All entries for Tuesday 22 November 2005

November 22, 2005

Research Techniques: Mapping a blog with RSS and MindManager

Having just completed a concept map covering all of my e-learning work, I am now turning my attention towards my philosophy research. Here again the MindManager application is proving invaluable and full of great features.

MindManager is the leading concept mapping tool. I have recently described it as the best piece of academic software I have ever used. In fact it is so good that we (as in the elab E-learning Advisor Team) are buying a site licence, and will soon make it available to everyone. I'll explain more in another entry soon. For now, here's a note on one particularly impressive feature.

As part of the process of creating a map of my research, I am trying to extract some order out of the 85 entries that I have written in my blog as part of my research process, all of which are tagged as philosophy_research . My starting point has been to list all of the books that I have read (or am currently reading), and which have contributed to those entries.

My next step is, for each of those books, to create a list of concepts, questions and issues covered. Fortunately, I have tagged my blog entries so that it is easy for me to get a list of entries relevant to each author. For example, there is a Deleuze list of entries. By looking at the titles of the entries in these lists, I can extract a list of key concepts. In some cases the title itself is insufficient, so I have to go and read the entries themselves.

MindManager has a really useful feature that can help with this: News Feed import. This can read an RSS description of a set of news entries in a news feed. A blog can be treated as such a news feed, and in fact Warwick Blogs provides such RSS descriptions. For example, see the url which gives an RSS description of my latest blog entries. More usefully, you can get an RSS description of a page listing all of your entries that are tagged with a specified keyword. For example, lists the latest 100 entries, starting with the most recent (0), that are tagged with the keyword "Guattari".

When one of these RSS feeds is imported into a MindManager map, you get an auto-generated list of the selected blog entry titles. For example:

From this I can see what aspects of the work of each writer I have taken an interest in.

This is just one of the features of MindManager that I use for my research, e-learning and personal life. Once we have the site licence in place and the software accessible to people, I will be running some seminars and workshops on it, similar to the popular introduction to concept mapping session that I recently ran for the IT Services Training Programme.

If you are interested in this, then please contact me and I will add you to my mailing list.

Baby Report: Vanity

Emma took this photo today whilst watching Lawrence playing with his antique Fisher Price activity board. He finds the mirror to be of particular interest.

"I'm just so beautiful, I can't stop looking in the mirror".