New cKM, NodeXL and Twiddla

Three new items at this week: cKM, NodeXL and Twiddla

Collaborative Knowledge Management (cKM)

cKM is a concept mapper that works in Second Life.  It is aimed at enterprises engaged in collaborative knowledge creation.  Its price places it well out of the reach of the casual user, but it is not hard to see that it could be valuable in the hands of a creative far-flung team.


NodeXL is a freebie from Microsoft Research that allows datapoints in an Excel spreadsheet to be displayed as a network.

(Click the image to see it full size – it’s worth a look)


Twiddla is a whiteboard collaborative platform – web based and graphical with support for uploading documents, shape drawing, email and, of course, chat.

Vic Gee  (@VicGee on Twitter)
The master list of mind mapping &
information management software

Google adds Debategraph, Maltego, MindBerry and Prezi

This week on, I have added four new visual thinking tools, Debategraph, Maltego, MindBerry and Prezi.


This is a wiki tool that allows public debates to be conducted in a visual environment.



Described as a forensics application for the mining, gathering and representation of information in a meaningful way, this is a flexible development of an application once known as ‘Evolution’.



Mind mapping for the BlackBerry.  AFAIK the sole offering on that phone, compared with at least eight for the iPhone.  Must be cool to have the market to yourself!



Prezi is a beautifully designed and elegant zooming approach to presentations.  Freedom from PowerPoint’s one-screen-after-another at last, offering a fluid flow through the ideas to be exhibited.


The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


TreeSheets – fast, visual organisation for notes

Did you notice that my last post about new items in mentioned eight items but there were actually more in the database?  . . . . oh never mind.

That’s because I was playing with a new entry that fitted a need I had, and chatting back and forth with its very capable developer, Wouter van Oortmerssen, as he tweaked it and even kindly met a few of my requests.

This is an outliner . .  umm . . no, it’s a treemap . . . or maybe a spreadsheet.  Well, none of them and a little bit of all of them.  It’s TreeSheets, and I can only describe it as a new paradigm in capturing and organizing notes.  More visual and flexible than outlines, less diagrammatic than mind maps and much more interesting than spreadsheets.  And fast.  Did I mention fast?

Some background on why I like this little application.

I use MindManager for mind mapping, Topicscape for organizing very large globs of information and Notepad++ for capturing those thought, ideas and tasks that pop into the mind from time to time, ready to be dropped somewhere else later.

For those who haven’t used it, Notepad++ is a fast, free application that’s quick and simple, like Windows’ own Notepad, but more capable and useful.  I have a text file on the shared desktop of my main PC and a Quick Launch link to it on all the PCs in my office that I use.  So that tool beloved of practitioners of GTD – the single collection bucket – is quickly to hand wherever I am.  Well, almost single, there are the notes in my iPhone too.

But being a mind mapper, the last thing I really want from an ideas and notes dump is a long, linear list.  And that’s where TreeSheets comes in.  It has structure, it can express hierarchy and it has, to some extent, visual layout.  It can even store images.  Try that with Notepad++.

It is a kind of outliner in the sense that items are indented according to their level.  It’s a species of treemap in the sense that it displays a hierarchy as nested rectangles, making each level smaller to occupy a fixed space: It has notes inside notes down to… well I have no idea. I took it to 20 levels, it showed no sign of flagging but I got bored.  It has a touch of the spreadsheet because it starts as a plain, empty grid of cells, but then gets interesting.

TreeSheets overcomes the problem of deep nesting by continually reducing font size as the nested cells go deeper, all the way to 1 pixel (or less, for all I know).  Ridiculous, you think?  So did I, till I discovered that a simple swoosh of the mousewheel lets you zoom in and focus on a grid that, moments before, was all but invisible.

So now I have TreeSheets on all the PCs I use, and a link to my master sheet has replaced the link to the text file in the Quick Launch toolbars.

You’re probably wondering about the price.  Is Vic in on the affiliate selling schemes now then, with all this praise?  Is this going to link to one of those endless pages with yellow highlighting where you have to give your email address and pay $100 to get this exciting new product?

Well no actually, it’s free.  And Wouter doesn’t even ask for your email.

