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Brainstorming is a pretty well known technique - typically, as you probably know, a group of people or an individual has a beginning point which branches off in all directions. Those branches have subsequent branches, etc etc. Typically, though, it does not order them or keep on track of them.
Anyone who's done office work is probably familiar with walls full of post-its upon post-its, each with ideas or comments on the previous post-it. The nature of the human brain, says Mindgenius' Dustin Newport, is chaotic and that's why these techniques work for us. We can instantly jot down any idea, and later organise them along with notes and try to make sense of them, to eventually form into a linear structure that's easier to make sense of.
MindGenius 3.1 does this for you. Instead of plonking down every idea randomly, MindGenius works in sequence to create a digital "mind map" so you can easily see where ideas have come from, where they're going, later group them into categories with the click of a button, and eventually filter them down into what you need, easily and digitally.
The idea, says Dustin, is to "support a gathering of thoughts with a view for output." MindGenius caters, a la brainstorming, to how chaotically the human mind works and groups ideas, but makes it simple and easy to view them back on screen. Computers and computer applications work in a very left-brained, linear way - lists and organising. Of course, the right side of the human brain is visual and creative, and it's proved that memory is increased tenfold when presented data visually.
Your blank MindMap starts with one keyword. When your word association kicks in, simply type in the next keyword and MindGenius will branch it off to the right. Keep going, and you'll have more branches than you know what to do with, each of which can be branched off themselves.
Here's the demo map for reference:
Best of all, once you've grouped your categories, or done what you like with your map, you can export it seemlessly to Excel, Word or Enterprise with all your data neatly arranged according to your filters, selected categories or keywords. It's also possible to export your map to an HTML file for easy sharing, with a basic framed template and a table on the side with all listed categories and sub-categories. It works the other way round too - spreadsheets can be loaded into the map and organised that way.
Trying out MindGenius, the only thing that's tough about it is getting used to typing brief keywords instead of notes. It works on the Microsoft Office Ribbon UI so should be familiar to most, and fit in easily with all other office applications.
There is infinite scalability which means you can add as many notes as you want, hundreds, thousands, or even more. We were demonstrated how the entire coding of MindGenius itself fit into a MindMap - there were over 10,000 entries and it was easy to zoom from the front end way into the tiniest intricacies.
The most obvious potential use for MindGenius is business execs - it's an easy way to show plans to clients and quickly involve them in the positioning of notes or points. It can also be broadcast over Netviewer or WebEx, giving direct access to a plan to an entire organisation without the need for sending around PowerPoint files or amends - planning can be shown in realtime.
While MindGenius certainly has value for the average computer user - be it to keep notes or simply keep more organised - the users who will gain the most will be project managers, business professionals with a need for easy presentation and organisation, and crucially, University students. Compare a MindMap to any given student's notepad from your nearest Uni and there will be a big difference when it comes to ease of indexing and organising output.
Personally I found it an intriguing and useful tool, impressively coded, but perhaps not for my field of work. I'm too trained into scribbling down every thought of mine in cumbersome language to untrain myself and rely on quick and easy keywords, though I suspect it will differ for many.
It's definitely worth a try if you're not the most organised person, or worth a try anyway. A free 30 day trial with full functionality is available on the MindGenius website.