I know what your thinking. Mind Mapping software; this has got to be cool. Well, your right. Just not in the way you think.
Almost all educational institutions, when teaching students how to compose essays and articles, or how to organize their ideas, teach them to make outlines. Visual representations of the form that their writing is going to take. In most cases, this amounted to a big bubble connected to a bunch of smaller bubbles by lines. Not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing of creations, but these outlines typically got the job done. These days, students are finding themselves less and less sitting in classes writing out papers with pens and pencils, but instead they are typing them, including full color graphics, and giving full multimedia presentations. So why should the outline remain on paper? Smart designs, photos, colorful, branching designs; these things help bring the visualization of the thought process to the modern day. I found Novamind’s program by the same name to be pretty useful, considering I was never one for drawing out my ideas. The ability to use any pictures, to color code related ideas, and to be able to switch from the media and color rich version to a more traditional version were some of the features that I noticed right off the bat.
Novamind’s main screen with all the branches and any attached photos.
Novamind touts the Mind Map as something that is simple to make and read, because it works just like your brain and memory. Instead of long, wordy descriptions of ideas and thoughts, the Novamind suggests short, one or two word descriptions, or small, simple and straightforward images, as this is the way the mind works when recalling information. So what other uses would a Mind Map have? Besides remembering information, a Mind Map is said to help generate ideas, organize thoughts, and allow your mind to focus on the main issues according to Novamind. While I’m not sure about all of that (I didn’t have any bursts of genius or sudden clarity after creating a Mind Map of a paper I was writing), I did find it useful for seeing relationships between main ideas, and being able to fill in some holes I didn’t realize where there in arguments I was presenting.
While I found Novamind did have its uses, I often felt that I was gaining little by entering all this information over hand-drawing an outline. And, at $79 for a single user license of the Standard Edition, I thought, at least for the time being, I would stick with the circles and lines on paper.