web 2.0 and mind mapping

On: November 5, 2007
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About Fleur Dujardin
Fleur Dujardin is a master student of New Media at the University of Amsterdam. She has a bachelor degree in Marketing Management and a bachelor degree in Media & Culture with an expertise in televisionstudies.


Brainstorming is a way to solve problems or come up with innovative new ideas. It enhances the quanity and quality of ideas in group settings. Typical brainstorming instructions prompt group members to generate as many ideas as possible, to evaluate uncritically their own ideas and the ideas of others, and to improve or combine ideas already suggested. A helpful tool during a brainstormsession is the mind map. According to Wikipedia a mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making and writing. Mindmeister.com, bubble.us and mindomo.com are just a few examples of different user interfaces who bring the concept of mind mapping to the web and allow global brainstorming sessions.

Users can create, manage and share mind maps online and access them anytime, from anywhere. In brainstorming mode, fellow MindMeisters from around the world (or just in different rooms) can simultaneously work on the same mind map – and see each other’s changes as they happen. Using integrated Skype calls, they can throw around new ideas and put them down on “paper” at the same time. (mindmeister.com)

By using mindmaps people can brainstorm together putting there ideas directly on screen. For example, you can make a mindmap and send invitees an email with a link and give them different types of access. Say you want them to adjust something you can send an open invitation. But you can also work together on the same mindmap at the same time. Every change one person makes will be replicated instantly to the other persons screen and you can easily connect with the other by using for example skype. Thus, these types of user interfaces make it possible to do real-time brainstorming without sitting face-to-face. It is easy to get in contact with different people from all over the world interested in the same subject and to expand knowledge which obviously can result in new ideas which one person could never have thought of.

This web 2.0 tool is ideal when you work with a small group or use it alone, but brainstorming with a large group in this way has some drawbacks. There is of course a loss of social interaction, but there’s also the problem of an overload of ideas. It is possible that the group may generate too many ideas and losses quality because it is so easy to post an idea quickly without giving it much thought. Since there is no verbal participation, the individual may type comments on the keyboard, call out things, start a discussion and change topic. This might disturb the concentration of the group and lead everyone down a different path. The ideas can easily veer of the topic, all by the hand of one person who has started the diversion.

Maybe within time it is possible to find a solution to this kind of problems, but in the meantime the concept of mind mapping as a web 2.0 application is a useful tool to visualize brainstorming sessions.

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