The Idea Shuffler Blog Page

Write Better with the Idea Shuffler

Write Better with the Idea Shuffler

A new video has been put on the Applications page of ideashuffler.com. This video describes how to write better using the “Idea Shuffler” software. The main focus of the video is prewriting, including diagramming, brainstorming, free writing, and information collection. Prewriting is the things you do before you start writing. However, typically you will go back to prewriting during other phases of your writing project because you find that you need some new ideas. The “Idea Shuffler” applies to all writing genres including fiction and nonfiction.

The “Idea Shuffler” creates diagrams that are easy to understand for both hierarchical and nonhierarchical associations among concepts. Most diagram techniques do not handle nonhierarchical associations well. This is a big advantage for the “Idea Shuffler” because most writing requires some nonhierarchical associations.

The “Idea Shuffler” proprietary shuffle algorithm reorganizes diagrams of your ideas, making them easy to understand and giving you new ideas. A diagram with just 10 concepts has 3,628,800 possible diagrams. A diagram with 14 concepts has 87,178,291,200 possible diagrams. That is why optimizing the diagram organization is a job for the computer, not for you doing it manually. The shuffled diagram gives you an order to follow in your writing that naturally flows.

The “Idea Shuffler” provides single click documentation options. Documents can be created for every diagram, accessible by clicking the “Document” button on the main user input window. A document is accessible for every concept by right clicking the concept. Documentation gives you the ability to further describe diagrams and concepts and gives you the ability to add internet links, pictures, or other resources to every diagram and concept of your model. These documents support and organize free writing and information collection.

So give the “Idea Shuffler” a try on your next writing project.

Posted in Concept Maps, Idea Shuffler, Idea Shuffler How-To, Videos, Writing Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Writer’s Block and the Idea Shuffler

Writer’s Block and the Idea Shuffler

If you write, you have experienced writer’s block. Google this disorder, to find many famous people, who share your experience. Maybe such knowledge will comfort you, but if you’re ready to address the problem with something other than psychotherapy or pharmaceuticals, read on.

Writing is hard work. Run from anyone who tells you otherwise. Writing  isn’t hard  due to complexity. The process involves only a few steps: pondering the topic, selecting some ideas to develop, and committing the ideas to paper with a pen/pencil, typewriter, or word processor. The writer, who knows the value of  an unfettered imagination, sticks to these few steps.

The Idea Shuffler is a diagramming tool used to create ideas and associations among ideas. With the Idea Shuffler the mechanics of diagramming are simple. You may be familiar with mind maps or concept maps. The Idea Shuffler is neither of these. This tool is nonhierarchical, which means the writer can put down thoughts with no restriction in order or sequence.  Simply open a new diagram, click on “Add Concept,” and type in a thought or idea. The first thought may be the subject of whatever you are writing. The verbal representation should be short, a word or two. Usually, another idea will come to mind after typing in the first thought. Keep typing new ideas( concepts) until you see how some are related. When an association between two concepts becomes apparent, draw a line from one to the other using the cursor. Once the ideas are connected, a box will pop up asking for a label for the association. Creating a label will force you to think because the label must be concise. As you type concepts and label associations, you begin an intense internal search of your subject—a rewarding experience in which the mechanics of what you’re doing recede.

After typing in your last concept and last association label, you can click the “Shuffle” button to be presented with a suggested order of concepts. You will probably be pleasantly surprised. The new order may give you some new ideas for concepts and associations. By the time you complete your Idea Shuffler diagram, the content will be visually represented in you mind. Now you can walk away, leaving your brain to mull over your creation. At odd moments, you may find yourself composing what you’re going to write. The Idea Shuffler is amazing. Try it!

Note: This article assumes some familiarity with the basic operation of the Idea Shuffler. If you are not familiar with it, watch the  “Idea Shuffler Overview: Visual Thinking with Diagrams” video on YouTube or go to www.ideashuffler.com and click on the “Watch Overview Video” button.

