Saturday, December 26, 2009

From Fringe to Mainstream

Why after almost 40 years; do we have to explain what Mind mapping is to almost every colleague, client and potential we meet?

Most (not all admittedly) who look over my shoulder while I am graphically mapping out information, invariably ask, “What is that”. It does become rather tedious after a while; doesn’t it?

But, as a consultant and trainer, I persevere with this question numerous times, and I go through the same old same old process of taking some through a discovery, which undoubtedly changes their perception of how they may create, manage and exchange knowledge.

But it’s true; after almost 40 years we still have to actually explain away Mind mapping. And, the truth of the matter is; we’ve moved way beyond Mind mapping since its inception and have been exposed to the tools, methods and Mindset of multiple format Visual mapping. For some; an evolution towards Knowledge mapping has been the result of exposure to many Visual mapping approaches.

“Visual mapping includes but is not limited to Mind, concept, flow and argument mapping” And of course; there are many other tools that enhance our graphical expressiveness.

A generational shift is taking place regarding current perceptions of how data, information and knowledge processes are handled in associated with, the nature and implications of systematic and systems thinking. Mind mapping can, has and does assist with this generational shift.

As much as we haven’t experienced a wholesale adoption of Mind mapping at even the base level outwith the enthusiasts within focus groups, I firmly believe we may have missed the point of the range of Mind and Visual mapping products. I'm absolutely sure it was never the intention of Mr. Buzan to enable people to perpetually visit a graphical framework, making it look even more colorful and pleasing to the eye.

“Information Management” is the core of the tools, methods and Mindset of Information and Knowledge mapping. If we accept that Data (which is made up of numbers, words and images) when aggregated becomes information (when contextualized), eventually becomes relevant Knowledge; we are somewhat on the way to realizing the true nature of process and system.

So as we move forwards, I encourage you to consider expressing your thoughts, feelings and desired actions for taking the full range of Visual mapping tools, methods and mindset to the mainstream. Please consider joining us at a growing LinkedIn group named Visualmapper; here you’ll find many professional Visual mappers from varied backgrounds, ranging from consultants, to Academics through corporate business and software development. Your opinions matter, so please jump in a make your voice heard.

As much as I refrain from making any predictions for this arena, I firmly believe we’ll see a few products make their mark and many simply fail.

Apart from the cloud seducing more users into giving up their IP to remote servers, I firmly believe the following tools shall become more notable and used by the forward thinking information manager.

The collage viewed below was used in a previous post to indicate software choices for the information manager. It shows a viable range of tools that delivers the needs and wants for the information manager now and in the future for sure. There's actually a few within the collage that are questionable as to their future viability and success within the software development arena for mind/visual mapping.

In particular keep your discerning eyes on Mindsystems, Mind mapper, ConceptDraw, NovaMind and the deserved leader of the pack Mindjet MindManager. The cloud is developing exponentially and I certainly see applications such as Comapping, Mindmeister and Webspiration delivering more mobile functionality for those of us who’ve had enough of being chained to desktop reliance.