A number of software companies have developed programs that offer users different ways to visually organize their knowledge, and Atlantic Monthly correspondent James Fallows says while Personal Brain and Grokker are mesmerizing, they’re too “right-brain” for his taste. He prefers instead MindManager (Mindjet.com) and ResultsManager (Gyronix.com) — two programs that emerged from the “Mind Mapping” movement started back in the 1960s. MindManager creates a sort of outline to organize everyday information by taking one central idea and then presenting related ideas as spokes radiating out from the center. “The subideas can have their own connections and nodes, and all parts of the maps can be easily linked to relevant side material — e-mail, Web pages, documents and so on.”

ResultsManager uses MindManager software not to organize ideas but to get things done. “With ResultsManager, users are encouraged to create a MindManager ‘map’ for each project or obligation they take on — planning a vacation, making sales calls, writing a report. The related activities for each project are thus grouped in one place, but the program can sweep through all the projects and produce a functional ‘dashboard’ of tasks to be done today, tasks that can be done at a computer, tasks of the highest priority and so on,” says Fallows. “It works better than it might sound?Ķ Both of these are visually oriented and, therefore, right-brain programs take getting used to and require tinkering to bring out their best. That is why my left brain accepts them, too.”

New York Times 20 Mar 2005