A software mind map is a special kind of diagram that has both a major strength and a major weakness when compared to other forms of diagram. Rather handily, the weakness can be adapted as a strength.
When armed with such a splendid hammer, advocates of software mapping start to see everything as a nail. Most will be familiar with the exasperated looks that are the reward for mapping out anything that has a pulse. Salvation lies in designing maps to achieve a specific purpose.
Two of the more common forms of diagram are trees and networks. Trees encompass organisation charts, mind maps, sequenced presentations or stories, fishbone diagrams and so on. Networks include block diagrams, flow charts and concept maps. (This is not an exhaustive list).
A major difference between a tree and a network is that the tree can be expanded and collapsed to reveal or hide detail, as it uses distance from the centre as a gauge of degree of detail. A tree is really only a one-dimensional picture, the second dimension being used as a "magnification" axis. If carefully designed, a tree can be viewed at different levels of magnification to suit the needs of different audiences. Networks do not have this characteristic, using both dimensions for information. Networks cannot change magnification quite as gracefully as trees.
But weighed against this is the fact that a tree is rarely an undisputed representation of the real world. Real life is more complex and interconnected, and we have to make compromises to represent it hierarchically. Complex pictures are needed to represent complex situations, and the over-simplification of trees can make them unsuitable for some purposes.
This weakness in trees can be turned into a strength by exploiting the fact that there is only one "centre" in a tree, compared to many in a network. The single centre can be used to provide focus and purpose, acknowledging that a tree is a special case of a network that has been arranged around a specific purpose.
When we interpret or react to a situation, we instinctively do so from our own point of view. When I am a cyclist, car drivers can be selfish and inconsiderate. When I am driving a car, cyclists can have bad attitude and be a danger to themselves. Same situation, different perspectives, and no one version of the truth. If you wanted to draw a map of this, a single map could not represent both views in a compelling way. You would need to decide your message was aimed at motorists or cyclists, by putting yourself in their position and adopting their perspective. So the focused nature of a map can be exploited to code much more than just information and facts - the design of it also represents points of view and objectives, allowing others to dispute or concur at a significantly deeper level.