Given that my mind is in constant chaos and thus almost always in need to be put in a state somehow resembling order, I’ve always been a fan of things that help in that field, both online and offline. One such example is a wiki, which I do keep a personal version of for storing all sorts of information and bits ‘n’ pieces that can easily be kept in one place. Another is my trusty Moleskine, a handy notebook for when you’re on the road and can’t afford or don’t want to be burdened by a smart phone or a PDA.
Another recently discovered online method is mind maps and although I’ve known about mind mapping for quite a bit, I had never really used it due to a couple of annoying limitations it has. By its very nature it’s associated with a less standard layout and as such has not played well with the standard interface of most media – except on paper perhaps. Not to mention that even when doing one on paper, I usually keep expanding the mind map towards the upper right corner leaving the rest of the sheet empty… or find that I’d be really useful to ‘move’ this bubble to the left. Also, doing it on paper, seriously limits the map’s ‘shareability’ and interactivity and any chance it has to be used in conjunction with the so-called ‘wisdom of the crowds’.
All this may be able to change however with mindmeister.com – a little app I read about in Webware and was subsequently surprised when I actually saw how much it could do. Probably it’s best to show an example of the Web 2.0 Who’s Who I made from our Blogroll.
So this is a simple, alternate view of all the individuals whose blog we are reading. The usual text and link editing is available, including options for zooming in and out, changing fonts and colours and various other nifty details (including recognising Frauenfelder’s correct spelling!). All this is done in an effective drag’n’drop way but what really is most exciting about it though, is that once I’ve made it, I can share it. This means that it can also be made available for viewing or editing by my friends or, if I want to, I can open it more broadly for anyone to view it (though not add to it). That’s what I did for our Blogroll above. It also seems to support simultaneous editing as well exporting of the result to various formats, e.g. image. Another great feature is of that Mindmeister mind maps can be embedded in blogs and sites too – which should lead in a much quicker spread of mind mapping examples as visualisation aids in organising information.
There’s definitely room for improvement obviously. For example, I’d like to be able to join nodes with arrows indicating connection between concepts (or people in the Blogroll case). Also, I’d like to be able to allow anyone to edit it – not just people I invite to it or have an account with Mindmeister. Unfortunately mind maps can only be embedded in a blog if you are using their premium account (a few USD a month) – or the 30 day free trial. I think they should have reserved some other features for the premium section of their product – to let the embedding ability virally spread their application (in any case, I can’t seem to embed this in WordPress anyway). All in all, I suspect we’ll be seeing quite a bit of it in all sorts of sites.
Disclaimer: I have no relation whatsoever with the product:)tags: product