I was recently contacted by Roy Grubb, a member of a development team that has been working on an intriguing new information visualization program called Topicscape. Based on the description on the program’s website, the program is best characterized as software for capturing your thoughts, ideas and other unstructured information – a personal knowledge base, with aspirations to be a mind mapping program.
The screen shot on the program’s home page is intriguing, with topics and sub-topics represented as 3-D pyramids of varying sizes on a green, field-like background. The Topicscape website also contains a brief movie (Windows Media format), which shows a “fly-over” of a typical 3-D work space.
Roy calls Topicscape, which is currently undergoing beta testing, a mind mapping tool. To some extent, I think that may be accurate. It does enable you to place parent, child and sibling topics in the work space, visually depicting their relationships to each other. You can selectively show or hide details, much like a conventional mind map. Links to files can be embedded within individual items in your Topicscape map (and you can add meta data to each link – very helpful!). You can also link together ideas that are related.
But Topicscape is much different than any mind mapping program you have ever used. Much like The Brain, another information visualization tool that has a unique user interface and a terminology all its own, Topicscape will undoubtedly require users who are willing to scale a moderate learning curve to understand its concepts and functionality.
The Topicscape contains ample help materials, along with examples of how other people are already using it in their work – including project management, software development and consultant applications.
Roy is currently looking for beta testers to download and evaluate Topicscape. To become part of the beta test team, you can sign up on this web page.