I’ve been experimenting with mindmapping software to graphically show trajectories and thematic clusters in my dissertation. So far, I think it may turn out pretty helpful, showing a lot of connections graphically that are really difficult to explain verbally—putting “mosaic” thinking in discursive form is the biggest difficulty (aside from the constant need for citation) I’ve been facing in my work for some time. I’m hoping this will provide some help in that department, both from an organization perspective on my side and as a graphical element of the dissertation itself. (I learned a big lesson about the utility of such things in the review process for my forthcoming JBL article when one of the referees really struggled to understand one of the basic premises of the argument without graphical help—in that case I wound up using Venn Diagrams.)
I’m looking into buying MindNode Pro from the Mac App Store after spending some time with MindNode, but I first made some suggestions to the developer that I’d like to see happen before I spend any money on it:
- I’d like to be able to connect multiple parents to a given child node; for the kinds of mindmapping and schematizing I’m doing, this is indispensable. A node should allow me to create “forwards” (child node) as it does now AND “backwards” (a new “parent”) that would connect to another web of ideas.
- As a part of that, I’d like to be able to connect two nodes from different webs more directly without the dotted line that denotes a loose (unrelated) connection; this is really just a continuation of the above idea. I like the ability to do the dotted line, but it’s important to be able to do both.
- It would be good to add the ability to place “areas” on the canvas, where a given web or sections of a schema might be surrounded by a circle (or other geometric shape) denoting that they’re all part of a larger whole that defines that area of the mind map — sort of like combining a Venn diagram with a mind map.
Is there anyone out there who uses mindmapping software for similar purposes? Which apps/programs do you suggest? What has worked best in your experience?