KM, GTD on The Brain

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006
A fascinating day at the KMWorld Knowledge Management Conference! I came looking for tools for knowledge visualization and Personal Knowledge Management and I 'm not disappointed.


One of the tools that I've looked at off and on over the years is TheBrain by The Brain Technologies. Tonight, I had a fascinating conversation with CTO and Co-Founder, Harlan Hugh and Shelley Hayduk (VP Mktg & Sales). We discussed the genesis for TheBrain and how Harlan came to design the brain 15 years ago, based on the associative thought process of the brain. For those of you into mind mapping, TheBrain is not your traditional mind-mapping/diagramming tool - at least not in the sense of the Buzan model or MindJet's MindManager.

I see TheBrain more as a tool for visualizing nonlinear associative knowledge links in real-time. Knowledge taxonomies can be built and shared and tools can be used to crawl through existing knowledgebases to display the results in a map. At least, that's my current take, based on my current understanding.


One of the topics we discussed is the idea of using TheBrain as a system for David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology. According to Harlan, many GTDers have told him that they use TheBrain as their organizing and information management tool. I'm not sure this [the organizing part] would work for my own work-style, but I certainly see the benefit of using TheBrain as a real-time dashboard for my existing eProductivity knowledgebases. (Here's a link to an interesting thread on TheBrain on David Allen's blog last year.) If you're actively using TheBrain, either as a tool for GTD or as Personal Knowledge Management system, I would like to hear about your implementation.

I'm still trying to wrap my brain around all of this (OK, pun intended) and I know that I have much to learn. As I do, I'll post my thoughts here. I'm heading back to the conference tomorrow. Perhaps I can get Harlan or Shelley to join me for an eProductivity podcast on knowledge visualization.

Discussion/Comments (6):

KM, GTD on The Brain

And I thought "KM" stood for "Kathy Mack", especially since you've just had your 50th wedding anniversary for the 17th time!

Posted at 11/01/2006 13:25:44 by Michael Sampson

KM, GTD on The Brain

Have you seen or tried 3D Topicscape { Link } It was designed for storing information of all types but using a mindmapping or concept mapping approach. Each topic can hold many files, so if you've got a six-page article from the Web, they can all go in one node (the Brain needs a new node for each page). It allows topic re-use as well. It is a relatively new product and is developing fast.

Posted at 11/03/2006 21:18:02 by Argey

KM, GTD on The Brain


Regarding knowledge visualization I can recommend Prof. Martin J. Eppler as an expert (see his web site: { Link } ) and his tool Let's Focus ({ Link }

Best regards,


Posted at 11/06/2006 2:52:15 by Aeschi

KM, GTD on The Brain

I have used The Brain a lot and I think GTD is a very good application for it. It is not comparable to "mind mapping" because of the difficulty of getting the big picture and having a sense of location. But it is ideal for a highly structured problem where there are clearly defined places to put things. The GTD lists would fit well into this.

Posted at 11/07/2006 12:26:53 by Nick Duffill

KM, GTD on The Brain

No Mac support. Meh!

Posted at 11/28/2006 8:42:25 by Reality Bytes

KM, GTD on The Brain

PB4 (PersonalBrain 4), currently in Beta, supports Windoes 98 through Vista, Mac OSX, and Linux. There is a very active forum for the Beta at { Link }

Posted at 05/31/2007 17:35:38 by Sam COx

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