Is A Bubble Diagram A Mind Map?

After writing my post on Spidergrams the other day I decided to have a look around the web for some examples of Bubble Diagrams.

These are another form of visual thought organisation that are often confused with Mind Maps.

bubbl_us2.jpgAfter digging around a bit, I discovered a cute little site called

By their own description the site is “a simple and free web application that allows people to brainstorm online”

However interestingly enough they then go on to describe the output they create as being Mind Maps, specifically:

  • “Create colorful mind maps online
  • Share and work with friends
  • Embed your mind map in your blog or website
  • Email and print your mind map
  • Save your mind map as an image”

Now this is a typical example of the confusion where a a structure that is similar to Mind Mapping is given that label.

I am never quite sure what my motive is for pointing out the difference between the two forms.

Maybe in the past it was loyalty to the brand but I think now it is more about defending the principles of the technique against pale imitations.

You see in its purest form Mind Mapping is extremely powerful.

The guiding principles I have written about in the past are there for a reason and if all are implemented, you really have a strong and sophisticated thinking device.

When you start taking bits out and create something that sort of looks like Mind Mapping, whatever results is a watered down version of the original.

Now I don’t suppose for a minute that anyone deliberately starts out to do that, I just think that imitators don’t appreciate the true value of the Mind Map and so miss out on the finer detail that makes a difference.

So if we look at the creation of something from we might get something like this:


On the surface, to the uninitiated at least, these could be described as a Mind Map.

However without boring you on the detail, it isn’t.

Why is that important for me to feel I have to state that?

Well I know Mind Mapping to be a really powerful tool because of the impact it has had on my thinking, and on the thousands of people I have taught it to.

If someone takes what they think is Mind Mapping (but isn’t) and experience the diluted impact it will have they may come to the conclusion that “Mind Maps don’t work”.

Now I think that is a shame, not for me or for the Mind Map but for the person concerned who is missing out on what could, if used properly, give them the boost to their thinking prowess they were looking for.

It would be like going to see a really bad Dire Straits tribute band but thinking they were the real deal.

Now it does not mean that using diagrams like this is not going to help you because this tool is very useful.

As a brainstorming device it does work very wel (try it out for yourself).

However it is not a Mind Map, never has been a Mind Map and it will never be a Mind Map.

Just like there is only one Mark Knopfler, there is really only one Mind Map.

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