Baby Boomer Information Overload – Topicscape 3D A Possible Solution

This is a little off topic but…

I can spend hours looking through information on the Internet trying to find something new or something I can give a different slant to when writing posts for this blog.

In the past I have toyed with mind maps which can help organise a topic. But I always gave them up because they would get too complex and I could not get the big picture very easily as well as drill down to a sub topic. Topicscape Visual Information Manager

I also wanted to be able to link several sub topics together and see them in context for a new perspective on a main topic.

So what I found myself doing was grabbing information and saving it in OneNote or Evernote and then reviewing it to make a post. But each post was separate and did not add to the body of information I already had.

In addition I found I prefer working with visualisations rather than file structures. I wanted to be able to quickly view the information and drill down to the area I wanted and then come back out and move to another area and drill down and maybe link the two parts for a post.

I also wanted to capitalise on all the information I was capturing and not just use it once.

The problem was the mind maps I used were 2-dimensional and I realised I needed 3-dimensional ones.

Until now the best information organiser/information managers/mind-mappers I found some time back was PersonalBrain. The new version 5.5 is great.

One problem with 2 dimensional mind mappers they are like Microsoft file structure. You can have lots of files in a folder but those files cannot be in other folders at the same time, unless you copy them and then suffered the consequences of not ensuring all copies of a file are updated at the same time.

In the mind mapping world this is called “parenting” and being able to have multiple parents makes for better information organisation and linking.

I believe PersonalBrain 5 does support multiple parents.

But after playing with it and watching many demonstrations I found I still had another problem. I felt I was getting lost in the “streets” of information. If you play one of the demos you’ll see what I mean.

I also played around with Topicscape a 3-Dimensional information organiser, but that was almost two years ago now. Today I revisited it just before almost purchasing PersonalBrain.

The new version 2.15 is much improved over the copy I tested two years ago. It has more features and this time I felt I was far more comfortable using it and much more quickly too. I still think the interface is clunky and amateurish (no disrespect intended) but…

The great thing about Topicscape is it is like a landscape in three dimensions. Each topic is represented as a cone and cones can be associated with one another. The size of the cone determines it’s relationship to other cones.

Using the arrow keys in combination with the other control keys you can virtually fly over the landscape which represents your information database and literally see what you are looking for. Its visual.

You can do a text search too but I like the idea of flying over my information database first as I see things that might be relevant for the topic I intend to write about. Many times I had not even considered that information snippet, Internet web page, blog post by some expert or whatever that I happen to capture into my landscape for some other post at some previous time.

I think PersonalBrain is a much more professionally finished product and it adheres to all the Microsoft best practices regarding menus, layout and the like. It is feature rich and easy to use to input information. But I believe Topicscape may provide me with more flexibility managing my information overload and it is only one third of the price 🙂

If it doesn’t work out I will probably get PersonalBrain instead.

If you are like me, a Baby Boomer trying to manage all that retirement information being thrown at me in retirement it might pay you to look at these two products.

I’m going to give Topicscape a serious going over in the next few weeks and hope it will tame my information overload problem.

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