Visualizing thoughts:July 15, 2013
Computing has always been about numbers. A number to denote ‘ON’ and another to denote ‘OFF’. And more of these numbers to denote string and sequences of meaning. But somewhere down the line I happened to stumble upon the art of data visualization which in simple terms means, interpreting data as visuals and not just an infinite series of numbers. The art of data visualization opened my eyes to the idea of visualizing complex phenomena around us. And on one of such research expeditions on the internet, I stumbled upon Mindmaps.
A mindmap is a visual representation of a thought or an idea. What could actually take pages to describe can be put down in a simple, easy to comprehend diagram. Popularized by author and television personality Tony Buzlan, the mind map can be used to outline business plans or even trace the development of an idea. The mind can easily remember visuals than words or numbers. We often remember a face or a place but falter at remembering what it is called. A mindmap works in a similar fashion. Create a picture of a thought and the mind remembers it in a better way.
A mindmap starts with a central idea or a word. Building on this central theme, colorful images and shapes build a complete web of understanding this central theme. A mindmap can be drawn on a sheet or paper or can be created using specialized software. A sample mind map looks like this:
Apart from visually representing an idea, mindmaps find other varied uses such as representing processes/ frameworks, building strategies, education, team building etc. Research has shown that students using mindmaps score better than ones using linear education techniques. Additionally mind maps serve as an excellent memory tool as well for day to day activities.
Several tools and easy to use apps are available for creating mindmaps and using them in day to day life, the most poular being Freemind. Using these maps however requires at least some amount of training so the mind moves away from the already accepted linear learning to the visual aspect. As the world moves towards an information overload, the mindmap makes for the perfect weapon to organize, visualize and work on multiple ideas and thoughts.
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