Here's an interesting article from TopicScape on how to utilize mind mapping software to capture the mountain of information gathered during web research projects. This technique promises to help you to stay focused on the task at hand, while also storing all of the "must-see" sites and resources you've found in an organized way.
As you locate valuable articles and resources online, create topics in a map and then add HTML links to them, to save the URLs for future reference. As your volume of sites grows, you can easily organize your map into logical "clusters" of information. When you're done compiling and organizing the results of your research, most mind mapping software programs will enable you to export your map to an HTML format, with the URLs as "hot spots" - so you can quickly return to those key web pages.
Jamie Nast, author of the new book, Idea Mapping, has just released a companion tool called the Idea Mapping Kit. It contains a 7-1/16" x 9-1/8" 3-ring binder with velcro closure, a supply of 3-hole punched, high-quality, 67-pound paper for mapping, plus award-winning Staedtler Triplus colored markers in a zippered pouch. The case that the markers come in can be stood up so that the markers are easy to get at. Everything fits together into a neat, compact kit that you can carry just about anywhere. The cost of the Idea Mapping Kit is $99 USD.
In August, I told you about GyroQ, a new desktop applet from Gyronix for capturing your ideas on the fly and dumping them into a MindManager map, was in beta testing. It has now been released, and is available for purchase from the Gyronix website. The cost for the "essential edition" is $29.95 USD; a "developer edition," which enables you to create new content tags or customize existing ones, is $49.95 USD. A 15-day trial version is also available for download. You can find all of the details on this web page. To buy GyroQ, please visit this page.
Thanks to a comment posted to this blog by its developer, I recently learned of a new, soon-to-be-released mind mapping program called MindVisualizer. What makes this program unique is that it will be launched in both English and Chinese versions. The developer, who is from China, says that the market for mind mapping in his country is virtually untapped. Considering that the Chinese language is pictorially based, my guess is that Chinese businesspeople will take readily to the idea of visually mapping their ideas and knowledge.
The developer hopes to release MindVisualizer by the end of 2006, perhaps sooner. The first release will support English, simplied Chinese (China mainland) and traditional Chinese (Hongkong and Taiwan).
I have recently uploaded a review of FreeMind, the open-source mind mapping software program, to my InnovationTools website. You can view it here. A highlight: "FreeMind offers a lot of functionality for a free piece of software. Best of all, because it's open source, it should continue to get even better with time. Well worth a download. 4 out of 5 stars."
SmartDraw.com has just released the latest version of its popular business diagramming program, SmartDraw 2007. It may be one the most significant upgrades to SmartDraw ever. The biggest change in this new version is a revised interface, which appears to be inspired by the "ribbon" toolbars that Microsoft plans to launch in its Office 2007 productivity suite. Rather than a single row of toolbar buttons, the new SmartDraw toolbar consists of a series of rectangular sections that are devoted to specific types of tasks, each displaying multiple buttons. Some of these ribbons are context sensitive (what SmartDraw calls a "SmartPanel"); that is, they show commands that are related to the work you're currently doing. The net effect of this new interface metaphor is that it gives you single-click access to more of the commands that you need to get work done. For a program like SmartDraw, where not every user is a diagramming pro, knowing what you CAN do in a given situation is an important usability enhancement!Click here for more details on SmartDraw's new and improved features, including screen shots of individual SmartPanels.
I downloaded the trial version of SmartDraw 2007, and was impressed with the new interface. Some other notable new features include:
Auto-linking of shapes. If you drag one shape near another, the two will automatically be connected to each other.
Shape effects: A new graphics engine enables you to easily add reflections, glows, glosses and shadows to any drawing.
Professionally designed themes, which enable you - with a single button click - to apply a color scheme to your drawing. This ought to be a big time saver for busy business users, who don't want to spend a lot of time dressing up the appearance of their diagrams.
By the way, what is an overview of a business drawing program doing in this mind mapping software blog? For starters, SmartDraw 2007 does do mind maps. But more importantly, SmartDraw is the #1 program I recommend for all of your other diagramming needs, including flow charts, fishbone (cause and effect) diagrams and more.
I recently learned that Inspiration Software has published an international version of Inspiration 8 that includes a mind mapping view, in addition to the diagram and outline views in the U.S. version. Unlike the diagram view, which by default places topics within squares, ellipses and other common shapes, the mind map view of Inspiration 8 IE places topics and subtopics on the connector lines, following the more traditional model of mind mapping. In addition, the program places topics on colorful, shapely connector lines, adding visual interest to your maps.
A reseller called the MindServe Group adds more business functionality to this visual mapping program by selling a CD of sample maps and templates that it has compiled in its work with clients to optimize Inspiration for different business applications. In the process, they have figured out how to make Inspiration do things that I didn't even know were possible, such as creating fishbone (cause and effect) diagrams.
While reading some blog posts recently, I became reacquainted with “Mind Mapping for Marketers and Writers,” an excellent report by Roger C. Parker that I first learned about several years ago. In it, he shares some valuable tips and techniques for utilizing mind mapping software to help you organize your questions for interviews, your topics for nearly any type of writing project, maintain lists of media contacts and much more. Even if you are not a writer, you will benefit from Roger’s advice.
Some of the tasks that he suggests organizing with mind mapping include these gems:
Organizing downloaded Web text
Scheduling product launches
Organizing networking contacts
Tracking frequently asked questions
Analyzing new business opportunities
Inventorying assets and resources
I highly recommend this valuable mind mapping resource!
It's always great to see software developers using innovative means to get their message out to the world. The latest example is a 4-minute video demonstration of how to use ConceptDraw MINDMAP 4 for educational applications on YouTube. Although part of it looks like a commercial, it does contain some instructive content. Video is a great way to show what mind mapping software DOES, and this clip shows a number of topics, links, image files and video being added to a ConceptDraw map. Nice work, CS Odessa!
Receive biweekly updates on the latest news, trends and developments. Sign up today for this free e-newsletter and receive a report, 10 Mistakes to Avoid with Mind Mapping Software. Become a better mind mapper today!