Multilevel Concept Maps or Diagrams

A problem while working with 2D graphics, in the style of big concept maps or other kind of diagrams, is that when the matter is complex, they can become a problem to navigate  and edit them like in the next very cluttered map:

This is unavoidable if you need to show (or print) the map as single unit.

However, with the help of software, you can divide the map in hierarchically contained sub-maps, spanning multiple levels. Consider the next diagram, made with ThinkComposer, representing a simple aircraft design as an advanced concept map:

With this multilevel capability you can “compose” (or decompose) your ideas to any extent into a single document. Plus, notice that you can still connect nodes, not within the same view (map/diagram), by using Shortcuts that you can point/click to easily navigate to the original source.

Visual Languages

Next, an overview of some common practices and techniques for knowledge transfer: Visual Languages.

General Visual Languages of wide spectrum…

Concept Maps: Based on a question (e.g.: “what caused the 2008 financial crisis?”), depicts general knowledge about that topic using concepts and their relationships on a free graph layout.

 Sample Concept Map

Mind Maps: Organizes ideas and knowledge around a central topic on a radial (centered hierarchy) graph layout. They commonly uses various colors, images and curved lines for easy memorization.

Sample Mind Map

Entity-Relationship diagrams: On a business domain, depicts entities and thir relationship from a data modeling perspective.

Sample Entity-Relationship Diagram

Flowcharts: Depicts the logical steps for performing a task, considering processes, decisions, inputs, outputs, storing and their flow.

Sample Flowchart

Unified Modeling Language: A complex language for general modeling, mostly used on computer science related projects. It has various types of diagrams. The most popular are:

  • Use case diagrams: Represents the functional specification of a system. Shows the diverse functions to be executed, the relation with the actors involved and their dependencies.

 Sample UML Use Case Diagram

  • Class diagrams: Structural representation of an artifac in a static object-relational way. It depicts software elements (classes, interfaces, structures, events, etc.) and their relationships (associations, implementation, inheritance, etc.).

 Sample UML Class Diagram

  • Sequence diagrams: Represents the behavior of related components on the execution of a system (or subsystem). It shows the invocations, returns, paralellization, starts and stops of those participants.

Sample UML Sequence Diagram

Visual Languages for Specialized contexts…

Electronic Diagrams: Shows electronic components and their arrange on a circuit or board.

Sample Electronic Diagram

Chemical Diagrams: Shows the structural formula of chemical compounds at molecular level.

Sample Chemical Diagram

 Military Plan: Shows the planification for war movements. It considers direction, timing, type and strength of forces in the theater of operations.

Sample Military Plan

Maybe, for any human knowledge area, there are a visual language developed. Plus consider that many organizations have developed their own visual languages, and they are changing over time and evolve following the development on their industries or even creating new ones (e.g.: nanotech, genetic engineering). Such particular well focused dialects are called Domain Specific Languages.