Monday, January 16, 2012
Googling Using Mind Maps
Whenever I want to learn something new I just fire up my browser and start googling. The wealth of information that floods into my browser can sometimes be overwhelming. There are usually tons of new terms and ideas that I've never heard of before. To keep from drowning in this sea of information I use mind maps to help me sort, breakdown and analyze my information. I stumbled onto this technique a couple of years ago at the height of the financial crises. I would read articles mentioning: "mortgage back securities", "credit default swaps", "collateralized debt obligation" and many more terms that I didn't have a clue what they meant. I started searching the internet and became buried in an avalanche of confusing information. Frustrated, I finally built a set of features in MindApp that allowed me to put the googled information into a mind map. Using the mind map like a set of structured notes I was quickly able to get a much better handle on the mess we were (are) really in. To see a snippet of this mind map click here.
As I discover new things, I copy and paste them into a mind map. Sometimes the map is organized into predefined categories but most often it grows organically and serendipitously. As the map grows I'm continuously reorganizing it. It lets me to see the big picture at a glance and is great way to see how the all the stuff fits together. It also gives me clues on what I might be missing and lets me keep track of where I've been.
The mind mapping software that you use should have several special features. First, you obviously need to be able to quickly and easily copy and paste from your browser into your mind map. Secondly, you will need to be able to copy and paste large amounts of text (maybe an entire article) into your mind map. Third, you don't want to lose the hyperlinks that are embedded within the copied text. Finally, the mind mapping software should keep track of the source web page of the copied text. MindApp which is mind mapping software free for non commercial use has of all these features and has a video showing you how to use them.