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SnapSession – The Brain (mind-mapping tool)

As promised previously, I tested a product called The Brain. It is a mind-mapping tool and, to be honest, it blows away all of the others I looked it. They have a 30-day free trial of the PRO version and once that expires, you get the basic functions unless you pony up.

I remembered seeing this a few years ago and thinking it was pretty cool but, at the time, had no application for it. I’d forgotten all about it until the need for a mind-mapping tool came up.

It took me about 5 minutes (of my 15 minute allotment) to set up my account and get the product downloaded – which was actually quite simple on my Mac. I have no idea how easy or hard it is for Windows, and they also have a Linux version.

I decided to recreate what I had done in VUE – so I could show you the differences. Not only was I able to recreate what I had done, but I was able to add to it! One of the things I like most about The Brain is that the nodes move around to show relative relationships to the whole. In order to show you this properly I needed to use a product called Jing in order to record the action. Jing is usable for PC and Mac and I have it on my list of things to write about.

Here is the short video demonstration
[UPDATE: For some reason the video would not load here. Until I can get this straightened out, here is a link to where the video can be seen.]

I think you can see the difference between the static mind-maps and this. There is SO much you can also do with this, I was barely able to scratch the surface in the short time I had.

So, again, I put out the offer – instead of using VUE to chart my work in Web 2.0 apps, I’m going to use The Brain. I’m happy to revise and add by suggestion as appropriate, so please feel free to make suggestions. When I get a decent working model, I’ll post it here again.

Until then, see you next time

SnapSession – VUE Mind Mapping tool

Well – the last two days got away from me – as should be expected as we approach the start of the semester. But today I was finally able to get back to my 15 MINUTE SNAP SESSION testing and I poked around a little in VUE.

VUE stands for Visual Understanding Environment and is brought to us by the good folks at Tufts. It is a free mind-mapping tool and I decided to try and map my mind a bit. I decided to try and organize my work bringing together Web 2.0 technologies. I see a few major classifications that these technologies falls into and I wanted to try and categorize them (visually) and then list samples within each category.

I first spent some time looking at the PDF manual they provide and also the Quicktime videos they have to show off the features. This tool has some pretty cool features that make it a very robust tool, and could easy be used in place of a slide show for a presentation or lecture. It is not as intuitive to put together a map, as most of us know how to do slide presentations already, but it is much more visually appealing to show relationships between things. I suggest, if you’re interested, you visit the VUE site and check out the capabilities.

I didn’t have enough time to do something dramatic and in-depth, but here is a jpg of what I was able to do. It is VERY easy to export the work into a variety of formats, I choose JPF since I knew I’d be uploading that into this blog.

As you can see I created major categories, started putting items (actual applications) under each category and then started to show the relationships between the applications and the categories.

I was not able to move a “node” once I placed it someplace. I know there must be a way to do that, but when I click “the hand” it moved the whole map. So I was forced to leave things where I placed them.

One thing I would have liked is if you could click on an item and it moves to the center, showing the relationships in contrast to the otheres. I know another application did this, or at least I think it did. I saw it a number of years ago and it is called The Brain. I just remembered the name and found the site again, so I will probably review this next.

I like the visual nature of this – its great to show relationships between things. It’s almost like a flow chart on steroids.

Oh – the VUE map I started, I plan to complete. So if you have any ideas for major nodes, sub nodes, applications to be added, please let me know. I plan to use this in some of my presentation and also to post it someplace (not sure where yet) for others to be able to use.

SnapSession – MindMapping, Part 1

I’m back. After two weeks away, I’m finally back in the swing of things. Ok, well, not really. Today is my first day back in the office, but hardly my first day back at work. A new blog post soon on all the exciting things that happened in Brasil.

I decided to start looking at mind mapping. One of our faculty members here in the CHSS has seen a mind map that was dedicated to a specific topic and asked if something like that could be created with his own content. I told him sure, and let him know I’d look into it.

I almost hate to admit it, but when I want good, general (and sometimes quite specific) information, I’ve been finding myself looking to Wikipedia more and more. When it comes to academic use and research, not so much, but for good basic information – it’s a great resource. So I found this page that talks about mind mapping:

I found this during my Google search on the topic. The thing I like about this is that it gave a few examples of free mind-mapping tools, saved me a ton of legwork.

I’d already downloaded the Freemind tool. It seemed interesting, but had a ton of buttons all along the borders. It was very confusing and I couldn’t easily figure out how to do what I wanted to do. If I’d already known something about mind mapping it might have been more intuitive.

Through the Wikipedia page I noticed VUE, which is something I remember seeing before. I know I had an account so I re-requested my password and signed in. After downloading the application I got started right away. The interface was clean and simple – and it was quite obvious how to do what I wanted to do. I also like VUE because it is education-oriented, whereas Freemind is supposed to be more for business.

I created a simple mind map of my efforts in checking out web 2.0 applications but quickly ran out of time. As you know, I only spend 15 minutes doing the research. My thought behind that is, if it takes longer than that, the average person will probably give up on it unless there is a strong drive to learn about it.

Now that I have the tool, perhaps tomorrow I’ll spend my 15 minutes learning how to use it. I’ll even try to generate an example.