Monday, 23 January 2012

mind mapping software

When I embarked on this wack-job adventure of a PhD, one of the very first things I did was to begin populating a fancy shnazzy mind mapping program with every idea that crossed my mind, every article I thought I should read, every writer I thought I should know, every conference I heard of - a vast amount of stuff. Then about the second thing I did was to pay for an upgrade so that I could attach every bell and whistle known to man to these nuggets of future mental goodness.

And it was fantastic! I was sprawling out all over, investigating dozens of leads in new areas. I needed something to remind me that this was the person who wrote that, and referenced this guy's famous concept of that thing. With just my brain to rely on, I'd have felt hopelessly adrift.

But then, several months back, my project started to gel. I started confidently setting some ideas aside, and confidently knowing what I needed to know about some of the others. Trawling through my mind map became less necessary, and I became less reliant on my habit of putting everything into it.

But... now that I don't use it much anymore, I'm finding myself in a bit of a quandary. I've got thoughts and notes to myself written here, there, and everywhere. I'm not trying to claim that every fragment that escapes into digital form is a flash of brilliance, but some of them, when I run across them by accident weeks later, actually seem to make sense. I don't want to lose them, but I'm not at a point where I can turn them all into fully fledged parts of my official text.

I'm thinking of starting a new mind map just for these thoughts. But how to link them together? How to categorise? How to make sure they don't get lost, like all the other stuff I worked so hard to capture and is languishing untouched on my hard drive?

Gee, you'd almost think there was something about the performativity of personal digital media in my thesis...


warrengday said...

When I started my PhD in 1989 I did a Mind Map at the start of each month and put it on the wall over my desk.

It contained everything I was working on at the time and everything I thought I needed to do.

Naturally the Mind Map evolved over the month. And each month I did another Mind Map to clarify what was I WORKING on.

stronglanguage said...

Good plan, thanks - it couldn't hurt to have another tool for keeping me on track. Right now I set out a rough daily schedule of what to work on every time I have a supervision and then plug it into my calendar. It lets me sleep at night, knowing there's at least a chance I can get everything done.

Connie said...

I think what you need is more active, crafty engagement with your digital media to limit your digital overload ;)