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Can a mind map extend beyond the limits of our own mind?

Serenpedia is an online research tool connected to Wikipedia that stimulates creative exploration and discovery and gives an overview of findings. The site is in beta stage whilst we are currently implementing a new UI and conducting user studies.

Role: Project lead, concept, UX

Team: Dev, graphic design, researcher

2022 - NOW

Funded by Stimuleringsfonds Digital Culture and Eindhoven Cultuur

Beta version teaser


Serenpedia is a tool that enables you to explore and find the information you didn’t know you were searching for. Like a fisherman throwing a wide net into the ocean; 

You can approach your search with curiosity, and anticipate revealing the finds of your 'catch' afterwards. 


With an ever growing quantity of data available during a search, we need a new set of tools to navigate and make sense of this information. Common methods for web research deliver precise but fragmented results, which impedes our ability to make connections between topics and think creatively.


During the pilot project I developed first hypotheses on needs and problems of creative online research.

To confirm these I conducted a series of interviews with users discussing their current workflow and research process and where a new online tool could fit in.

Key findings

  1. There is a high value in finding the right keywords, having the right search terms can lead to new research insights as well as new ideas and ‘’creative moments’’                                     

  2. Creative moments occur when the research has reached a certain depth and requires the translation of a new piece of information to the current topic of the project                                      

  3. Structuring research is a strong necessity, while experiencing the drift into a ‘’rabbit hole’’ is a common fear

’It's a black hole - it is difficult to stop, it takes time to find the right important terms’’ 

(Participant 3)

’Sometimes I see something and it directly sparks an idea… and sometimes I am not engaging with the information at all and I just recall something that I saw earlier in a new way’’ 

(Participant 1)

My First Board - Affinity map.png

Problem exploration

User survey

Role of creativity

To validate the findings from explorative interviews I conducted a survey with 30 participants from various professional backgrounds.

To see if they would benefit from a research tool that stimulates creativity they were asked if they think that creativity plays an important role in their profession. 70% of the participants agreed that creativity plays an important role, even though only a few (4/30) work in the creative industry.


Common traits

Further we found that common problems described in the interviews found a strong identification with a bigger sample size. As well as the described occurence of creative moments, which shows they experience creativity in a similar process and setting.

Found insights of the study helped to prioritise design ideas and focus on the main problems to solve by our user group.



The UI will reference a traditional mindmap - one that is not limited to content from your own mind, but that is built up node by node, displaying new information from the Wikipedia database.


To start the map they search for their first topic, from which they can branch out and explore related topics from each node. When reading a Wiki-article and clicking links the map will automatically build and expand in the background reflecting the chosen pathway.


Compared to regular browsing practises (e.g. search engine), Serenpedia serves as a way to capture and curate the pathways of interest, and gives the user a visual aid to reflect on his findings and analyse the interconnections between them. 

Reflection & Outlook

At the current stage of the project our goal is to identify our MVS (Minimal viable segment), to concentrate efforts towards the users benefitting most from our tool. To achieve this we released a "raw" beta version for feedback which enables us to adjust early in the development period. Currently we are conducting a diary study with researchers to further identify research needs whilst working on a graphic style and improved functioning. 

In its core Serenpedia provides a universal methodology for searching and archiving text based data. While Wikipedia poses ideal conditions for building the tool, in a long term vision we see Serenpedia being adapted by other archives or databases that will benefit from an "explorative" navigation.

Collaborators: Vincent van Dijk (development), Seo Kim (graphics), Lauren Lundholm (research)

Partners: MADlab Eindhoven, Design Academy Eindhoven, University for Business and Society Ludwigshafen

With support from Stimuleringsfonds creative industry & Eindhoven Cultuur

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