I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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Dubberly Design concept mapsMy friends at Dubberly Design Office (DDO) have just posted a small sample of concept maps they’ve designed within the last 7 years. Each map takes a difficult–almost mystical–subject and attempts to rigorously map out its many complexities and relationships. There are six maps, each answering one of the following questions:

  1. What is Java technology and its community?
  2. How does the Domain Name System (DNS) work?
  3. What is a brand?
  4. How do organizations track customers to retain them longer–and acquire more?
  5. What is Internet search?
  6. What happens during a heart attack?

The maps apply concept mapping principles introduced in Learning How to Learn by Novak, Gowin, and Kahle. DDO uses those principles in combination with a graphic design sensibility to create an utterly mesmerizing series of maps. Here’s how DDO describes the role of concept mapping in design activities.

We develop a range of diagrams and maps to create, test, and refine architectures or organizational structures for the applications and sites we design. Maps created as design tools serve many of the purposes of maps created during audits ‖ creating shared models for the team, uncovering problem areas, and serving as a reference for product managers and engineers.

Click the images below to download PDFs of each map. To download all 6 maps in one archive, click here:

They’re meant to be seen large, so print them on a plotter or tile them on your home printer. Most are readable at tabloid size, but you might have to squint:

1. What is Java and its community?

What is Java and its community?

2. How does the Domain Name System (DNS) work?

How does the Domain Name System (DNS) work?

3. What is a brand?

What is a brand?

4. How do organizations track customers to retain them longer–and acquire more?

How do organizations track customers to retain them longer--and acquire more?

5. How does Internet search work?

How does Internet search work?

6. What happens during a heart attack?

What happens during a heart attack?


  • Scott

    gravatarSep 1, 2006
    1:03 pm

    That is awesome… do you know what they use to create these maps? They do really nice work.

  • handel

    gravatarSep 1, 2006
    1:46 pm

    i’d really like to download these concept maps – but despite double-clicking, nothing happens. Any way to get the pdfs in an easy to manage format? (and how do i tile them on my home (A4) printer?) Great site by the way!

  • Chanpory

    gravatarSep 1, 2006
    1:50 pm

    Scott, I believe they were all done in Adobe Illustrator for its typographic control.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarSep 1, 2006
    1:51 pm

    Handel, sorry you’re having trouble downloading. Did you try clicking on the images?

  • handel

    gravatarSep 1, 2006
    2:18 pm

    Hi Chanpory > yes, I tried clicking on the images, I get the right result in the address bar (www.dubberly.com/assets/downloads/DDO_Brand.pdf) but no pdf download takes place. And if I click ‘print’ I only get a small part of the poster. What am I missing? Thanks!

  • Chanpory

    gravatarSep 1, 2006
    2:28 pm

    Handel, I suspect it may have something to do with PDF plugins installed in some browsers. I’ve posted a link in the entry for a zip archive of all the maps. So hopefully, that will make it easier for you to download.

  • handel

    gravatarSep 1, 2006
    2:33 pm

    great stuff! many thanks Chanpory!

  • Ed Furlong

    gravatarSep 5, 2006
    3:13 pm

    The skeptic in me notes that the graphically most simplistic map here is a heart attack. This may be more a comment on the complexity we purposely or inadvertently introduce into systems than on the tools we use to understand those systems. Also suggests that complexity and reality are not necessarily cotravelers.


  • Mark

    gravatarSep 6, 2006
    10:17 am

    Ed> You’re right, the heart attack map is the most simplistic. I would add that it’s also the most simplistic concept. Explaining the concept of a heart attack is much easier than explaining branding. On that note I don’t think there is much to be done simplistically when it comes to visually explaining DNS or Java. There’s another variable that we should consider here, audience. It’s tough to say if these maps are complex or not without knowing who they were designed for. Creating a map of Java to an average person on the street would be done differently than it would if you presented a map to a group of developers at Sun.

  • Paul

    gravatarSep 9, 2006
    9:01 am

    What is interesting about these is the top down approach to organization of information. The heart attack one could have been far more complex if they drilled down more, but the intended audience apparently did not want that. If you look at the Java one, it drilled down quite far. If you look at the customer retention, it also drilled down far and wide (depth and breadth) – e.g. giving names of companies that provide underlying services as well as examples of kinds of data expanded out somewhat far. I like the idea of these, but I wonder how well they really work in this tabloid form (will people read through them)? I note that the concept seems perfect for a more web based (explore via hover over expansions) or powerpoint model, although they did not seem to feel very constrained by space.

  • Paul

    gravatarSep 9, 2006
    11:41 am

    To clarify my comment about this using web technology, I am thinking their creativity would work well with the 3D aspects of “swarm” style displays (text labelled nodes with arcs projected in 3 dimensions, such that you can navigate them by spinning around and through the nodes). Then, clicking on nodes would allow you to drill down to more detail and arcs could be labelled in terms of relationships as they have (important connections closer to you, less important ones projected backwards away from you). This could be a very interesting way to learn complex subjects at your own pace. It is even more interesting if you consider that arcs can take you up and across planes of data, but by zooming out to the 3D model, you get to see the context more clearly. Finally, links then allow you to get to other sites with more information (as they do by simple reference now).

  • Mark

    gravatarSep 13, 2006
    12:53 am

    I get a ‘not found’ error on all maps

  • Chanpory

    gravatarSep 13, 2006
    11:10 am

    Mark, looks like the URL changed. It’s fixed now in the post.

  • Robert McCulloch

    gravatarJan 17, 2007
    10:46 am

    Do you think the domain name is as important for SEO as the title tag of a webpage? I know that MSN puts a lot of value on the domain name. But what about Google and Yahoo?

    Thank you,

    Robert McCulloch http://rpmsol.info/

  • Marc

    gravatarFeb 6, 2007
    5:46 pm

    How did I miss this one? Awesome post. Great find.

  • illuminati

    gravatarMar 10, 2007
    5:15 am

    check out the work of paul laffoly if you want to see some truly mystical and enlightening charts and diagrams

  • Paul

    gravatarMar 10, 2007
    8:43 am

    Illuminati, I think you mean Loffoley, as in: http://www.myspace.com/paullaffoley

  • Audrey

    gravatarMar 19, 2008
    10:40 am

    Very late…

    The audience for the heart attack map were people who’d had one cardiac event and were being encouraged to change their behaviors in order to decrease the risk of a second event. (So you’ll see a lot of emphasis on risk factors and how exactly they increase risk — why exactly does smoking increase your risk for example?)

    Interestingly, physicians recommended against giving this to patients at all — they thought it was much too complex for them to understand. Patients, on the other hand, raved about it. They loved it.

    It was also designed to go into a binder, so the size had an impact. As opposed to the Java map, designed to be hung on the wall, and for people who spend all day every day at work dealing with Java.

  • Candi Summers

    gravatarApr 17, 2008
    10:58 am

    wtf? im like so confused here i need help

  • cicNeesePruse

    gravatarDec 30, 2008
    10:50 pm

    hello it is test. WinRAR provides the full RAR and ZIP file support, can decompress CAB, GZIP, ACE and other archive formats. uvsynifrcdndfnwiwjthwoxcvbvmqfhcuwyhello

  • Loy27

    gravatarOct 22, 2009
    7:03 pm

    Speaking of demographics, what about men playing as women, or folks who prefer not to be gender-specific? ,