Sometimes you need to talk to others in order to corroborate or elicit information about a topic or person. sometimes you need to sit yourself down and collect and organize your thoughts and the information with which you want to work.
This post deals with how to elicit information from yourself.
I strongly suspect that you do have a body of information with which you want to work, or are working, or you would not be here on this page of this site.
So today for the fifth installation of my attempt at the A to Z April Blogging Challenge I am sharing some of the tools I have found most beneficial when I am trying to determine just what is essential to me or essential to the project on which I am working. The most essential to me is the mind map.
I love diagramming, mapping, flow and organizational charts, taxonomies, and generally moving things around in little labeled boxes. Why? Because I am a collector. I collect ideas, projects, and components for these ethereal future ideas without even meaning to do so. I am just a clutter magnet. Some would call it scattered, I call it creative and multifaceted. But because of this I use mind maps to help me see all the aspects I have thought of about a concept. For example, the following mind map relates to the Women’s Legacy Project. This is my no means complete.
What I might do next is color code the various nodes so that the digital components were blue, printed components are green, and nodes that are of a different type, such a nodes that are people, could be purple. A different style of type, and the color of the type can further show similar elements across the branches.
There are free and professional versions of mind map software. But you can do this with a pencil and paper as well.
The other go to mapping tool I use is a simple grid that allows me to examine two aspects of an idea or process to see the strength and or completeness of concepts composing the idea.
Matrix / Grid
Action Priority Matrices are what these matrices are now called in the business world. This is often where effort and impact are the two traits compared vertically and horizontally to see what high effort, high impact projects in the plus/plus quadrant make for long term projects, what low effort but high value projects can bring quick rewards.
I was first introduced to the use of this tool to compare the presence and absence of words to describe all aspects of a situation or state.
I find the activity of writing for online consumption to be a bit of a Catch 22. The best way I have found for looking at why bloggers are so often dismissed as not a real writers can be shown by drawing a matrix overlapping dimensions of writing and publishing in the online world. From this mapping you can see that we have not yet created perfect words to describe these states. But if you plug in celebrity for a category that might be better described as person who is online, famous, or a media personality without having great subject authority you can see the categorization is getting at expertise attributed to creators with traditional or large scale publication.
I encourage regular old-fashioned list-making as well. But when the elements of list seem to need further processing or examination to make similarities, differences and nuances of the elements of the list apparent, there are a wealth of tools that can help to expand or focus understanding of the topic we want to organize, present and preserve.