Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Great Web 2.0 App: Collaborative Mind Mapping with Comapping

There's a special kind of thrill for me in finding a Web 2.0 application that really fills a need and has a business model that I'm glad to support. Comapping.com is such an application: a collaborative mind-mapping or outlining program that starts out simply enough for quick use, allows you to intuitively discover more sophisticated features, that feels rock-solid, and then costs about 1/10th of what you'd expect.

My learning curve for immediate productivity was all of about 10 minutes, and not only was I able to build a pretty sophisticated mind map for a keynote I was giving a couple of days later, and then to export it into a word-processing format; but I was also able to use it the next week to fully conduct an all-day brainstorming meeting with a more than a dozen participants, which I did by projecting my laptop screen during the whole day. The session was a pre-conference day at the K-12 Open Minds Conference on "large scale deployments" of Linux and Open Source Software, and we built a pretty great outline for what will become a white paper on the subject.

The speed and smoothness of the program are matched by intuitive keystroke or mouse actions.  Focusing on subtopics, or shifting back to the whole view, is very easy.  While I did a quick experiment with someone else adding to a mind map concurrently, which worked very well, I haven't yet tried the task management tools, which include email notification, and which would seem to be a great complement to organized problem-solving or brainstorming.