The primary problems I’ve encountered in writing this book include organizing my research and having the source information at my finger tips as I write. The source material includes scientific studies, newspaper articles, government reports, interviews, and so on. The number of discrete information items numbers in the thousands. In many respects, my problem is similar to any organization that wants to organize its “intellectual capital” into a readily accessible knowledge-base. And ultimately, this is the challenge of the Semantic Web: creating knowledge representation schemes so that individual pieces of information can be organized into a conceptual framework that allows the end-user to access meaningful categories of information, not just scattered pieces of information. When viewed in this context, my little problem of organizing information for my book is a nano-microcosm of a far larger problem of organizing all of the information available globally through the Web.
MindGenius (MG) has become a mission-critical solution to the problem of organizing my research – a true folly-buster. I have used other tools to gather information, such as EndNote, Evernote, and OneNote. But the search and retrieval across tools has proven impossible and I was losing track of what information was in which bucket. Because I had long been interested in mind-mapping software, I decided it was time to explore this option. I went online to look at the various products and quickly settled on the many cool features offered by MG. Having purchased MG a few months ago, I am more than pleased with the product and I keep finding new solutions for old problems.
My first use of MG was to organize my book chapters and chapter sections. Because MG is so visual, it was easy to put my thoughts on the screen, move them around, and re-formulate ideas. Having discovered the joy of outlining, I began to explore more advanced MG features, such as: categories; category maps; project management; resource management; cost allocations; and indexing. I did this through a variety of “test” applications (see Image 1).
- For example, I would create four Level 1 branches (A, B, C, D), then added Level 2 branches (A1, A2, A3; B1, B2, B3; C1, C2, C3; etc.), and then added additional levels.
- With this simple structure, I could play with building categories, assigning them to different items at different branch levels, and generate linked maps.
- I could then create category maps to see how the items grouped, and export these items to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Project Manager.
- Another important lesson I learned was that I could copy a branch and its sub-branches in one application and paste it (with all of its notes, categories and attachments) into another application. In other words, I could build new applications from earlier applications.
|Fig. 1 Sample Test App|
Please click for full screen view
Having developed fluency with MG, I returned to my book project and began transforming my book outline into a one-stop-shopping information repository. For each section within each chapter, I wrote the topic sentences as sub-branches. I also created sub-branches for each reference used in the section. I then attached the source document to the reference branch, or I could paste source text into the “notes” feature of the branch. The symbol of the pencil in the branch lets me know that I have populated the notes field (see image 2).