SpiderScribe: Into the market of the mind

By now most people have figured out that I’m a bit of a dreamer- head in the clouds, always thinking about the next big thing. I tire of the mundane as quickly as it arrives. It’s this winning trait that’s led my career on a fairly circuitous path. Jobs come and go like water and wind. No matter. There’s another one out there, up there, somewhere. I’ll be breeding horses by the time it’s all over.

Part of my draw to start-ups is that they begin as dream. When I stumbled into the world of tech start-ups it was a big aha moment for me- “Hey, here’s something I know about! Constant change!” And so has been the trek of companies throughout the internet. As the web has changed so has the technology behind it. What used to be built with HTML and CSS is now accompanied with Javascript, Ajax, jQuery, databases, and a variety of connecting technologies. As a long time computer game junkie I made this observation: As the new pizzazz of graphics and interaction capabilities increased the quality and story lines of games decreased. What once were truly endearing puzzles and narratives has been replaced with spiffy graphics and whizzbang. So when I come across a site that uses all the dazzling constructs afforded to web developers these days I automatically question its utility. Those doubts were instantly and pleasantly quashed when I came across SpiderScribe. It’s a site that takes the best of what the web has to offer and integrates it both simply and brilliantly. They built an online brainstorming and mind mapping tool.

SpiderScribe Home

As someone who’s sketched out a hundred ideas for every one that approached fruition, mind mapping tools are kind of my territory. And up until now I’ve navigated the lands of new ideas a trusty pen and paper. A successful session would consist of a series of scribbles of a hardly legible nature, and a garbage bin half full of crumpled up ideas. I like this primitive approach for these initial brainstorming sessions since the simplicity doesn’t encumber your creative flow. So I have to concede that I’m a bit leery of the idea of using an online application for such a purpose. How can one keep their head in the clouds if you’re trying to figure out a complex program?

Almost if by fate, or much more likely, design, SpiderScribe fits the mold of your mind perfectly. Utilizing the tool is simple and easy, allowing for the free flow of thoughts to stream onto the page. Once registered you’re presented with a fresh dashboard of maps waiting to be created. There’s a demo to get you started. It’s just as well that you create a new map and start brain storming. There’s zero learning curve here. After entering a name and description you’re presented with a clean slate. The tools available to you are text edit boxes, files to upload, pictures, embeddable Google Maps, and calendar entries. Each of these can be dragged and dropped into the map area and then edited as you like. Once you’ve added the ones you like to the display you can move them around, resize them, and select a few decorative options if you wish. At the bottom of each widget is a connector button which will allow you to create arrows connecting one to the next. These can be attached to any of the other widgets on the screen.

SpiderScribe Demo Map

After a bit of adding pictures, connecting arrows, and a few edit boxes I was quickly able to see how this would be useful. Let’s say you’re going on vacation and want to plan out the schedule. You can drag and drop pictures, locations, dates, and notes to organize the flow of your trip. Nothing’s set in stone; it’s easy to make updates things as the mind map progresses. There’s also undo and redo buttons to get back to previous versions.

Maps can be private, public with a unique and somewhat undiscoverable URL, and then public public, where search engines and anyone else can find it. Other people can be invited as viewers or editors to participate in the brain storming session.

Oftentimes people take the best technology available and build things of relatively mild import. Other times they make a tool that’s useful and don’t bother upgrading to the latest and greatest. SpiderScribe has the best of both worlds and enters into one of the hardest markets out there- the market of the mind. With it, dreamers like me, planners, and anyone else, can create shared brain storms and mind maps online.

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