I find so-called "mind-maps" and "concept-maps" useful in thinking about certain issues. Visualizing relationships between people, concepts, theories, or problems allows me to "see" things I otherwise might not have thought of. I have been using software to make mind maps for many years. Come to think of it, I never really used mind maps on paper. After trying out some other contenders, I began using MindManager when it was still shareware and called Mindman (in 1996, I think, but it may have been 1997 or 1995).
I am very skeptical about the pseudo-psychological concepts—like "right-brained thinking"—which seem to inform the thinking of many developers and advocates of mind mapping. There are also many who believe that mind maps are good tools for large-scale note-taking. I am not one of them. In fact, I think that the kind of visualization they allow of is best for small-scale projects.
Nor am I sure about the claims concerning the kind of "delinearized" thinking they are supposed to allow. In my opinion, linear thinking has always been difficult to achieve, and what people popularly refer to as "linear thinking" is not thinking at all
But, in spite of all my skepticism about some of the hype that goes with mind maps, I find these visualized outlines serve a definite purpose.
For large-scale visualizations other methods seem to be better. (More about that in a future post.)
I have not upgraded MindManager since version 2002, and I am not likely to do so in the future, since the price for the upgrade far outstrips its usefulness for me. Here is a mind map on Luhmann's card index I made some time ago:
Click on image to enlarge!
When I am done with a mind map, I usually save it as a jpg file and import it into ConnectedText.