I recently came across an interesting article on the Eastgate Development website (home of the Tinderbox mapping and info management application for Mac OS X) about a concept called “information triage” that appears to have a lot of relevance to mind mapping.
Simply put, information triage is a continuous process of gathering, sorting through and making judgments about information, keeping what’s important and relevant, and discarding the rest.
Like hospital triage, which is focused on treating the most urgent medical cases first, information triage aims to identify the most important or relevant information to the challenge or project at hand.
Although you may have never heard of information triage before, you are undoubtedly familiar with the process. If you are a knowledge worker, chances are you do it almost every day in your work. Trying to keep up with the daily barrage of e-mails, meetings, projects and the other odds and ends of knowledge work is something like drinking from a fire hose. We need a system that will help us to decide what is important, which will enable us to focus more time and energy on the key priorities and projects that matter.
Mind mapping software is particularly well-suited to information triage, because it enables you to gather, organize, evaluate and take action on a fast amount of information, knowledge and ideas. It does this by giving you the power to move topics and subtopics around, attach notes, links and documents to them that provide meaning and context, and play “what if” with your ideas. No other type of software provides the power and flexibility offered by mind mapping software for manipulating information and ideas.
I strongly urge you to read this article. Although it is focused on notes, which are a linear form of recording information, the principles apply equally well to mind mapping software.