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Thank you for your thoughtful post about how the structure that a mind map provides does so even in a non-content mode.

Another power of the structure that also emerges is an ability to treat the structure as separate from the content and to use that to be able to revise and clarify thinking. Let me explain.

As the former English teacher, I know that one of the real problems in teaching writing is to get the parallelism straight in the idea. For example, a list of things to do should all start with the verb, or a description of what you want to accomplish should all be embedded in goals. The things to do and the goals are highly related, but they are not interchangeable. But when people start to write things out, they often get interchanged.

I don't believe that mind mapping would help so much as a person is "brainstorming" their list of subentries, and, maybe this is not the place to be critical anyway. But where the structure of mind mapping does help is when a person reviews -- and reflects -- upon what they have written out. It is then that the structure help makes it clear that apples and oranges are both in that list.

With that, a person could make two lists -- one for goals and one for actions -- and began to see the interrelationships between the two.

Thank you for your blog. I look forward to your posts.

Nash K


I've been using mind-maps for a few years now, and find this a very effective tool for brainstorming, drfating reports, speeches and other 'creative' stuff. However, I'm somehow unable to take 'notes' using mind-maps. I find it too distracting to draw a mind-map when concentrating on what people have to say.


While in medical school, following years as an engineer, I came to appreciate the issue of spatial versus textual communication. Engineering tends to be above-average in spatial concepts. Medicine CAN as well, but sometimes there are summary materials, 'cheat sheets,' inexpensive booklets or handouts that are topheavy in prose. Its limited value is apparent to a person who depends upon the spatial realm.

Each person's spatial and textual abilities can be assessed. Spatial ability can be much more reliably assessed. Why? Consider the following.

Mankind has spoken language for quite a long time. If a person cannot converse in one's native tongue, he's considered retarded -- this has been the case for millenia - - and reflects man's rather natural capacity for ORAL language. On the other hand, if a person cannot converse via reading and writing, he's considered illiterate - - and it's usually due to lack of education. Until the invention of the printing press, illiteracy was strikingly common.

Conclusion: ORAL language is an immensely more ancient tool than is TEXTUAL language, and spatial ability is far older than language. The spatial elements in maps draw upon human abilities that are ancient, far-encompassing, and considerably more natural... ...than is textual material.

Language as text has become a quite valuable TOOL to mankind, but the tool is far more recent than other tools such as oral language, clothing or shelter, fire, wheels, or communication-connected-societies.

The "map" concept helps get us out of a rut in which a good idea(the use of TEXT within its areas of strength) has gone too far. Written material which is text-dominant no longer compliments these other tools. It's fine for novels, in which we read not to deal with a lot of facts, but to EXPERIENCE the details of everyday life in the arena of a different time and place.

Consequently the map approach is useful when we have several relationships among lots of concepts.

Richard Ames

Interesting. I think, however, that although the map appears to provide more information than the paragraphed words, it also gives rise to greater dangers. As you said yourself, a map will give rise to "expectations for patterns". This can be blinding too, and can lead eventually to obtaining less, not more, information from the map.

Dave Gray

This is an excellent demonstration of how visual structure conveys meaning. Of course maps can mislead as easily as text -- the quality of the map still depends on the skill of the mapmaker!

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