concept mapping


I just found an old print-out I did some years ago about "concept mapping". The webpage I printed back then dates around 1997 or so. It's funny to re-find such early influences and see how the same topics and concepts have been around much earlier in my life.

One very interesting concept in this text was the use of "multidimensional scaling" (MDS) to arrange concepts on a 2-dimensionsl grid (map). This one thing I read alot about in search-engine terms (clustering, VecorSpace etc), so I have a good understanding how it works.

Each concept/note will be rated for a number of criteria. These criteria can be few or many. Where they to be two criteria, one could directly use the ratings to arrange notes on a 2D grid. Each criteria is seen as a vector into a dimension.

Now with more than two criteria this is no longer possible to directly represent in 2D space, and using 3D does not really help much either. MDS is a way of 'reducing' the number of dimensions to two while still maintaining a high representation of the relative positions of notes in the original multidimensional space.

The manual way of using visual mapping tool like Tinderbox maps to "group" concepts/notes together is an intuitive form of doing this. We place notes close to each other that we feel are "related". Using a list of rated criteria and then applying MDS might be a good way to a) bring in some numerical facts and b) showing relations that might not be obvious to us.

Another technique that might benefit from these ideas is "Force Field Analysis" as applied to decision making...


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Martin Spernau
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