Mind maps® were developed in the late 1960's by Tony Buzan, and they provide a refreshing non-linear way of organising one's ideas and thinking. (Note that Mind Maps is the Registered Trademark of the Buzan Organisation.)
To draw a mind map is very simple. You take a blank sheet of paper, and start in the middle with your main title or topic. You then work outwards in all directions, drawing branches for your major themes and sub-branches for more detailed ideas. The whole map is normally colour-coded and makes use of images and symbols. The chief advantage of mind-mapping over traditional linear thinking and note-taking is that it reflects the organic, associative way that the brain works (see Left Brain-Right Brain).
Some further key features of mind-mapping are as follows:
- They have a wide variety of applications, including note-taking, essay-writing and creative thinking. People also find them valuable for memorising information for examinations, and they can help avoid problems of information overload.
- Mind maps are useful for developing an understanding in a complex area, and for communicating your understanding to others. For example, in a Brainware workshop I developed a mind map in order to explore the ideas in the book Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance by Robert M Pirsig.
- Mind maps can be particularly useful for capturing your developing ideas as you work creatively on a problem, essay, workshop, project, public speaking engagement, etc. The end of each branch or sub-branch in the map provides the stimulus for fresh thinking and the attachment of new ideas.
- The Axon Idea Processor represents an interesting computerised development of mind-mapping ideas, with information representations being extended into three dimensions. And the present BrainWareMap draws heavily on the same organic, associative principles which are fundamental to mind maps (see Design Concepts).
You are strongly recommended to obtain some coloured felt-tipped pens and try your hand at mind-mapping. Most people find this a most liberating and enjoyable experience. You don't have to use mind maps all the time, but for some purposes and in some situations they can be invaluable.
For further information about mind-mapping see:
- Buzan Centres - Mind Map Gallery
Mind Maps by Peter Russell
Open Directory Project - Mind Mapping
Mind Mapping with Tony Buzan (YouTube, 6 min.)