Mind mapping and concept mapping—techniques of organizing ideas and information in a visual map—have been used for hundreds of years, by individuals as notable as Leonardo Da Vinci. Because of its versatility as a tool for brainstorming, project management, note taking , and many other uses, mind mapping has become a widely used tool in business and education.
Despite the availability of free mind mapping software, many people continue to use hand-drawn mind maps. Of course there are situations in which hand-drawn maps are valuable, but here are some significant advantages of digital mind mapping.
1. Flexibility in design
One benefit of mind mapping (both digital and hand-drawn) is the variety of personalized designs you can bring to your maps. You can make tightly organized maps for planning out events to the smallest detail and exact time. Alternatively, you can make sprawling, messy maps as idea-generation tools and brainstorming techniques. There are no restrictions on the style of your map.
However, sometimes drawing a map by hand can be restricting. For example, let’s imagine you have drawn a messy, free-form concept map to generate ideas for an upcoming project. If you want to refine your messy hand-drawn map into a careful, orderly map to share with colleagues, your only options are to scratch out and erase topics (which will leave your map looking terrible) or a draw an entirely new map.
With digital mind mapping, it’s much easier to reorganize or modify an existing map to suit your needs. This flexibility also encourages you to think in new ways about the issue you are addressing. At any time you are able to introduce a whole new topic into your map. MindMaple uses an algorithm to restructure your map when you introduce a new topic, ensuring you always have space to continue expanding your ideas.
Here are a few examples of the variety of maps you can make with MindMaple.
2. Facilitates sharing and collaboration
If you want to share a hand-drawn mind map with a friend or colleague, you must either photocopy the map or give them the original. And if you are working on a project together, there is no simple way for your colleague wants to edit the map or make additions.
In contrast, digital mind mapping makes collaboration simple. You can easily send your map to a group or individual via email. Your colleagues can open the map, edit it however they wish, and send it back.
This makes mind mapping a great tool for education. Teachers can provide students with a basic, structured map outline, and ask their students to expand the map creatively as an assignment.
3. Multimedia and Attachments
Digital mind mapping also allows you to integrate various types of media into your map. For example, MindMaple allows you to include hyperlinks and email links in your map, which is useful for doing internet research or organizing contacts. You can also include images and file attachments in your map, which are essential features when using mind maps for presentations, meetings, and planning projects.
Digital mind mapping simply offers improved flexibility, collaboration, and multimedia embedding. There are a variety of software tools, both free and paid, for digital mind mapping.
MindMaple Inc. offers two mind mapping tools—MindMaple Pro and the free MindMaple Lite. Both programs provide an attractive, easy-to-learn interface for mind mapping and both offer additional useful features. MindMaple Lite is available as a free download from the MindMaple website. MindMaple Pro, which includes additional features for design and export, is available from $9.99 a year. You can learn more about MindMaple at their website.