My first MindMap chart: Conventions of Visual Language

Posted: January 29, 2012 in Technical Writing
Tags: , ,

Here is a little mini-project I did, that was actually a convergence of two tasks.

The first was actual homework. Our reading assignment for Reading Theory and Document Design class was the first three chapters in Shaping Information: The Rhetoric of Visual Conventions by Charles Kostelnick and Michael Hassett. Part of the assigned discussion topic was to draw out the categories of conventions the authors make, and discuss them.

The other was self-homework. In perusing Technical Writer job postings, I noticed that all of them require Microsoft Visio, which is used for making charts and graphs and stuff. So I was going to try to teach myself Visio, until I found out there is no Visio for Mac. Seriously? The closest Mac competitor is ConceptDraw, so my next plan was to teach myself that. Until I saw that there’s also something by ConceptDraw called MindMap, which seemed  a lot easier. So I thought that might be a good place to get started.

MindMap helps you make what we in junior high TAG writing class called “clusters,” but apparently they are called “mind maps” now. It’s the kind of brainstorming chart where you put a main idea in the center, and then shoot branches off it of related ideas, and shoot branches off of those. It’s kind of like an outline, when you’re not sure yet how the outline is going to be organized.

So, since the discussion topic was simple enough–categorizing based on the reading–I thought it would be a good chance to try out MindMap.

The version I had available to me was MindMap 5, and they’re up to 7 now, so it’s probably pretty out of date. So don’t expect this to be a very accurate software review. But it was a place to start.

The software was easy enough, though harder than I expected to customize. I thought there’d be more layers of levels, instead of just “main topic” and “subtopic.” So I had to graphically differentiate inner levels manually. It was a pain, so I only did it for the second level, and just let the 3rd and 4th be identical. The clip-art was a nice, fun touch, but the sizes weren’t (that I could see) variable, so they mostly just ended up making my graph spaced weirdly. But, as far as just plotting down my ideas, it was really simple. I wish I’d noticed before I’d gotten started that they had “themes,” as that would have been fun to play around with.

Anyways, I took my categories directly from the text, and included page numbers so my classmates can look them up and decide if they agree or disagree with the way I’ve included them.

Here’s my chart!

Sorry, that’s as big as I can get it on here, but the picture should link to a pdf file you can download, which is much easier to navigate.

Anyways, that was just my fun little project, thought I’d share!

  1. I have found mind mapping to be very useful, especially when analyzing and planning for user assistance for complex solutions.

  2. […] My first MindMap chart: Conventions of Visual Language […]

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