It’s still in development and there’s a new version every few days – just today I had an email from Wouter to say it can now print a sheet “with page setup, preview.. the works. Even does decent PDFs..”

I hope you like it as much as I do.

The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


Cohere, Headspace, iThoughts, Jambalaya, Lovely Charts, ThinkDigits, TPAssist, Webspiration

It’s been a month since the last update to, and the list of items to add has built up more sharply than usual so I decided it was time to clear the decks.  Apart from anything else, iPhone is keeping mindmappers busy with low-cost software to play with and there’s a new and imaginative application appearing every few days it seems.

Cohere is a browser based collaborative visual thinking tool that allows many users to develop discussions and arguments on line and has more than a hint of concept maps about it.

This iPhone application occupies the space partway between a 3D outliner and a mind mapper.

This is an impressive attempt to bring mind mapping to the screen of the iPhone.  

I have successfully imported large FreeMind maps to iThoughts.  With such a tiny screen, a large map is hard to make use of, but that can’t be blamed on iThoughts.

Jambalaya is a plug-in for Protégé that allows domain experts to building knowledge-based systems to visualize ontologies.

Lovely Charts
A free basic diagrammer that works in your browser and has subscription-based collaboration options.

This is a fascinating fusion of information mapping and calculation.  Numbers in a calculator are normally pure abstraction, and this gives them real world context.  True creativity.

TPassist is an add on for MindManager aimed at enhancing time, task and project management using mind maps.

This web based version of Inspiration is now in public Beta, and free for now.

To see all the latest additions, just follow this link to additions to since 14th February 2009.

Vic Gee
The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


Expand mind mapping – competition result

Here at last are the results of the competition to come up with an idea for expanding the world of mind mapping.

John Taylor‘s map suggests:

  1. Provide more integration of mind mapping software with common business software
  2. Practitioners to use it visibly and extol it – empowers fluid thought
  3. Thought leaders to work together, to bring mind mapping in from the fringes
  4. Analyse the barriers: thought patterns; software cost; market limitations

Here is John’s map “Envision” (click for a full-sized view):

Chance Brown, author of the submitted a map that gave an analysis of mind mapping’s visual impact on the understanding and management of information, as well as describing maps and defining the components.  This is a map that manages to be at the same time comprehensive and yet economically expressed.

Here is Chance’s map “Mindmapping can help you” (click for a full-sized view):

Paul Foreman, mindmapper-extraordinary and publisher of sent me a mind map bursting with ideas.  Let me list the ones that stood out for me:

  1. Distribution of a calendar with a mind map for each month.
  2. An annual competition involving mind maps (there’s already something like this that the Buzan Organization runs, but not sure if it’s annual).
  3. TV documentary or YouTube video series celebrating lives of achievers,
  4. Mentoring with mind maps,
  5. Exposure on breakfast cereal packets,  [lovely! but how? – Vic]
  6. Tell one mapper to tell five other non-mappers about the benefits and methods.

Here is Paul’s map “Exponential growth” (click for a full-sized view):

@mdalves proposed “What about Dr. Gregory House mind-mapping their brainstorms instead of writing boring lines of text? People would talk, ask about it, discuss in the forum, imitate him and start mind mapping on their own.”  Terrific leverage here, if it could be done.

Matthew Lang, who has a journal on mind mapping, visual thinking and ruby development suggests that mind mappers with their own sites and blogs should work together to spread the word.  His suggestion of how they should do this has four key elements:

  1. They contribute their favourite mind map to an e-book, with a description and their thoughts about benefits.
  2. This to be highlighted on each contributor’s web site.
  3. It would be promoted in all our emails and other forms of communication like Twitter, Pownce and other social networking sites.
  4. A very simple website should be setup where people can read about mind mapping and download the e-book.

Brian P. Donnelly of took a very different approach – folding the ideas behind the Semantic Web into mind mapping software.  This would be an amazingly useful capability if he can achieve it in his company’s software, which he offered to do.  Certainly, if mind mapping software becomes much more useful, and in different ways, its use will spread.  Keep us posted on progress Brian, I’m sure there are many who would be willing to try this out.  Brian’s software has a demo page.

