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Vladimir Babarykin

Vladimir Babarykin

Vlad has a background in linguistics and IT, as well as over 13 years of running IT companies. He is passionate about learning, innovation, entrepreneurship and is ready to share some of his insights in this blog.

Problems in Education

There is an ongoing debate of whether there is a higher education bubble in the USA . Some people say that is not correct to compare education and, e.g. houses, since houses are resalable assets, which can lead to fast price deterioration in case of a bear market. But it is not possible to resell your education to someone else. Others say that there definitely is at least a “student loan bubble”.

Time will show us how the situation evolves. However, let’s take a look at a few facts:

Tuition fees are over 550% higher today than in 1985, and college textbooks prices increased over 800% since 1978. Medical care, housing prices, and consumer price index didn’t grow that fast, not to mention the average income growth.

Current US student loan debt approaches $1.3 trillion, growing at a rate of over $3,000 per second. 

40 million people have student loans, 27% of the debt is delinquent, while it is not possible to write off this debt. In fact, instead you can get penalties, ruin your credit rating, etc.


Whether it is technically correct or incorrect to use the word bubble for the situation, most people would agree that it is scary and seems to be getting out of control, not only on the student end of the market, but also with high chances of colleges and universities going bankrupt. 


There are multiple recommendations of what needs to be done, as well as explanations of the causes, with some of the most notable reasons named being fast tuition costs growth due to fast growth of administrative services and jobs, tenure, availability of loans, reduction of state and federal funding, increased demand for education due to prestige and foreign students, lack of protection of students due to federal law changes making it not possible to declare bankruptcy, making lenders interested to give as many loans as possible, and even more interested in students to default. 


Many people are concerned about the problem and get involved in finding solutions, and hopefully they will. However, I would like to touch upon a different part of the value/price equation that is talked about not so often.

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There is a long history of debate about the amount of primary emotions people have. E.g. Paul Ekman in a study of 1972 suggests that there are 6 primary emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. And his authority made this amount of basic emotions a standard for some time. However, other scientists offered other amounts of basic emotions. E.g. Robert Plutchik in his concept of the wheel of emotions offers to consider 8 emotions to be the basic ones, adding trust and anticipation to the Ekman’s list, plus substituting happiness with joy.

Plutchik's wheel of emotions

As the scientists advance their methods and the science of emotions becomes less speculative, there is a tendency to shrink the amount of emotions that serve as the basis for the rest. Reviews and statistical processing of hundreds of fMRI and PET neuroimaging studies nowadays name five basic emotions: anger, fear, sadness, happiness and disgust, with this amount gradually becoming the new standard.

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I first came across a book on 36 stratagems in my teenage years. At that time I felt disgust towards the book, as it looked to me more like a collection of dirty tricks and villainy tactics, than a book on the art of war, even less so as a book on business, politics or social communications.


Because of the frame I put the work in back then, I never really paid attention to multiple mentions of the work in relation to business and other activities I’ve been involved in.


As a side note, around 8 years ago I got interested in a martial art called ILiqChuan, and has been practicing and even teaching it since. The art is based on the principles of Tao and Zen, and with years of practice I started to appreciate how simple principles of yin, yang and their balance can be applied at different levels and plains and lead to very interesting results.


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For millions of years ancestors of current people had a lifestyle that primarily demanded to remember things and other creatures in physical locations to find food, avoid dangers and procreate.

Around 100K years ago languages emerged. People started to collect and share knowledge more actively, with it gradually becoming more abstract. Around 10K years ago people began changing their lifestyle from hunters-gatherers into more agricultural one. Slightly later they invented writing systems, which allowed even faster knowledge accumulation.

In 15th century people started printing books, which led to spread of literacy and ultimately to information revolution, finally crowned by invention of the Internet. Lifestyle substantially changed again, leading to information overload.

What is even more important, current way of working with information is notoriously misaligned with the evolutionary determined one. People are great at remembering things and creatures at physical locations, not abstract words without any spatial reference.

People invented many quick fixes to the problem: writing, note-taking, books, as well as computer-assisted ways to accomplish the same: ebooks, electronic documents and note-taking, online search and even brain training.

However, until recently computer technologies were not mature enough to be of much help with the key component of memorization - ability to easily put information in a 3D space. Most of the software allows to work with information either in linear or flat (2D) mode, or requires too much effort and skills for 3D visualization to make working with spatial information practical.