Posted in Idea Shuffler How-To, Writing Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Idea Shuffler Documentation

Idea Shuffler Documentation

Just a reminder, don’t forget to use Idea Shuffler documentation to supplement your diagrams. It is quick and easy to use.

Documentation is opened with a single click. Left click the “Document” button on the “Main” user input window to open the document associated with the displayed diagram. If the document does not exist, a blank document will be opened. The document associated with a diagram uses the same name as the diagram.

Right click a concept on the model diagram and the document associated with the concept will open. If the document does not exist, a blank document will be opened. The document associated with a concept uses the same name as the concept. Accessing documentation is that simple.

Note: The document is opened with the windows application associated with an “rtf” file extension. Always close an open document before continuing with the diagram.

Posted in Idea Shuffler, Idea Shuffler How-To Tagged with: , ,

Hello world

Hello world

Posted in Uncategorized

Idea Shuffler Version 6.23 Released

Idea Shuffler Version 6.23 Released

Idea Shuffler Version 6.23 has just been released, replacing Version 6.22.

The following changes were made. Some of the user input windows have been reorganized for easier use and the capability to handle a wider range of display sizes and resolutions. The following changes were made to ensure diagram changes made by the user are saved: 1) Exiting the “Idea Shuffler” with the “x” in the upper left hand corner of a user input window has been disabled; 2) The displayed diagram is always saved when you exit the “Idea Shuffler” with the “Exit” button on the main user input window. In addition, a couple of minor software bugs were fixed.

The “Idea Shuffler” is a unique diagramming tool that lets you represent both hierarchical and non-hierarchical structures. Note: Concept maps and mind maps only represent hierarchical structures well. It automatically organizes your ideas (concepts) with a proprietary shuffle algorithm so you don’t have to worry about the location of concepts. It provides layers of interconnected diagrams that accommodate large models and separate documents for every diagram and concept. The “Idea Shuffler” is the only software out there that gives you all of these features.

If you are not currently using the “Idea Shuffler,” give it a try. There is a free download and a paid version at http://www.ideashuffler.com.

The “Idea Shuffler” could really change how you do things.

Posted in Idea Shuffler, Idea Shuffler News

Idea Shuffler Version 6.22 Released

Idea Shuffler Version 6.22 Released

The “Idea Shuffler” is a unique diagramming tool that lets you represent both hierarchical and non-hierarchical structures. It automatically organizes your ideas (concepts) with a proprietary shuffle algorithm so you don’t have to worry about the location of concepts. It provides layers of interconnected diagrams that accommodate large models and separate documents for every diagram and concept. The “Idea Shuffler” is the only software out there that gives you all of these features.

Idea Shuffler Version 6.22 has just been released, replacing Version 6.15.

Now you can have a movable note with 10 lines instead of the 6 line limit in Version 6.15. Also, the maximum length of the lines is longer. In addition, a couple of minor software bugs were fixed.

If you are not currently using the “Idea Shuffler,” give it a try. There is a free download  and a paid version at http://www.ideashuffler.com.

The “Idea Shuffler” could really change how you do things.

Posted in Idea Shuffler, Idea Shuffler News

Character, Clarity, and the Shuffle

 Character, Clarity, and the Shuffle

In Style: The art of writing well, first published in 1955 and more recently in 2012, F. L.  Lucas wrote: “Literary style is simply a means by which one personality moves others.” Think about it. Isn’t moving others what every writer wants to do? Of course it is. So what’s the secret to moving others?

No charlatan, Lucas never stood in front of his students at Oxford to tell them his one-two-three, success-guaranteed, steps for affecting the minds or hearts of readers. He said, style is “personality clothed in words, character embodied in speech.” If a writer is boring, petty, judgmental, miserly, incurious, shallow—name the shortcoming—his writing will reveal the defects.

