A few days ago, I told you about Norah Bolton's new visual mapping e-book, See What You Think! How to Work Better and Faster with VisiMap. I've now had a chance to dig into it a bit more, and I think it's a great resource for users of any mind mapping program. This new resource is filled with practical examples of mind mapping in action (both hand drawn and software produced), and Norah almost waxes lyrical talking about how visual mapping represents a new "language" for communicating ideas:
"If our tools change the way we think, visual mapping is an entry into the much larger framework of thought that has unfolded before our very eyes. In the same way that learning to print was a step on the way to learning to write, visual mapping can be a way to understand what is going on in the new knowledge based world and the way that information is structured and connected... A visual mapping perspective reminds us that our ability to make links and connections, to explore and to make connections is infinite."
I've always been an avid user of software tools, but I've never given that much thought to the fact that they actually enhance the ways in which I think. Seen from that perspective, visual mapping is literally a new language, a language of thoughts and ideas. Norah uses this fascinating quote from Margaret Boden, author of The Creative Mind, to reinforce this point:
"In general, problem solving is critically affected by the representation used by the problem solver... Some of the most important human creations have been new representational systems. These include Arabic numerals, chemical formula, or the staves, minims and crochets used by musicians... As well as recording new ideas for posterity, such languages may make them possible in the first place. For a written language can help us explore the implications of the ideas it represents."
In other words, seen as a type of language for representing ideas, visual mapping literally makes it possible for us to consider our ideas in powerful new ways that aren't possible when they are represented in the conventional linear fashion. Today's knowledge work increasingly demands that we be able to gather information from numerous sources, distill it and communicate it effectively to others, plus be a life-long learner in all areas of our lives. Visual mapping can help tremendously in all four roles.