Darina Stoyanova squeeked in with a last minute entry of a map made with iMindmap itself following the always-reliable Where? What? Who? Why? How? theme.  This analyzed potential areas to explore and gave a clear view of the potential and benefits of mind mapping.

Here is Darina’s map “Mind Mapping Exponential growth” (click for a full-sized view):


My own thoughts are that to achieve a real effect, mind mapping must be ‘normalized’ – be shown to be something that people do routinely.

I liked the suggestion very much from @mdalves that an example of mind mapping coming up on a TV program would have the greatest impact.  The leverage would come from mind mapping being seen as a part of popular culture and has the potential to be the approach that provides exponential growth. But … and it’s  big ‘but’, the barrier at present is that I don’t have the contacts in the industry to put it into effect and no one has volunteered any information on how communications might be opened.  Anyone in California have friends in the TV or movie industries?

I agree with one of the points on John’s mind map that software integration can be a barrier to some uses of mind maps.  That was the thinking behind a past project of the assembly of an extensive reference source about the interoperability of mind mapping software (recently updated).


For the immediate practicality of his suggestion, and the detailed thought about the method that he put into it, Matthew Lang suggestion comes out on top, for me.  The results of this competition have shown that we can gather the community of bloggers and mind map commentators together, so I believe we can build this e-book, publicise it and promote it in a co-ordinated effort.  And perhaps we can roll a pdf calendar into that, using some of the same material, and bring one of Paul’s suggestions to life that way.

So I declare the winner of the competition to be Matthew Lang.  Let us hope that the winners overall turn out to be the people who could benefit from mind mapping if only they knew about it.  I shall notify the iMindmap people shortly, and Matthew should receive his iMindmap Ultimate licence soon afterwards.

Next Actions

I now need to do a mind map plan on how to put this into effect.  It’s a busy time of year, so it will probably take a week or so to set time aside for this.  Anyone who wants to volunteer to get involved, please drop me an email at vic {at} mind-mapping {dot} org.

Thanks for all those who contributed ideas or commented, and to those who linked to the original competition post, to help get the word out about this.


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The competition: Where we are now?

I thought a review of comments and communications would be good at this half-way point of the competition, after I followed the suggestion to extend it.

The response is encouraging and some good ideas are coming out.  This is how the suggestions have built up so far, most recent first:

Chance Brown has posted a comment about his map setting out the advantages and nature of mind mapping called “How Mindmapping Can Help You.”  If potential mind map users don’t see what’s in it for them, they won’t try mind mapping, so this map is important.  Can you add to it, dear reader?

Paul Foreman emailed me another entry called “EG” for “Exponential Growth“.  This aims directly at ideas for expanding the numbers of people who know about mindmapping – a key need.  Please look at this in detail and see if it sparks further ideas.

Matthew Lang wrote that mind mappers with their own sites and blogs should work together to get the word out, contribute their favourite mind map to an e-book, with a description and their thoughts about benefits.  This would be highlighted on each contributor’s web site and be promoted in all our emails and other forms of communication like Twitter, Pownce and other social networking sites. A very simple website should be setup where people can read about mind mapping and download the e-book.  I believe this is a good idea because it is very do-able.  Would it work for you?  Comments please!

@mdalves saw a picture of Dr. Gregory House writing linear notes on a flip-chart and thought “this is the answer to Vic’s question!”  Send a direct message to the general public, he says.  “What about Dr. Gregory House mind-mapping their brainstorms instead of writing boring lines of text? People would talk, ask about it, discuss in the forum, imitate him and start mind mapping on their own.”  Whilst this would not be easy to put into practice, if we could achieve it, it would have the greatest leverage and effect I believe.  Any ideas on how we might get the message over to a TV producer, and how we could motivate them?

John Taylor emailed this mind map with the modest comment “My small attempt.”  John proposes tighter integration between mind mapping and other types of software; mind mappers openly using the technique and describing its benefits as a matter of routine; thought leaders in the field making a collective effort; and an analysis of barriers to expansion with a response.

