I’ve been thinking about what it means to “map out” a project. I guess I’m trying to mean that in the most literal sense that I can. For as long back as I can remember, I’ve been taught that one of the best strategies for brainstorming is something called mind-mapping. Basically, you write a word down, and circle it. Then you list as many different words related to that word as you can think of and circle each of those. Then you take each of those words, and build out another level. The process continues ad infinitum. The point is to reveal connections or relationships among different ideas. I still use that strategy when I brainstorming for different projects.
About a year ago, I found some software that would allow me to do the same thing, but on a screen, and in a manner that was more flexible and could be saved for later use or additions. I began to use it to pull together quotations and organize them into outlines for papers. Now, as I begin working through my reading list for my SRA, I wonder if this tool might not also be useful for understanding relationships between different ideas and different authors regarding the same topic. Maybe this would be a way of mapping a discourse community.
I like the idea, and I think I’ll begin to build one after I get a few more readings under my belt. I sense that there might be all sorts of affordances to this practice. For instance, as I’m reading an article, I might see a promising reference to two or more other texts. Maybe I’ll read one of them, but when I do, I’ll run the risk of stumbling onto even more promising references. If, when I finished the first article, I made notes about other texts it referenced (or other texts to which I think it is relevant), I could basically offer an orphaned node, to which I could eventually return, especially if I see the node referenced again.
I’ll keep posting about the progress I’m making on this sort of adventure, and maybe I’ll even post a screen capture or two.