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Open Thread: Mac Mind Mapping, and how you use it

I've recently revived my interest in doing mind mapping as a way to capture ideas and plan out projects.

Back in the day, I'd use Inspiration (which registration regrettably died a few years ago), and in more recent times I've played with free apps like My Mind and FreeMind, as well as tested more costly apps like NovaMind and MindManager.

If you also like to mind map, I'm curious to hear which of these you and your Mac are using, how you're using it, and what made you choose one app over another. Got a preference? Prefer regular old paper and markers? Using lots of images in your mind maps? Which pay app is most worth the dough, and why?

And for folks who are new to mind mapping, here's a few links to get you started:

  • Mind map - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "A mind map (or mind-map) is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, and decision making."
  • Mind Maps [peterussell.com] - "Mind maps were developed in the late 60s by Tony Buzan as a way of helping students make notes that used only key words and images. They are much quicker to make, and because of their visual quality much easier to remember and review. The non-linear nature of mind maps makes it easy to link and cross-reference different elements of the map."
  • Learn how to draw Mind Maps with Mind Tools - "Mind Maps are more compact than conventional notes, often taking up one side of paper. This helps you to make associations easily. If you find out more information after you have drawn the main Mind Map, then you can easily integrate it with little disruption."
  • how to make a mind map - "Your initial words and images stimulate associations. Attach whatever word or image is triggered. Allow the 'random movement of your thought; you do not have to ‘finish’ one branch before moving on"
  • Uses of Mind Maps [peterussell.com] - "Whenever you are confronted by a problem -- professional or personal -- mind maps help you see all the issues and how they relate to each other. They also help others quickly get an overview of how you see different aspects of the situation, and their relative importance."
Ben's picture

I use Mindjet for argument...

I use Mindjet for argument mapping. I know there are dedicated argument mapping packages out there, such as ReasonAble! and Rationale, but I find the superior graphical interface features of Mindjet's product outweighs the disadvantages of using it for a purpose slightly different from what I intended. (Having said that, the way I do argument maps is heavily influenced by the way ReasonAble! Works. If those guys can team up with the Mindjet people, they’d have a winner product.)

What I do is put the central proposition of the case at the centre and then the first child note is just the word "because". The child nodes of that are the premises of that argument – each written as a full, propositional sentence. Each separate argument for a proposition hangs off its own "because" node (thus, if the central proposition is supported several independent arguments, there will be several “because” nodes hanging from it). Each premise can then be its own proposition with its own "because" nodes.

Counter arguments to a proposition are hung off a "BUT" node. I colour propositions that are assisting the central proposition green and those that are rebutting the central proposition red. "Becauses" and "buts" are in plain text.

All of this is usually done on the curved right or elbow right format, rather than the classic mindmap format with the central idea at the centre.

I first started doing this on CMap but I found the absence of word wrap for long nodes was a problem and it wasn't as easy to add extra premises as it is with Mindjet.

I tend to use CMap to get all concepts (or companies in a corporate structure) in my head and then Mindjet to map out an argument.

One other thing that really bugs me about CMap is that it won't let you save maps in other folders. I like to keep all documents related to a matter, whether they be word docs, spreadsheets, pdfs or mindmaps, in the one folder.




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