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Biggerplate acquires Mappio.com

One of the major announcements I'll be making today at Biggerplate Unplugged in Utrecht is our successful acquisition of popular mind map library Mappio.com earlier this year, and our plans to re-build and re-design it as a dedicated gallery for hand-drawn mind maps!
This is a significant and exciting strategic move by Biggerplate that has several positive implications, so I thought I would try and outline what it means for the Biggerplate community, existing members of Mappio.com, and the wider world of mind mapping in general!

What is Mappio.com?

Mappio is an online mind map gallery, originally launched just a few months before the first version of Biggerplate, way back in September 2007. The site hosts an impressive collection of maps, and has proven to be very popular over a number of years, both in terms of web traffic, and general activity on the site. There are currently a few different mind map formats supported on the site, including old MindManager versions, hand-drawn jpegs, freemind, and a proprietary format developed specifically for Mappio.

The site has not seen a great deal of development over the last couple of years, and as such, has not really kept pace with the mapping world or Biggerplate. It has however continued to perform strongly in terms of web traffic and user engagement, so is therefore a great acquisition for Biggerplate, with huge potential for growth and improvement!

Why buy Mappio.com?

At our London conference earlier this year, we were asked by a number of participants why Biggerplate did not really cater for hand-drawn mind maps, and what (if anything) could be done about it? At the time, we did not really have a satisfactory answer!

We went away and thought hard about this question, because the key point was a valid one - there were loads of mind mappers out there who chose not to use software, and perhaps many more who didn't get a choice, because their access to technology (computers, internet, software) may be far more restricted than our own. There are also those who use a blend of software and hand-drawn mapping, depending on the context. The conclusion was that we were missing the chance to engage with a much wider community of mind mappers, and we needed to take action!

We still believe hand-drawn and digital maps should be kept separate (ie. not be displayed in the same search results, or library categories etc), and as such, we still think Biggerplate.com needs to retain a pure focus on digital mind maps. The solution therefore seemed to be the creation of a new site dedicated purely to hand-drawn mind maps. After thoroughly evaluating that option, we realised a preferable approach would be the acquisition and re-purposing of an existing site that has a recognised name, established web and SEO metrics, and an existing community of engaged users. Mappio was the obvious candidate, and we were delighted to engage with the site's owner to reach an agreement on purchasing the entire site, which was completed in April 2013.

So what happens now?

Since completing the takeover earlier this year, we have had Mappio in an incubation phase, where we have been taking time to assess the architecture, understand the mechanics of the site, and scope out how to successfully re-design it as a dedicated gallery for hand-drawn mappers. We have also been considering the best way to make Mappio a complimentary addition to the Biggerplate ecosystem, in order to ensure the Biggerplate community benefits from this acquisition, and also that existing members of Mappio can benefit from what Biggerplate provides both as a website and a brand.

There are a few key steps that we are currently mapping out, and work is already underway...

Step One: Create a single login and user database

We think someone who signs up at Mappio.com should be able to login at Biggerplate with the same details, and vice-versa. We don't want to make you sign up for two sites, so our first priority is the creation of a single integrated database and login system that works across both sites, meaning you'll be able to upload, download, comment, rate, and generally engage on both sites with one easy-to-use mind mapper identity!
We think that's going to be pretty cool, especially for those who use both hand-drawn and digital mapping!

Step Two: Rebuild Mappio to replicate Biggerplate architecture

If you spend a bit of time clicking around Mappio, you'll realise pretty quick that it is not built the same way as Biggerplate, and (to be frank) it needs a lot of work to bring it up to the standard that we have set at Biggerplate! The good news is, we know a thing or two about building mind map libraries, and our plan is to largely replicate the Biggerplate site architecture and mechanics, but ensuring the software specific features and content is stripped out, in order to ensure the site is easy to use and understand. The beauty of having a dedicated site for hand-drawn maps, is that we can get rid of all the surrounding information about software names, file types, and general tech stuff that is required for Biggerplate.com. The result should be a nice clean and clear site, where the only content you'll see will be lovely images of the hand-drawn maps shared by users!

This will be a BIG piece of work, especially as it will need to happen at the same time as yet more exciting development work at Biggerplate.com! The great news is that by largely replicating the Biggerplate architecture and systems on Mappio, any future development on one site, will be easily integrated into the other , meaning Mappio can look forward to an exciting future of development momentum to match Biggerplate!

Step Three: Enjoy

Our goal at Biggerplate is (and always has been) to be the best source of mind mapping content, learning, and community in the world. The acquisition of Mappio hopefully signals to the hand-drawn mapping community that we are very serious about engaging with them more, and building something really special that is totally focused on their style of mind mapping. Adding hand-drawn maps to Biggerplate.com would actually have been relatively easy (in terms of technical and financial requirements), but we felt that would have been an unsatisfactory solution for all involved, by overlooking the uniqueness of both formats, and the different ways in which people engage with the different types of content. We believe hand-drawn maps deserve somewhere that is designed and built specifically for them, and that is why we have gone with the more difficult, but ultimately more rewarding approach of acquiring, and re-building Mappio as a dedicated gallery for hand-drawn maps.

I hope you will agree this is a significant and exciting development for the mind mapping world, and a serious statement of intent by Biggerplate: We're investing in the long-term growth and development of the mind mapping arena, and we intend to play a key part in helping mapping reach more people than ever before. We believe the first step in achieving this, is a more connected mind map community. Once we get Mappio.com up to scratch, we will have taken another big step forward in bringing together the global mind mapping community on a larger scale than ever before. We can't wait!

Wishing you all the very best!

Liam Hughes
Founder: Biggerplate.com (and proud new owner of Mappio.com!)

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Liam is the founder of Biggerplate.com, and tries (with varying success) to write about key projects and progress at Biggerplate, as well as the wider world of mind mapping and our place within it.
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