Mind mapping with FreeMind

Mind Mapping is an underestimated technique. Many have bad experiences and as a result, they are too focused on the techniques (or their lackings) involved. The true essence of mind mapping, i.e. the ability to quickly draw up association nets from your brain with little effort required in formatting, is often missed. Let me rephrase: mind mapping at its core is not a tool thing, it's about rolling the ideas out and sketching them up quickly enough.

The dislike towards the technique stems from a kind of perfectionism. Drawing a mind map with pencil and paper is hard (at first!), as you'll have a hard time figuring out the proper amount of space to reserve for a branch. As you do it more, you grow better – and learn not to care, using crossing lines and other untidy markings instead. There's much to be said for hand-made mind maps and quite a few arguments against computer-powered ones, but at least an electronic mind map doesn't suffer from the friction of reorganizing content.

Mind mapping software is often horrible in quality or expensive, possibly both. Due to my past experience, I wasn't really anxious about mapping some ideas on the screen, but decided to go for it anyway. And boy it feels good to be wrong – FreeMind is an excellent mind mapper! It is free and works well enough to be transparent – you don't really have to think about the tool.

While whiteboards and papers still rule, redistribution and editability may at occasions take precedence. Although I'd pick a good publicly visible whiteboard over email-transferred documents any day, the whiteboard concept tends to collapse with increasing distance. Now that I have a decent software tool at my disposal, both analog and digital maps are again far more appealing.

Ps. FreeMind also healed me from my distrustful attitude towards Java-based GUI applications. It's smooth enough to make one forget the Java 1.1 age software. And it's about time for that to happen.

August 18, 2006 В· Jouni Heikniemi В· Comments Closed
Posted in: .NET