BiggerPlate, the world’s leading mind map gallery, recently added groups to its repertoire of services. Here’s a closer look at their capabilities, and how they will evolve in the near future. As they are currently configured, BiggerPlate groups now allow members to:
- Create your own groups and populate them with maps from the BiggerPlate gallery
- Join other groups to view the maps that other visual thinkers have curated
- Add maps to the groups of which you’re a member.
In a recent e-mail conversation, I asked site owner Liam Hughes a series of questions to help you better understand what these groups are, how you can benefit from them and what features he expects to add in the near future.
Chuck Frey: What was your goal in creating groups on BiggerPlate.com? What needs do they fill for visual mappers?
Liam Hughes: The primary goal was to give users of Biggerplate another intuitive way to arrange and navigate the mind map content on the site. In particular, we wanted a way for the content to be interpreted and organized according the interests of the member community. Giving our members the ability to create and curate collections of maps around particular subjects of interest seemed the best way to do this!
In terms of what needs they fill, I think the groups will help people to more fully see and understand how mapping is being used in situations and contexts that are particularly relevant to them. For example, if I’m a software tester, I can join the software testing group, and see how other software testers have been using mind mapping in their work, and this may inspire me to use the tools differently, or try mapping in a new context. We think contextual learning like this is invaluable, and a very powerful way for mappers to improve their use of mapping.
Frey: Your blog says “this is a great foundation upon which to build some amazing new features that are going to enable Biggerplate users to come together to share their experiences, learning, and mind maps around subjects that interest them.” How, specifically, will groups become a learning tool?
Hughes: Seeing how other people are using maps is extremely valuable in itself, but seeing how an IT Project Manager uses maps is perhaps of limited use/interest if I’m a 4th grade science teacher! However, if I can join (or create a group) for 4th Grade Science teachers, then bring together maps and other mappers around this subject, I will potentially learn a huge amount about how others are using maps in situations and contexts that are particularly relevant to me. That’s very useful learning, and a great way for us to build greater collective understanding of how maps can be used most effectively.
Frey: Can anyone create a group?
Hughes: Yes, anyone can create a group.
Frey: Have you been satisfied with their rate of growth so far?
Hughes: We’ve been really pleased with how this first beta phase has gone, and in particular, it has been very exciting to see such variety in the groups that people have created. There are already over 80 groups on the site, covering a very wide range of interests, and even though the groups are still fairly basic, people are joining up and helping to build the collection of maps within them. It’s been very encouraging, and has confirmed that we are correct to make this a core focus for this year.
Frey: What other capabilities are planned?
Hughes: First and foremost, we’ll be working on making Groups more visible throughout the site, so that you are more able to discover them, and engage with them as you move around the library. Following on from that, we will be working to make it easy to navigate content within groups, and find groups of particular interest to you. On a slightly longer time-table, you can expect to see greater options for group control (closed vs open groups for example) and more ways to see and keep up with new content and activity within your groups. We’re also looking closely at the best ways to enable members to interact within groups, and the jury is still out on what exactly that will involve, but you can expect to see improvement in how you can engage with other group members.
Frey: Will there be any support for discussing maps contained in groups, or one-to-one messaging between members?
Hughes: At the moment, we’ve got a Facebook comments feed in each group so that people can have discussion within a group about the map content if they wish. Over time, we will be looking at building more complete discussion capabilities, primarily to allow more ‘thread’ based discussions to take place with the group. As mentioned, we’re still assessing what the best ways to do this might be, so it’s a little further down the line, as is one-to-one messaging.
Frey: Is there anything else my readers should know about BiggerPlate Groups?
Hughes: The most important point is that groups can help you find mind map content that you may not otherwise have discovered on the site. It has already helped to bring some ‘buried’ content back to the surface, and I’m seeing maps that I had previously forgotten about or had not seen before which is exactly the purpose! The Groups are a major focus for us this year, and we are looking to build these into something that enables mappers to engage with each other around map content in relation to a particular subject. You can therefore expect to see fairly regular updates and improvements being made, and an increasing focus on enabling the mind mappers of the world to engage more directly with each other to share their content and experiences of mapping. It’s worth getting involved now, so you can be part of the journey as it evolves!