SpiderScribe is an online Flash-based tool that helps with brainstorming through the creation of mind maps, diagrams for sketching out ideas and concepts. There are already quite a few similar web-based tools available, MindMeister and Bubbl.us for example, but SpiderScribe is free, very easy to use and has a few neat features that make it useful for collaborative brainstorming with your team, most notably that the mind map nodes can be documents, images and calendar events, rather than just text, and maps can easily be shared with others.
After creating an account you can get started. There’s a demo video and a demo map provided to give you an idea of the kind of thing that you can put together, but the interface is reasonably intuitive. There’s a palette with the nodes you can create (this is originally docked at the bottom of the window, but you can reposition it; I moved it up to the side, as shown in the screenshot), while across the top of the screen are controls such as undo, redo, search and sharing. Nodes can be text, images, files, locations or calendar events and can be added to the map, repositioned and joined together by dragging and dropping. It works well, although I should note that in my testing I had issues with deleting location nodes; the app is currently in beta so hopefully this issue is just a small bug the developers can iron out.
By default, your maps are private, but you can share them with others, either by sending invites or by publishing the map to the web. Invites are sent via email and you can elect to make the folks that you invite “Readers” (who only have permission to view the map) or “Editors” (who can view and edit the map); you can also decide whether to allow them to then share the map with others. They will then need to sign up to SpiderScribe to view or edit your map. Real-time collaboration is possible (changes made to the map by others will automatically appear on your screen), but it doesn’t have the advanced collaborative features of tools like MindJet Catalyst. Public maps are published on the web and don’t require people to sign up to view them, but the maps are not editable.
SpiderScribe is free and in beta; you can sign up here.