A recent ADHD newsletter noted that The Brain — a mind mapping software — might be a useful tool for ADHDers to capture ideas. Mind mapping, for those not familiar with the concept, is a technique for creating a visual representation of concepts related to a core subject. For example, if the core subject was “automobile culture,” it would be written in the middle of the map and ideas associated with it, such as the discovery of crude oil, methods of refinement of crude to create gasoline, building of roads, etc., would be connected to it with lines and thought bubbles. (See Figure 1)
The Brain software allows you to do things that you can’t do on paper, such as adding files — a Word document, a spreadsheet — or hyperlinks to other material. Further, the map can be multi-dimensional, something that would be difficult to do if one had to do it on paper.
The more I thought about the software, the more I liked it, until I thought about the reality of using the software. What does it mean for an ADHDer like me to use the software?
First, it requires that I sit still. But after turning fifty years old, I’ve become physically hyperactive. In fact, I’m writing this while rocking back and forth in my chair, hoping to maintain focus while writing. Second, the software requires you to use one of the worst interface devices ever created — a keyboard. Third, it requires you to use the other awful interface device commonly known as ‘a mouse.’ All this got me thinking. If cost and technology were not an issue, how would a true ADHD-friendly mind mapping software work? It would work something like this.
The ADHDer would stand in the middle of a large room and talk. The computer records the voice which, at a later time, it transcribes into printable, and editable, form. As the ADHDer moves around the room, his finger points at a location in space, verbally labels it as “Automobile Culture,” and those words remain suspended in the air as a holographic projection. The ADHDer points to the space below it and says “Model T Ford; refining crude oil; building of roads; automobile advertising,” and each phrase hangs there in holographic three-dimensional space. He then uses his finger to draw lines in space, connecting one concept to another. Eventually, the now-exhausted, and calmer, ADHDer would sit on the floor, point to one of the concepts, say, automobile advertising, and start talking about it while the computer continues to diligently record everything. At the conclusion of this mind-mapping session, the computer would automatically link digital copies of books, movies, television shows, documentaries, etc., that are relevant to the theme of “Automobile Culture.” To my way of thinking, THIS is how ADHD-friendly software should work.