What are the differences of the tool I use, and cMap or PersonalBrain?
I think, cMap tools is more optimized for the later stage of thinking where you are about to show off something to others. It does not at all have a “notes” pane immediately next to each node on the map, as PersonalBrain has. So in this respect, my tool resembles more PersonalBrain where you can ponder a topic again and again.
PersonalBrain’s graphic is impressive and beautiful and creatively stimulating, but it gets quickly overwhelming when it comes to network structures that are not tree-like or star-like. IMHO this restriction is not so strong in cMaps: Although the strict guidelines by Novak prescribe a top-down tree, as well, cMaps can much easier be used for true, nonhierarchical networks (i.e. networks where for some nodes it is really not yet decided if they belong more to one or more to another category). While PersonalBrain’s dynamic layout can make kind of “sea-sick”, cMap’s static topology layout is more like a cartographic map where you won’t lose the compass orientation too quickly. In this respect, my tool is more like cMap than like PersonalBrain.
And then there is the difference of size and scope, which was mentioned in the fall TKT class: cMap is like a “snapshot” of a PersonalBrain. In this respect, my tool is more like cMaps, it’s not for long-term storage of many items but for immediate overview of a given number of topical items.
So my tool is like a cMap tool, plus a notes facility like that of PersonalBrain (plus, of course, many left deficiencies!). VUE has both the concept map and the notes (albeit a bit hidden in a separate window), but this program, in turn, lacks an easy import. So, each of the comparable programs lack only a little important feature, and I hope one of them will soon add it.