Skeptical of the importance of personality/character in writing? Enroll in a writing class. Soon, the teacher will bring up the topic of voice. Aspiring writers are encouraged to write in a strong voice. I’ve listened to a few teachers talk about voice, but no one mentioned the subject of personality or character. All the instruction about voice I received resembled a 2006 cartoon by Sidney Harris. In Harris’s masterpiece, two scientists are standing before a blackboard with a formula going from one side to the other. In the middle of the numbers and symbols a sentence appears: “Then a miracle occurs.” One scientist points to the sentence and says, “I think you should be more explicit here in step two.”

Lucas is the only person I’ve read or listened to who draws our attention to the obvious. (He mentions others, including, Aristotle, Polonius, Napoleon—yes, the General—and more.) Where else would a writer’s voice, strong or weak, come from but the depths of his personality?  Ask any psychologist and she will tell you the source of personality is character.

Okay, assume one writes with a strong voice, what next? Lucas’s second principle of style is clarity. I can’t offer any advice about character or personality, but I can help with clarity. The Idea Shuffler (IS) is a diagramming tool designed to promote clear, logical thought: the basis of clarity. Initially, I responded to the idea of writing from a diagram with: “Oh, no. That’s not how I write.”

A diagram is structured and restrictive, which is incompatible with creativity, or so I thought. Thus I couldn’t be persuaded to try writing from a diagram.

Couldn’t be persuaded until one day a lawyer asked me to compose a declaration for a twenty-year-old criminal case. (Did I mention I’m a psychologist?) The defendant had a complex family history, several incarcerations, and had been evaluated by three psychologists on separate occasions spread over seven years. Of course, the professionals couldn’t agree on one diagnosis. To complicate the task further, two versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders were in use during the period in which the defendant was evaluated. A third version was in use at the time I wrote the declaration. The lawyer wanted to know whether any diagnoses pinned to the defendant would hold, if criteria from the latest version of the Manual were applied. (Each Manual contained more than eight hundred pages.)

The way the lawyer who hired me saw it, everything could be compressed under three categories—about a page per category. The lawyer’s take made sense until I started sorting through the material. Maybe a good note-taking app would rescue me. Evernote kept popping up so I downloaded the free version. As I studied how to use the app, Ron Isaacson suggested IS would be easier to master and more useful than Evernote. “Fine,” I said, more than a little testy.

Overwhelmed by the task of writing the declaration, I considered IS. I started a diagram with the three concepts the lawyer wanted covered. I pondered the three, then more concepts came to me, and with little effort five more concepts popped into my head.  Next, I began connecting some concepts, using lines labeled to identify the associations among concepts. For example, two concepts, Defendant’s Survival Strategy and Exposure to Domestic Violence, were connected. The association was labeled “initiated.” The two concepts and the association between them expressed the idea that exposure to domestic violence initiated the defendant’s survival strategy. By looking at the diagram, a reader could grasp the link between the two concepts in the context of the whole.

I find the experience of creating a diagram intense, but orderly. I begin with what seems a blank mind, but concepts pop into my head. Sometimes I realize I will need more than one diagram to cover all the concepts in my mind. IS accommodates multiple diagrams. Double left click on a concept, and a new diagram will appear using the title of the concept as a heading. If I want to include written material pertinent to a concept, I right click on a concept, and I’m delivered to a blank page where I can paste material or write original text. Links to online videos and articles can appear on a document page.

The IS diagram for the declaration included twenty-two separate word documents of multiple pages layered under the main diagram.  Additional diagrams representing new ideas associated with the original concepts formed more layers. Different clicks on the mouse brought up layers. The layers revealed the complexity of the declaration assignment.  Show me a note-taking app worthy of this challenge.

My first draft of the declaration consisted of twenty-four pages—many pages, but easy to put together because of the organization provided by IS and the availability of copy/paste. I gathered far more information than needed. The next step: eliminating unnecessary material. The lawyer grew impatient and wanted to review my work product.

