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What on earth is "Mind Mapping" software?

halkunhalkun Registered User regular
edited April 2014 in Help / Advice Forum
I have a lot of home projects that I tend to start and then drop due to overwhelming distractions. (Often by starting another project). I was told at work that If I used some mind mapping software it can really help pinning down all of my projects and I will be come much more productive. I was recommended "Freemind" and so I gave it a shot...

Wow, what on earth is this thing?

I'm not "getting" this. I looked at some tutorials and all they do is draw bubbles and lines and how you how to move nodes around. I mean, I can move nodes and make bubbles and put on icons but I'm not seeing how this is helpful in any way for task management or even basic note taking. (and there is a guy I know who swears by this application). I asked around and heard it can be used from anything from outlining a novel to project management(!?) really? I'm also hard pressed to see any "real word" examples. I just see maps that reference other generic references.

Computers -> Microsoft -> (list of MS applications each with it's own node) goes on one branch
Computers-> Java -> (Sub-nodes into links, debugging, windows launcher, etc, etc) goes on another

Where's the "stuff"? Where are the tables and actual data? The system seems awful "rabbit hole-ish" of abstract fluffiness with no meat. Can someone explain this?

halkun on


  • I needed a gnome to post.I needed a gnome to post. Registered User regular
    It's a placebo for motivation.

    tynicchrishallett83SCREECH OF THE FARG
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Some people find it helpful to see their thoughts on a page (or on a screen) organized spatially. Visual linkages representing links between ideas are easier for some people to comprehend. If you're not finding mind mapping software helpful you're probably just not one of those people. The actual software is basically only helpful if you'd find the process helpful either way (before it came along, people made mind maps by hand, and many still do) just like word processing software is only useful if you'd be inclined to write things out by hand otherwise.

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited April 2014
    a mind map would traditional be a 'first step' in organizing a large project, usually collaboratively; they're borne out of having a room of people and a whiteboard and an urge to visually represent ideas for direction or schematic understandings as they emerge. i've used digital mindmapping software and it has never really added much more than that basic two-dimensional outline. i'd use mind maps teaching in high-school, for example, but i'd never manage my own projects with one. i'd only be visualizing what i already understand. they're a communicative and collaborative tool really.

    bsjezz on
  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited April 2014
    The last time I effectively used mind mapping software, I was making upgrade/tech trees for a persistent campaign mode in Flashpoint: Fire Rescue. :smile: Only because I wanted a pretty looking flowchart.

    It works for some people, doesn't work for others. I put it in the same box as brainstorming, personally. It produces occasional brilliant ideas, but mostly it's not too useful. It does create a pretty looking organizational tree, though, so it makes for great powerpoint slides.

    EDIT: Oh, and it is really great for making people THINK you have a lot of great projects going on. Managers love looking at stuff like that. In some ways, this is good though... having a visual overview that conveys a big picture can tell people "Hey, see? I am actually working." It is more powerful than just text or words.

    Hahnsoo1 on
    PSN: Hahnsoo | MHGU: Hahnsoo, Switch FC: SW-0085-2679-5212
  • Pure DinPure Din Boston-areaRegistered User regular
    I have ADHD, and find mindmaps to be really helpful for organizing ideas if I need to give a talk or write a paper and I'm having trouble figuring out how ideas are related or what the structure should be. I have trouble going directly to an outline, so it helps me to be able to draw things out in a graph and see which ideas I will need to introduce in order, and then I can drag the ideas around until I have something I that works as an outline. I really like having all the ideas in front of me to manipulate, since it's the kind of thing I have trouble keeping track of in my head.

    So in other words, I disagree that mind maps are useless, but I admit they're probably less helpful for non ADHD people or others who can organize their thoughts linearly more easily.

  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited April 2014
    I got it now... I figured it out by looking at the save file of FreeMind and it clicked.

    It's a hierarchical schema display tool that places nodes at X/Y points to allow you to branch nodes graphically to other X/Y locations.

    Upshot, it's an outlining tool, but as opposed to it being a flat list going downward from the root node in the upper left, and branches to the right, the root node is in the middle and branches outward from the center.

    I was thinking there was things like calendaring and default node definitions like tasks, and todos. When I opened the XML save file and realized it was just holding the same hierarchical data I was putting in in X/Y space, it clicked.

    I then imported some source code from Final Fantasy 7 and the tool's functions became clear.

    To see what that looks like click here

    halkun on
  • TefTef Registered User regular
    Hey @Halkun I know this is pretty old at this point, but if you're looking at an electronic system for managing projects, I use both for personal and work projects. I find it incredibly useful and highly recommend it. Having said that, if it's just a basic to do list, you could get a little white board, stick it up somewhere visible in your house and just run it as a, 'to do' list.

  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    halkun wrote: »
    I got it now... I figured it out by looking at the save file of FreeMind and it clicked.

    It's a hierarchical schema display tool that places nodes at X/Y points to allow you to branch nodes graphically to other X/Y locations.

    Isn't that just a lengthy description of what a map is? It's not necessarily hierarchical - you can have a number of equally-dignified nodes or processes interrelating to each other.

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