Pervasive Computing

How ubiquitous, embedded, transparent and animated can the internet gets and what will happen then.  That was the topic of the plenary session at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Law Libraries last Wednesday.  It’s adapted from the article Jerry Kang, the presenter (a UCLA law professor), co-wrote with an architecture professor:

Jerry Kang and Dana Cuff, Pervasive Computing: Embedding the Public Sphere, 62 Washington and Lee Law Review 93 (2005).

I enjoyed his presentation a lot, but could not help being distracted by the fabulous software program he used in his presentation.  Instead of using the rather static PowerPoint, he used a software called MindManager.  He typed as he expanded his themes, showing the context of his ideas.  He uses this program in his teaching as well.  It looks like it is a great teaching and presentation tool as you can save the thinking process for your students or your audience.  Something to check out in addition to the "brave new worlds" he suggested in his article. 


  1. We’ve been using this software for about 6 years to try and organize ideas and then demonstrate them graphically. One can get an entire hour presentation onto a single page. My piece on 25 Trends to watch is illustrated by a graphic originally done using the software.

    The projection slides around the various branches of the tree – it is a little more static than high-end PPT, without the ability to embed applications, video and sound.

    I’ve also introduced a number of journalists to the software, which they ise for major investigaive journalism projects or for books. They did extensive comparative research and reckoned the MindManager software was superior.

    I’d be happy to post some examples of how we have used it for complex idea development.

    The major drawback to the software is the relatively high expense – I think it’s something like $299.

    There is a fine freeware version done in Germany which is almost as good – called Freemind.

    Had I been near a PC instead of on a plane two weeks back I would have proposed that we use the software as a way of collaborating on the logical structure for

    Simon C

  2. As Simon Chester says, this sort of software has been around for a long time — getting better all the while, though. I’ve used Freemind, and think it’s okay to do some basic stuff with, though it’s slow because it’s Java and a bit unstable.

    Generally called “mind mapping,” I guess, this approach is claimed by AustralianTony Buzan as his invention of the 1960’s — though how anyone could claim to have invented a doodle where blobs are connected by lines is beyond me.

    A decent less expensive alternative to MindManager is Visual Mind. They have a couple of versions: the business edition costs US$199 and the basic edition costs US$89. It may be that for libraries they’ll have an educational discount. MindMapper is another similar application that is less pricey.

    But if you really want to get into nifty mapping software, take a look at dynamic mapping applications that let you shift the centre of your attention and bring various clusters of associations into focus depending on what you’ve chosen. The most popular manifestation of this is the VisualThesaurus. (Aren’t you tired of names that run two words together — or don’t, depending — and force you to figure out which it is in each and every case?) It used to be free to play with on line, but now you’ll only get a truncated demo; but it’s still interesting, if you’ve not seen this sort of thing before. A company called TheBrain offers software that lets you construct your own dynamic mind maps, and, logically, uses a version of it as the navigational tool on their site, so you can see there how it works.

    I find these dynamic maps, buggy though they are, less hierarchical than those produced by the other tools.