Our brain is mapping the world. Often that map is distorted, but it’s a map with constant immediate sensory input.
~E. O. Wilson
‘Mind Mapping’ is promoted as a brain-friendly way of mapping or noting our otherwise disordered thoughts and weaves of free-association, memories and magpied information drawn from countless, unattributable sources.
But is ‘Mind Mapping’ actually mapping at all? Well, I’d argue that it is, given that it has many of the attributes found in other forms of mapping. Mind Maps seek to achieve what any effective map seeks to do, namely capture a vast amount of information in a visually literate and articulate way that then helps us to remember/understand that information and make use of it.
Essentially mind mapping (for all the hype) boils down to being a strategy for recording our thinking in diagrammatic or pictorial form
Close you eyes and think for a moment and remember your last holiday… the places you visited… the people you met… the things you did…
Slowly open your eyes.
What was remembering like? Did you think in straight lines, in neat lists? Most probably not… More likely you remembered a few key pictures, which took you to more pictures which took you to hearing people’s voices, music or other sounds, and it connected you to emotions, prompting you to feel happy, excited, elated etc.
Mind Maps acknowledge the reality that we rarely think in straight lines, and that many of our thoughts are fleeting and may not last long.
Our eclectic and chaotic thoughts radiate in all directions.
Mind Mapping was never meant to replace linear note making, and once ideas and associations have been generated and organised and the whole pricture assembled then ‘radiant’ notes can often be turned into a linear form of writing. Mind maps function primarily as primary nets capturing our fleeting ideas and responses.
Cognitive psychology has shown that the mind best understands facts when they are woven into a conceptual fabric, such as a narrative, mental map, or intuitive theory. Disconnected facts in the mind are like unlinked pages on the Web: They might as well not exist. ~Steven Pinker