I have a lot on my mind sometimes. A lot of ideas, concepts, schemes, schemas, tiny pieces of information to tack onto something else – and I need to get all that out of my head, before I forget it. In theory, there are mindmapping tools that help with that – but in reality it’s not all that easy. Common software pitfalls plague me to no end.
See, human minds don’t work like computers. We do have the capability of categorizing stuff, we can define abstract concepts and decide what falls under a specific area and what does not, but all that is secondary to us – while it’s primary for computers. Obvious being obvious, yet still creativity-assisting programs – even mindmapping tools – tend to be completely blind to it, and keep forcing the user to decide the least important details first, before letting them finally unleash their creativity. The worst thing one can do to another’s creative process is to say, “wait, stop” – and yet every tool I have seen so far does exactly that.
I want to add “the dog has a clipped tail” to my big pile of ideas, preferrably linking it to the said dog, already featured there somewhere. What’s the first thing I have to decide, in most cases? The shape of the text object I’m about to add. Pick from a whole huge library of circles, ellipses, octagons, pentagons, rectangles, arrows, speech balloons… And what if I don’t have the slightest idea how I want that bit of information displayed? Sorry, I’ll have to decide NOW. And sometimes I won’t even have the option to change the shape later.
I want to write an article about mindmapping software. What’s the first thing my faithful WordPress asks me about? The title. The hell if I know how I’ll entitle this! I’ve got a nice defiant ellipsis entered as the title, for now, up on my screen. The blog engine, inadvertently, tried to block my creative process, by forcing me to think about what’s not at all important at this point.
I want to add a character to a novel-to-be. The first thing all writers’ software packages ask? The name of the character, of course. Then their gender. Then their age. Then their race or something. That’s all fine, but for now I just want to write “He’s a ragged ruffian, smelly and unkempt, who jumps the party in a dark alley”. Sure, I’ll have to decide on a name and all the other stuff later, but – LATER!
I’m drawing stuff. At one point the program pipes up, “it’s time to autosave! yes/no?” I say yes, why not. “Enter file name”, the pesky thing says. I enter “sdfsdfsdf”, of course. Dammit, I don’t know how to name it yet, why do I HAVE to decide now? Why am I wrenched away from my creative process, only to have to decide on names and titles and folders and whatnot?
Imagine how much you would get done, if every program out there kept asking about the file name BEFORE even letting you do any work. You’d start entering “sdfsdfsdf” into all file names, like I tend to, I bet. (Actually, that’s a good title, but I decided it only NOW.) Thank all deities for the brilliant “Unnamed01” idea!
So, here’s my gripe, voiced in hope that someone familiar with a solution to my problem comes along and comments.
I crave a mindmapping / information management program that will focus on what I want to transfer from my head into the digital world, and HELP me do it, not PREVENT me from doing it. I want to click just once or twice and start typing, without being asked about a ton of details first. I want to categorize stuff at some point, but I don’t want to have to think with categories from the get go. Help?