There is quite a bit of free Mind Maps Software around on the internet these days and just recently I came across this free Text to Mind Map converter that you will find at www.text2mindmap.com.
I have had a quick look at it and tried it out but before I tell you about it, I want to give you my thoughts on the the whole concept of having a software that converts text into Mind Maps.
There is a big debate about the differences between using Mind Map Software and creating them by hand.
In my mind there is no argument, they are complementary and should be used together because each has its own strengths and weaknesses however the combination of freehand Mind Mapping and those processed by a piece of software can be a potent combination.
Then there is the choice of which is the best Mind Map software to use.
Now I am not going to get into that one because I don’t have enough knowledge (yet) of the vast arrray of software out there and so can’t comment on which is the best.
I can tell you that I use MInd Manager which does the job perfectly for me and I can highly recommend it.
How it compares to the other software out there, I do not know, but it works for me and I know works for hundreds of thousands of others too.
So then we get onto the issue of a software that takes text and then turns it into Mind Maps.
So how do I say this without upsetting anyone who has put their time and energy into creating such software….
Why would you need such a utility?
Now on the face of it, if you can take a body of text, stick into some software that produce Mind Maps version of it, then Bingo! Job done.
You have saved time, you have created a swift Mind Map and the gods of efficiency and productivity will smile down on you.
However what most people still seem to miss is that the Mind Map itself is not the value and benefit of this powerful thinking tool.
It is the process of Mind Mapping that is the beauty and power of the approach.
Because if you take some text and turn it into a couple of Mind Maps, you are THINKING about it in a way that you absolutely HAVE to analyse, categorise, summarise and organise the information.
By doing that Mind Mapping process YOURSELF your understanding, retention and recall will be far superior than if you just took conventional notes.
The quality of your thinking has increased immensely because you are having to THINK about it to formulate Mind Maps representation of YOUR perspective of the information instead of just collecting a version of it in your hand writing.
So if you take your body of text and stick it into a piece of software that does that for you, not only are you missing the point, you are also missing the value of the THINKING experience.
So let’s get back to the Text2MindMap tool.
They give the example of Months of the Year, but you have to indent the hierarchy of words yourself so you would enter the words like this and then press “Convert to Mind Map” and this is the sort of diagram you would get:
Months of the year
So if your outcome was to just take your represented keywords that you have organised in this fashion into a diagram that is similar to a Mind Map then this would work for you.
However, there are a couple of points that might be worth bearing in mind:
1. If you are going to arrange your words and indent them to show the hierarchy, you would save time and have a better result if you did that directly on either hand drawn Mind Maps or a conventional Mind Map software.
2. Whilst claiming to be a Mind Map, the diagram produced is really a bubble diagram which is different conceptually (albeit subtlely) from the Mind Mapping tool.
So in essence, whilst the programming efforts are to be applauded, the concept of this tool should really be examined in greater depth before too much time is possibly wasted creating something that pretty much defeats the object of Mind Mapping and essentially bypasses its power.
My concern is not necessarily that these highly intelligent and skilled people will waste their time, but that once the tool is developed further, people may come to use it, think that it is representative of the power of the Mind Map, not get the amazing benefits that Tony Buzan’s creation properly applied offers and then dismiss Mind Mapping as something that “just doesn’t work”.
Now even if the development of Text2MindMap gets to the stage where you can simply cut and paste a body of text and you get (proper) Mind Maps perfectly created, summarising the key words (and maybe even using images too) one thing is still missing…
How Unique Should Mind Maps Be?
You see if you and I both took a page of text and we Mind Mapped it, our Maps would be completely unique.
There would be some similarities because we were using the same source content but there would be a lot of differences because of our unique perspectives on the world and therefore our needs from the piece.
You might take a positive slant on the piece, I might take a critical slant on the piece.
You might want to add ideas to make things work, I might want to shoot them down and show them how they can’t.
Unfortunately, no matter how good any software is, being able to take different and unique perspectives and interpretations on a body of knowledge is pretty much impossible to do by computer (certainly for the forseeable future anyway).
And then we come back to my original point – why bother doing Mind Maps automatically and miss all the fun yourself.
So that’s my opinion and I am certainly open to hearing yours.
Try it out at www.text2mindmap.com and let me know what you think.