Experiments with MindMapping

I’ve been experimenting with various forms of note taking recently. I keep my daily diary on my wiki, but struggle to capture my every note there, because of the editing overhead, and requirement to be online (which I often am not during meetings, for example). So I have tried Evernote, which seems to work very nicely. The online requirement is gone, and I can take quick notes on my phone too (better for meetings). However, if I want to record these notes easily on the wiki, I have to adhere to wiki syntax in my note taking which can be a bit of a pain outside of that environment.

I’ve noticed a few people that I work with using Mind Mapping software recently, and the approach intrigued me. So I looked through FriendFeed for what different people were using (useful as a fast, informal survey of the tools available), and downloaded a couple to tinker with (FreeMind and XMind, for the record). Of these, XMind is the more polished tool, and allows you to share your maps once you have created them. I decided to give it a thorough test run at a workshop meeting in Manchester today. I’ve embedded the results below.

I’m quite impressed. It allows me to record detailed notes, and also to have a visual representation of how the various topics fit together. The XMind upload & share facility allows me to embed the final map in my wiki (or blog, obv.), and the outline view of the map is actually a good textual representation of the meeting too.

XMind is not going to be a solution for every situation. Often, pen & paper will still be used in meetings, and transcription to some electronic format will still be required. The fastest way of recording these types of notes will probably still be directly on the wiki. In the end, a mixture of tools seems the best approach overall, but for all day meetings/conference sitations, XMind seems like a very good tool.

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