One of the things I try to learn about a new mind mapping software program is the thinking behind it: Why has the developer created it? What unmet customer needs does it fill? What makes it unique or better than the existing programs on the market? Considering the large number of mind mapping software programs available today, I think this information is critically important for you to know.
When I asked these questions of Chris Griffiths, director of Buzan Online Ltd. – the developer of the new iMindMap application – here’s what he had to say:
"The idea was to create software that allows one to Mind Map without getting in the way of the actual thinking process. Mind Mapping is possibly the most effective way of transferring information into and out of our brains. Computers are now changing the way we think. We know far more about the brain today than we did ten years ago. We know that using the left and right sides of our brain together is far more powerful than leaning towards one or the other. Computers tend to lead us to left brain thinking, i.e., words, logic, numbers, sequence, linearity, lists etc. This doesn’t allow us to maximise the potential of our brain. Try running without moving one side of your body. You fall flat on your face. The same is true if you only use one side of the brain. The challenge was to create software that was the whole brain alternative to linear thinking when using a computer. It required us to produce a solution where the technology followed the process and did not result in the process being restricted by how the technology was implemented.
"Tony’s work across 50 countries has provided overwhelming evidence that Mind Mapping using his guidelines works. He is one of the world’s leaders in terms of understanding how the brain works. Over the last decade The Buzan Organisation has strived to find a way to ‘bridge the gap’ between the human brain and the computer brain. Effective Mind Mapping is about freedom, portability, visual variety, colour and association. iMindMap is the cumulative result of The Buzan Organisation’s work and experience in trying to find a way to allow someone to Mind Map on a computer in a brain friendly manner. Tony didn’t want software that created the map for you. It had to enable the user to create truly organic personal Mind Maps. To force a user to work within a rigid framework, or to allow the software to control the design of the actual map, would go against everything the Buzan Organisation has learnt about how the brain works. Computer generated linear looking maps are simply not as stimulating to the brain as colourful organic looking Mind Maps. In addition, came the necessity to combine this organic approach with the benefits of using a computer. The combination of human and computer brains, when communicating synergistically, multiplies our mental potential exponentially.
"iMindMap is the culmination of Tony’s work and knowledge on the subject of Mind Mapping, the term he invented several decades ago that has touched the lives of millions. It is software that actually helps you think. A thinking tool for any thinking task – at work, home, school or play. We hope iMindMap will appeal to everyone, from young children to chief executives.
"What is important is not so much that iMindMap helps you create beautiful organic mind maps, but ‘how’ it allows you to do so. It is the ‘process’ that is all important."
I always assumed that Tony Buzan wasn’t a fan of software-generated mind maps. But he is, as long as these maps approximate the creativity, color and imagery of a hand-drawn map. There’s also the matter of how the map is created. In iMindMap, you drag a new topic node forth from an existing one, giving the user an organic experience that is akin to adding new topics to a hand-drawn map. As you can see from Chris’ comments, the process of creating a visual map is more important to Buzan than the map itself, because it’s this process stimulates the brain’s ability to think creatively. An interesting perspective on mind mapping software, wouldn’t you agree?