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December 02, 2003



I always come to your blog and go, ahh. There's hope in the world.


Can you comment on the differences you see between mindmapping and using a good outliner?

Avi Solomon

Mind Mapping Software and More!:
Axon Idea Processor

Avi Solomon

See also:
Robert Horn on Visual Language

Logo Visual Technology



Outlines are linear and hierarchical. It's difficult to represent lateral connections.

Say I were doing the building blocks "I am passionate about ____ because ___, ___, ___..." exercise. I notice that "challenging" and "visible progress" show up under both programming and karate. In a mind map I can make that theme more explicit, by circling all the instances of a theme in a particular color, or connecting them with lines. I could label that connection "CHALLENGING" and start a whole new branch about what that means to me. And then I can embellish that with drawings or comments ("BOOyeah!") or other things that aren't data points but further capture the idea.

All that could be converted to an outline, but it would lose something.


Janet, thanks. I've always thought "what's the big deal, it's just a spread-out outline," but your description helps me understand. I've put a 'hold' on Buzan's book at the local library and will give it an honest trial.

Are any of the mindmapping software packages better/worse in your (the collective "your" here, Curt and other readers) experience?

Curt Rosengren

Thanks for answering Steven's question, Janet! And a much more eloquent and informed answer than I could have given, at that. (mmmmmmm...pretty circles...oooooooohhh).

I love it when community starts to happen. :)

And for the record, Mr. Analog Boy here uses his handy dandy whiteboard for his mind-mapping endeavors, so I can offer zippo, zilch, zero insights on that one.

your faithful luddite host,



Hi Steven-

A friend speaks highly of MindMapper, which she uses on her PDA.

I tried a shareware package a couple years ago and quickly stopped using it. It took a lot of fussing to make it look the way I wanted, which stole my focus, and it wasn't very expressive.

Oh, another strength of mind mapping is it encourages brainstorming. I use outlines to organize ideas once they're generated, but they're so structured that they dampen the brainstorming fire. I, II, A, B, i, ii... it's like having to raise your hand in class.

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