He said nothing, but must have winced at the length of the first draft. He put the draft into a declaration format and returned it to me. That he left most of the document intact surprised me. The request to review my rough work irritated me, but each of us benefited from the action. He gave me the gift of time by identifying text important to him, so I didn’t labor over refining useless text. By reviewing the whole of what I expressed, he gained insight into my logic. Because of the thought poured into the diagram, the declaration was clear and compelling. An interested party with too many demands on her time—the judge—could easily digest the declaration, even though the legal document rested on a mound of complexity.[1]

So when faced with an overwhelming writing task, I opened my mind to IS, and a miracle happened: I produced a well-written, perhaps effective declaration. What about essays and fiction pieces? Using IS, I’ve written several published essays, and I’m revising a short novel self-published on Amazon. Before writing this blog article, I created a diagram as a guide. The act of creating a diagram stimulates ideas and associations among ideas. IS supports imagination and provides the structure necessary for lucidity, two elements every writer counts on.

Now the Shuffle. At its best, science sometimes hints of magic. With all the concepts chosen and the associations in place, the designer may click the Shuffle button. The screen erupts into flashing concepts and association lines as various arrangements of objects flicker by. Depending on the number of concepts, millions or many billions of arrangements are possible. (Ten concepts have over three point six million possible arrangements; fourteen concepts have over eighty-seven billion possibilities.) When the Shuffle stops, the result may lead to new insight. The kid in me loves to hit the Shuffle button because the result is a mystery unfolding before my eyes. The adult loves the button because of the possibility of a new way of seeing something. Sometimes the Shuffle confirms my original perspective, and confirmation can be comforting even when the comforter is a robot.

Give IS a try, and write to me about your experience.

[1] I can’t tell you how this story ends because this life and death saga isn’t over yet. When a final decision is made, I’ll update readers on this web site.

 

Posted in Idea Shuffler, Writing Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Calculus Concept Maps and Videos

Calculus Concept Maps and Videos

This article shows how to learn or review Calculus using “Idea Shuffler” diagrams with links to Khan Academy videos. The diagrams and videos cover what is typically called “Differential Calculus” (Calculus I), “Integral Calculus” (Calculus II), and “Multivariable Calculus” (Calculus III).

Getting Started:

  1. Watch the video in this blog post. Note: The video covers getting started and walks you through using the Calculus model.
  2. Download the Calculus model (zip file) by clicking the “Download Now!” button on this blog post.
  3. Extract the zip file into a folder of your choice.
  4. If you don’t have “Idea Shuffler” Software:
    1. Download the free or paid version from ideashuffler.com.
    2. Install the “Idea Shuffler” software.
  5. Open the “Idea Shuffler” software by double-clicking the “Idea Shuffler” desktop icon.
  6. Load the Calculus.vcat file using the “Idea Shuffler” “Load Model” button. The file is located at ..Calculus/Models/Calculus.vcat. Note: The “Idea Shuffler” software will not open when you double-click a file with a “vcat” extension. You always have to use the “Load Model” button.
  7. Now, you’re on your way to learning Calculus.


Note: For better viewing, after starting the video set the quality of the video to “720p HD” by clicking on the quality icon (little gear) and then go to full screen.

Download the Calculus Model:

Note: Go to ideashuffler.com for more information and videos about the “Idea Shuffler.”

Posted in Concept Maps, Idea Shuffler, Math, Videos Tagged with: , , ,

Install Idea Shuffler Software

Install Idea Shuffler Software

There have been some questions concerning installation of the “Idea Shuffler” software. I hope this video will answer any questions you have.

Note: For better viewing, after starting the video set the quality of the video to “720p HD” by clicking on the quality icon (little gear) and then go to full screen.

Posted in Concept Maps, Idea Shuffler How-To, Videos

The Flow of Money Through an Economy

The Flow of Money Concept Map

This video uses the “Idea Shuffler,” a unique type of concept map, as an aid in explaining the flow of money through an economy. The “Circular Flow of Money” is a basic economic concept that is focused on in the video. Associations with other concepts are also presented.

Note: For better viewing, after starting the video set the quality of the video to “720p HD” by clicking on the quality icon (little gear) and then go to full screen.

The “Idea Shuffler” can be used for any application: students, teachers, any business, any profession, and for personal use.

Posted in Concept Maps, Economics, Videos