Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a concept that I recently stumbled upon on the web that I wished I had learned during my K-12 imprisonment.  I have a wandering mind, with a poor memory, that finds it hard to hold the big picture on any subject, so it was exciting to come across this concept.  Because a video is worth a thousand words each 1/25th of a second, I think I’ll let one do the explaining for me:

Tony Buzan is a modern prophet for mind mapping and promotes the concept around the world.  In recent years mind mapping software tools have emerged hoping to become a new category of productivity software after the word processor, spreadsheet and presentation package.  There’s definitely a lot of information on the web, and plenty of software to try for free, but I’ve yet to meet anyone personally that extols the virtue of mind mapping.  And there’s plenty of companies selling products in the $99-$349 range, all touting that their tools are used in thousands of businesses and schools around the world.  I wonder how I’ve missed this – maybe because I graduated from high school forty years ago.

I have a life-long desire to write fiction, but I have a devil of a time plotting and shaping a story, so I hope mind mapping might help me.  I figure the concept will also be good for my programming projects, and even working out blog ideas ahead of time.  Hell, it might lead to essays that don’t meander about so much.

For a software category that’s been invisible to me, there’s an amazing array of products to use, see the mind map of mind mapping software packages from Mind Mapping Software Blog.  And here’s a Mind Map Search site listing 200 websites devoted to mind mapping.  And if you want to regularly read about mind mapping, try Mind Mapping Blog.

Mind mapping is considered one of many techniques at Mind Tools for business users to expand their career skills, but mind maps are also great for students studying any subject, or for creative people wanting to brainstorm.  If I succeed with short story writing I’ll chronicle how mind mapping helped in a future blog.  There’s a fair learning curve to mind mapping, and it might be an art in itself.  I need to practice a bit before I judge the concept.

After installing a couple free programs, and looking at many commercial sales videos I’ve settled on trying Xmind, available for Windows, Mac or Linux users.  (FYI: if you’re using IE8 be sure to turn on compatibility mode while visiting their site.)  Most of the free cross-platform packages use Java, and I hate Java applications, but Xmind is much better looking than most Java applications I have used, so I picked it for that reason over Freemind.  Xmind was once a commercial product, but now there’s a free version and a Pro version.  The Pro version is a $49 a year subscription service with more professional output options. 

Most commercial mind mapping programs have 30-day trials, but I’ll wait to see how successful I become at mind mapping before considering them.  If you want to give the concept a spin without installing anything on your computer, visit Mind42.com or mindmeister for a web versions of mind mapping.

Another appealing feature of Xmind is their share site, which features uploaded mind maps from around the world to study.  Xmind also uses the concept of workbook with pages to create multi-dimensional mind maps.  I figure I’ll play with Xmind and research mind mapping for a few weeks or months, and then write a post that chronicles my effort.  For now, I’m just curious if anyone I know actually mind maps.

JWH – 8/26/9

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