And it is exactly this problem that we target at SpatialNote, creating a way for people to work with information the way nature shaped humans: positioning information in space, and easily adding concrete and specific info to abstract one to substantially aid memorization and recall. And we are making it at a great time, when even mobile phones are capable to provide decent level of performance for organizing info in 3D.

Here are the major components of good memorization:


  1. Make initial memorization powerful by organizing info in space (and making it more memorable if needed)

  2. Repeat

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In the introductory article to this series on thinking, we deconstructed popular definitions of thinking and thoughts, and found that it is believed that thinking typically happens with images. These beliefs are proved to some extent by the number of searches related to visual thinking among other sensual modalities people can think with. Visual thinking is an especially popular concept in business environment, with lots of books published, seminars and trainings offered and held, tons of blog articles written on the topic. And it looks like the business environment is somewhat conservative, or shall I say it more rudely - stuck and lagging behind not only from the thought leaders (scientists and book authors), but from the general public as well in how high it values this type of thinking? 

What I mean is that the simple research that we made in the last article indicates that general public is losing interest in visual thinking, and becomes more interested in verbal and spatial ones (if we talk about what can be to at least some extent named as modalities of thinking), not to mention much more popular critical/rational thinking. Book authors already mention spatial thinking four times and critical/rational 20 times more often than visual.

But in the business environment everything is different. You can find almost 900 books related to visual thinking in the category of business books at the Amazon website and under 300 ones having relation to spatial thinking. What is more important, those related to spatial thinking just mention it somewhere, while visual thinking ones often have word “visual” in the titles.  Another strong evidence comes from a professional social network - LinkedIn - you can find dozens of groups devoted to some kinds of visual thinking, with some of them having dozens of thousands of members, and only one group with around 40 members, that mentions spatial (along with visual) thinking. [We even decided to start several groups on spatial thinking on major social networks ourselves to gather people interested in the topic, here are the links: Facebook Group  (most popular so far), LinkedIn Group and Google+ Group ].

Am I right, stating that the business people lag behind? Maybe, on the contrary, they are the visionaries understanding all the benefits of visual thinking, while the rest of the people simply are not that good at this type of cognition and are lagging behind and simply try to find alternatives that work for them?

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Would you agree that for better understanding one needs to be able to construct own definitions, rather than being limited to definitions already formulated by others?  I invite you to walk a thinking path with me, in course of which we will try to construct a valid definition of thinking itself. I suggest we compare results at the end of the path: sharing and discussing contribute to better understanding as well. Let’s begin.


Wikipedia's definitions (here and in other parts of the article the definitions are as of February 2015) of the terms “thought” and “thinking” never fail at making me smile. They also put me into a tranquil meditative state, as if Milton Erickson himself, the father of Conversational Hypnosis, wrote these definitions. Take a look:


“Thought can refer to the ideas or arrangements of ideas that result from thinking, the act of producing thoughts, or the process of producing thoughts. Although thought is a fundamental human activity familiar to everyone, there is no generally accepted agreement as to what thought is or how it is created. Thoughts are the result or product of spontaneous acts of thinking.”


If we get rid of the irrelevant words from the definitions, we will get this: “Thought refers to ideas resulting from spontaneous acts or processes of producing thoughts.” Or, to make it even simpler - “Producing thoughts results in ideas that can be referred to as thoughts”. Basically, the definitions are: “Thoughts result from thinking” and “Thinking is the process of producing thoughts”.


Smile is a result of smiling. Smiling results in such configuration of lips that can be referred to as a smile.

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Hello, my name is Vladimir Babarykin and I’m a founder and the CEO of SpatialNote. In this post I would like to share my reasons for starting this company and this blog. But first let me share one of the most interesting insights I got from my experience of running an IT company.


Complex business environments consist of so many factors that it is hard to objectively name the most important ones. Even within a large sample of companies the following factors vary too much to provide data that could allow for reasonable conclusions on this matter:

•    The time it takes a startup to succeed;

•    Team size, skill and motivation levels;

•    Market situation;

•    Ideas.

I was lucky to run the company with most of the variables unchanged for long enough time to isolate the key factor for success of a product.


The astonishing insight was that there can be a tremendous (up to 1,000 times) difference in success rate of products developed in similar conditions by the same team.  Let me tell you how we arrived to this data.


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