Oprah has written about mindmapping, and apparently Al Gore does it.  Any leverage there folks??



Win a free copy of iMindMap and help spread mind mapping

I have a free license for Buzan’s iMindmap* to give away for the best answer to a competition.  This is it:

Many, many people have never heard of mind mapping.  Others have heard of it but have no idea what it is or how it might help them.

Write a comment to this post (and/or send a mind map!) suggesting how to achieve exponential growth in the numbers of people doing mind mapping.  This needs an idea that will motivate committed visual information mappers and at the same time can leverage the whole mind mapping community to get the word out, explain, demonstrate, tell stories, show all different styles of maps, all uses. 

I shall judge the winning suggestion (my decision will be final!) and pass (only) the winner’s name and email address to Buzan Online so that they can deliver the license.  Judgement will be based on originality, practicality and opportunities to obtain best leverage of existing mappers’ contacts.  If you decide to send a mind map to illustrate your ideas or thinking, please send a png or jpg image to vic [at] mind-mapping [dot] org.  I will arrange for it to be embedded in comments (max width 540 pixels).

This competition will run from 4th October to 3rd [updated] November December inclusive.

Vic Gee
The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


PS  You probably know that some people know about mind mapping or other visual information mapping techniques and do not like them, and will not use them because they have their own thinking style.  They find that visual representation gets in the way and they don’t need introducing to it.  I’m sure we all respect that and got over it long ago. 

These are not the people this competition aims to find ways to reach out to.   VG

iMindMap Ultimate  (£149 ‘recommended retail price’)


The business of idea mapping

I’ve written before about how Mastering mind mapping can help at work  especially as recession looms. Well now, Chuck Frey has interviewed Jamie Nast on a closely-related topic.  Chuck has entitled the piece “Learn to think visually – or else”.

Jamie says “To this day the majority of people have not heard of mind mapping or idea mapping”.  This is amazing, but true, and it’s what motivates me most in maintaining as a directory of information mapping software, repository of articles, and a go-to place for information about visual thinking.  And I regularly comment on blogs all over the web to get the message out about different ways of seeing and presenting ideas, plans, creativity and information.

We’ve heard Buzan say that mind maping has gone mainstream, but sadly, it really hasn’t yet, though it is increasingly popping up in unexpected corporate environments. Two of the people responsible for that are Nast and Frey!

Vic Gee
The master list of mind mapping &
information management software


Where e’er you be let your mind roam free

Up to now, I would have said that uses of mind maps could fit under four main categories: Learning and teaching; creative idea generation and brainstorming; planning and managing tasks or projects; and organising  information.  Always in these, we would expect the items under a branch to be logically related to concepts or topics higher in the hierarchy.

But now, I’ve seen signs in two places of another direction.  Not an attempt to replace the others, but something refreshingly new in mind maps (to me anyway): Free association.

Mikky J has a poem and mind map combined called “Frozen” where he free associates his way down each branch.  Mikky asks people not to copy it, so please follow the link above to see it.

And Paul Foreman, who has appeared in the blog before, has a “flip it” mind map where, to fight off negative thinking, he suggests we reverse words, and look for free associations that reverse the starting point to become a positive thought.

My favourite branch is the one for “bored”.  Paul allows copying if there’s a link back as well, so you can take a look by clicking on the thumbnail here or the link above:


Always good to see creative new ways of using mind maps.


(With apologies to the person whose famous epitaph I paraphrased in the title.)



Now listen up, this one is really interesting if you value visualization and thinking tools.  And I doubt if you’d be at if you didn’t.

A new web-based tool for thinking, Exploratree, went up at the end of last year.  It’s aimed at students, but I’m sure that those of more mature years could sometimes make good use of the many visual thinking guides on this site.  It has something of the feel of de Bono’s CoRT about it, but is visual rather than acronym/text-based.

There are 23 read-made thinking guides like these:


and you can make your own thinking guides as well.  But not a mind map or concept map in sight.  You work with these in Exploratree’s free, on line tool, and after you’ve registered, you can save them.


PS     Wish I could think of names like that.  Hints of “exploratory”, “exploring laboratory”, a “tree for exploring”  ….