Biggerplate.com recently launched a new feature it calls Collections, which allows users to save useful or interesting mind maps and webinars into curated lists. This makes this hub of mind mapping content and learning significantly more valuable, because it enables you to assemble the resources that are most relevant for your own research or reference as well as to share with others.
I recently interviewed founder Liam Hughes to learn more about the thinking behind collections and the benefits they offer to users of the Biggerplate website.
Chuck Frey: What are Biggerplate Collections?
Liam Hughes: Our new Collections feature enables members to gather together mind maps and webinar content that they discover on Biggerplate into public “Collections” on their Biggerplate profile. Think about it like creating Spotify or YouTube playlists… but for mind mapping resources!
Hughes: Since launching in 2008, Biggerplate has grown into a big resource library, and with that scale comes a few challenges. Some excellent mind map templates and examples were being lost in the library almost as soon as they were shared. Similarly, we had fantastic PRO webinar replays that were simply not being discovered. Basically, some of the best and most helpful resources on Biggerplate were largely hidden!
While there are technical improvements that can help with this challenge (for example, we have improved the website search and tag functions), we also saw an opportunity to harness the power and knowledge of our community members by giving them the power to identify and showcase the content that they felt deserved attention, whether it is content they have shared themselves, or content from others they have discovered.
Collections is a big breakthrough in bringing community curation to Biggerplate, and enabling our members to create spaces on the website that reflect their interests, expertise, language preferences, software preferences and more. All collections are public, and as such, any collection that a member creates for their own benefit will also benefit other members, by surfacing and showcasing mind maps and webinars that may not otherwise have been spotted.
Frey: Biggerplate.com now contains over 17,000 mind maps and over 100 webinars to date. Why has it become so important for members of your site to be able to bookmark the content that’s most relevant or useful to them for future reference?
Hughes: I think there’s certainly a ‘save for later’ benefit to the Collections feature, particularly when it comes to the PRO webinars. It’s not always practical to sit down and watch a 45-60 minute webinar replay at the exact moment you discover it, and so being able to simply add it to a “Watch Later” Collection that you’ve created means it’s not lost, and you can come back to view it when you have a chance.
The same principle applies to mind maps, where you start using the Collections feature to save maps you discover, but don’t necessarily need to download or use right now. As an example, perhaps you drop some helpful mind maps into a ‘Jobs & Career” collection, even if you’re not immediately planning a job/career change. Maybe you have an idea for a novel that you plan to write in retirement… why not save any interesting maps you discover into a “Books & Writing” collection that might help and inspire you when you’re ready to begin!
Frey: Do you need to be a Biggerplate PRO member to utilize collections?
Hughes: All Basic (free) members on Biggerplate get a “Favorites” Collection included with their membership, which provides a way for them to save maps and webinars that they like in one place. However, if a member wants to create more Collections, they need to upgrade to PRO membership, which enables them to create an unlimited number.
It’s worth making clear however that the entire community benefits from any Collection created, regardless of whether they are PRO or Basic members. For example, if I (as a PRO member) create a Collection called Creativity and Innovation then this is visible to everyone, and helps to showcase maps and webinars for anyone to explore on the website!
Frey: Members can create multiple collections, correct? How does that make them especially useful? I can picture people creating them for different projects, goals and life roles, for example.
Hughes: Absolutely correct, and this was critical to the thinking behind this feature. PRO members can create unlimited number of Collections, and we can see members already making great use of this freedom. As you suggest, someone might create Collections that align specifically with aspects of their life, for example, a Collection for each of “Business”, “Studying”, and “Personal”.
In addition, the ability to create multiple collections really opens up opportunities for members to curate content focused on much more specific areas, based on expertise, software preference, or language. For example, a Project Manager may choose to create one Collection focused on “PMBOK Mind Maps” and another Collection focused on “Agile Project Management,” each containing mind maps and webinars with slightly different focus, even though they are both project management focused. Alternatively, a bi-lingual member might create a “Project Management” Collection in English (containing English mind maps and webinars), and a second Collection for French content.
We have some amazingly active members on Biggerplate who will do a much better job of curating maps and webinars into a varied selection of Collections than we ever could, and it’s hugely exciting to see that happening already!
Frey: What are some of the most creative or inspiring ways PRO members are using collections to get more out of Biggerplate.com?
Hughes: Perhaps our favorite use of the Collections feature (so far) is a member who has been researching and creating mind maps about every one of Shakespeare’s plays, and sharing his learning with classmates. Graham0921 created 41 mind maps, and also did a webinar for us about his Shakespeare project, which concluded at about the same time as we launched our Collections feature. Graham immediately saw the potential in the Collections functionality, and put all of his Shakespeare content into a Shakespeare Mind Maps collection, meaning he now has a single website link to share with classmates and colleagues containing all of the mind maps (and his webinar) that he wants them to review.
What’s more, his Collection is amazingly useful to anyone on Biggerplate with an interest in Shakespeare! We could not have articulated a better use case than this!
Frey: I think it’s quite significant that PRO members can not only curate their favorite mind maps but also the knowledge that’s most valuable to them. How does including both in collections make this service even more valuable, in your opinion?
Hughes: Including a single ‘Favorites’ collection as a default for both our Basic (free) and PRO members is a great way to help people understand and get started with the Collections functionality, to simply save content that they particularly like. For most members, this will be helpful and sufficient for their own needs.
However, as you suggest, the real power for the individual member comes with creating additional Collections on topics of interest, so that they can gather together the knowledge and information that exists on Biggerplate into specific Collection. In doing so, they’re harnessing knowledge shared by a diverse community, and curating it in some way that helps you (and potentially) others to better understand a subject and the different ways of exploring and representing it using mind maps. We think that is an incredibly powerful way to showcase the highly varied uses of mind mapping tools and techniques, all led by our members!
Frey: What’s next for Biggerplate.com?
Hughes: The Collections project will continue to develop in the year ahead, so that the Collections themselves become more visible through the website. This will involve firstly adding some functions such as Tagging, and then building out a searchable, browsable library for Collections.
In broader terms, there are a few strategic priorities for 2021 that will keep us busy, including the continuation of our ambitious localization plans for the website (translating the website into multiple languages), an expansion of the resource types available on Biggerplate, and a (long-overdue) improvement to the accounts and profile areas of Biggerplate.