often fail because of individual difference on perception, restricted team interactions, and uncoordinated work changes.


Wujec’s principles of visual team collaboration are:


Principle One: Representing information visually to increase understanding

“Visual Collaboration illustrates every key aspect of a project as drawings, pictures or word diagrams to build shared frameworks for understanding, choice and action. Visually accurate representations - abstract or literal, data or opinion driven, simple or complex - help clarify the real pressures facing the group, what success looks like, and how the team will realize their goals.”


Principle Two; Building prototypes that promote conversation, interaction and choice

“Visual Collaboration engages teams to draw, construct, prototype and even act out ideas. When ideas take tangible form, teams experience the fuller impact and consequences of choices early, helping learning, encouraging variations, and avoiding costly mistakes or communication breakdowns.”


Principle Three: Applying persistent panoramic frameworks to improve memory

“Visual Collaboration creates represent representations of the work. The missing part of collaboration techniques is the illustration of key elements, literally surrounding the people in their thoughts. This enhances memory and innovation enabling teams to compare and contrast.”


Some Collaborative Visualization Tools & Techniques

Michael Dubakov writes in his Edge of Chaos blog about one important rule of visualization: “Visualization should reveal problems, states, and trends.”  Keeping that rule in mind, it is clear that there are wide arrays of projects ranging from simple document building to research and engineering schematics that need input from large team member groups. 

The content in this section focuses on some tools that are currently used by different areas of professional project management and team collaboration to help across all development stages of a product or project.


Kanban Boards:


Kanban Board - Photo by Jeff Iasovski


Kanban boards are based on the Kanban method that focuses on visualizing workflow, limiting the work-in-progress so no team member is overloaded; pulls work from column to column to indicate pending, in progress or completed tasks; and allows team members to monitor, adapt or improve the overall goals of the project.


Today, many teams in software development, IT projects, customer support, marketing and more fields and working across geographical and time zones have started to use digital kanban boards online, in tools like Trello.com, Volerro.com, Atlassian’s Greenhopper (https://www.atlassian.com/software/greenhopper/overview), among many more.


Sample screen from Trello.com



Sample screen from Kanbanize.com


Multiplatform Or Cloud Based Collaborative Tools For Creative Work And Visually Focused Projects

Design teams can benefit from tools that will facilitate team and client communication to get sign-off on their creative projects and facilitate online collaborative design projects.

Screen sample from conceptboard.com


Galking Alexander suggests in his article 16 Best, Online Collaborative Design Apps for Creative Feedback and Client Sign-off to consider these features when looking for a collaborative tool for designers and creatives:


  • Intuitive Interface – Ease of use without having to spend time reading user manuals or tutorials.
  • Reviewing Tools – built in features to highlight the team’s creative work or make a visual comment, for instance: pointers, highlighters, shapes, etc.
  • Discussion and Commenting – Features to facilitate convenient discussion and prompt collaboration among team members and with clients or any other stakeholder.
  • Versioning – Options to revert previous editions of a creative file, enabling designers and their clients visually track the project’s work in progress.
  • Support for Multiple Formats – Support a wide variety of file formats for graphics, web design, mockups, and video files.
  • Sharing and Access Rights – Manage team member permissions for file access and editing.
  • Accessibility – Cloud or app based, multi platform access that only requires an Internet connection.
  • Affordability – From free to per user fee that are realistic for the needs of small and large teams.


Some collaborative tools available for creative teams to facilitate and manage creative projects workflow include:

Conceptshare , Cage app, Conceptboard, Framebench, Realtimeboard and more.



Mind Mapping As A Collaborative Tool


As digital technologies evolve, mind mapping continues to be a valuable team collaboration tool. Its simple structure allows software programs to easily create diagrams in a shared and collaborative environment. 

Mind map designers only have to input the definitions of the notions, set the structure, set the colors and a mind map diagram is set! The easiness of creating those types of diagrams contributes also to the easiness of manipulating them at the same time. Using these tools, teams have the ability to create and manipulate simultaneously a mind-mapping diagram and start visualizing a concept, project or problem. Each team member has an opportunity to contribute to a collaborative brainstorming activity to help visualize ideas and solutions.


What Is A Mind Map








Image source: http://etjune.brochure.examtime.com/files/2012/11/How-to-create-a-mind-map-mindmap.jpg


A mind map should include the following characteristics[iv]:

  • The main idea, subject or focus is crystallized in a central image.
  • The main themes radiate from the central image as 'branches'.
  • The branches comprise a key image or key word drawn or printed on its associated line.
  • Topics of lesser importance are represented as 'twigs' of the relevant branch.
  • The branches form a connected nodal structure.





                  Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MindMapGuidlines.svg


Creating mind maps requires no extraordinary skills. The only tools required are a paper and a pencil to draw names and lines is all that has to be drawn. Focus is given to identifying the main aspects of the main idea leaving aside any sophisticated artistic figures. An artistic touch though will make the diagram more interesting and easier to be acknowledged, but the goal here is only to represent all the correlated notions of the main idea.


Mind maps help take a project out of the individual’s focus into a collaboration environment when team members can visualize the project’s progress and demonstrate how usable a project is in its current state or different phases: from brainstorming, planning to development and evaluation.


Mind maps provide a collaborative tool for teams to:

  • Prioritize project features - Mind Maps help visually assess new ideas and prioritize them based on their relevance.
  • Plan test planning - Branches of a mind map can serve as self-contained test plans. Simply pick a few branches, write a test scenario around them, and you’re ready to test.
  • Keep focus on the story - Mind maps are focused on task, on actions, helping the team stay focused on the bigger picture and not on detailed specifications of a project.
  • Foresee worse case scenarios - Mind maps can make teams visualize the unexpected in the life cycle of a project and plan for potential solutions or workarounds.



Mind Mapping Origins

Image source: http://shapeofthought.typepad.com/.a/6a0115715f88d4970c0133f299f538970b-500wi


The origin of mind mapping comes way back from the 3rd century, from the ancient Phoenician philosopher Porphyry (234-305) (Wikipedia, Porphyry (philosopher), n.d.). While Porphyry was trying to analyze the enormous Aristotle’s (384 – 322 BC) work for nature classification, he depicted the notions of the greatest philosopher by using diagrams pretty similar with today’s mind mapping diagrams.


Similar techniques have been used by historical figures such as 13th century’s philosopher Ramon Llull, Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Winston Churchill, Walt Disne and the biggest scientist of all times Albert Einstein.


The British psychologist and author Tony Buzan, who is the inventor of mind mapping, defines Mind Mapping as “A diagrammatic method of representing ideas, with related concepts arranged around a core concept”. So, the team members can use mind-mapping diagrams to depict concepts or even projects and represent what those ideas and concepts are about in depth.


Mind mapping is a technique to depict concepts and notions in a visual way. It provides a strong framework to represent ideas in a hierarchical prospective. Mind Mappings are a sub category of the semantic network diagrams, which conists of similar types of diagrams to serve the same goal.

A mind map can be used to represent tasks, words, concepts, or items linked to and arranged around a central concept or subject.[ii]


 By using a non-linear graphical layout that allows the user to build an intuitive framework around a central concept, mind maps can turn long lists of monotonous information into a colorful, memorable and highly organized diagrams that work in line with our brain's natural way of doing things. [iii]



Back To Collaborative Visualization and Mindmapping





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