Background: The fact that there's nothing new about mind mapping only emphasizes its usefulness. Claims to the recent invention of mind mapping start with Tony Buzan of England, whose name is most closely associated with mind mapping at present. But a recent method of represented related ideas, called semantic networks, pre-dates Buzan's work. And Wikipedia argues that the mind maps of Porphyry of Tyros go back as far as the third century.
Today visual-thinking techniques similar enough to be called mind mapping include: webs, mind webs, webbing, diagramming, spider diagrams, tree diagrams, brain chains, or just plain doodling. In addition, a constant stream of mind mapping software continues to appear, the process is taught extensively, and most creative professionals have been introduced to it at some point in their careers.
How to Mind Map: Mind mapping is essentially a non-linear form of outlining. The idea is to make an organically associated diagram of words, concepts, ideas, tasks, decisions, or other information, and to link individual items as their associations demand. Mind maps can be used to generate ideas, represent complex ideas and relationships, classify related items, and to assist one's thinking, study, writing, and decision making.
The power of mind maps lies in the way they more accurately represent the way humans think. They allow people to arrange elements intuitively, according their importance and as they arise. Items can be classified and grouped instantly and easily. Meanwhile the mind mapper and others can keep an overview of the entire map constantly in sight.
A very basic outline of how to create and use mind maps follows.