Rather than have the authors come up with their ideas of what
BrainStorm is really good for, we asked some users to give their
opinions. Here, we provides an overview of their feedback.
Click here to read their
individual contributions in full.
The most commonly used adjective to describe BrainStorm was
"invaluable". One person said "BrainStorm is the single most
valued application I have. Another said, "This is not a program
you buy and store away. This is a program for frequent use."
So what is it that makes BrainStorm so valuable? Without
question, it is the support that it gives to the capturing and
organizing of ideas and other information. Writers. researchers,
teachers, presenters, students, business users and householders
use it to collect and organize their ideas and information from
their computer screens and files.
Some even publish the end result as a web page for sharing with
others. One organization uses BrainStorm to create a computer
troubleshooting database which it keeps on the company intranet.
Users are obliged to visit this before they call for help.
Technical support calls have been cut by 50%.
Here are the main BrainStorm activities mentioned by users:
Capturing ideas and information
BrainStorm can be used to capture ideas and other information.
Paste, Smart paste and Magic paste all make screen capture easy
and, in the case of Magic paste, almost invisible. More
importantly, BrainStorm is so responsive that it can be used to
capture ideas on the fly, whether coming from your own head or
from a discussion group.
Organizing the raw material
Most use BrainStorm to organize their thoughts and related
information. Many use it for task lists. And some use it for time
and deadline monitoring. Some assemble the material into an
outline, some into a catalogue and others into lists. It doesn't
really matter how you use BrainStorm, it will support you however
you prefer to work.
Storing & archiving
Some people use BrainStorm to store or archive information. It
might be the gleanings from surfing the web, it might be research
notes or, in one case, extended genealogy charts. We have one user
that has been doing this for almost 20 years. As a television
producer he can go back and 'think his way in' to any program
he has ever produced.
Revealing missing material
One of the useful aspects of BrainStorm is the way in which
it reveals gaps and omissions. As one user said, "It helps
crystallize my thoughts while writing or studying." It soon
becomes clear where more thought or research is needed. Or,
indeed, where too much attention has been focused.
Planning the next steps
For many users the capturing and organizing is all they need.
Others go on to plan their writing, teaching, presentations,
meetings, holidays, renovation projects, parties, life or whatever
from the raw material.
Writing & reporting
Writers and those who have to write as part of their main job
find BrainStorm is helpful not only for the research and planning
stages but as a companion while writing. All the raw material is
instantly accessible within BrainStorm either by navigating
through the structure or, as many people will, by using the
Sharing with others
BrainStorm models can be shared with other BrainStorm users
in their native form. They can be exported as a text file
(outline format optional) for use in other programs. They can be
printed. Or they can be published as an HTML page which retains
all the original structure and cross-links. Any browser will
present this page to the user to the best of its ability. Recent
versions of Internet Explorer run almost as quickly as native
BrainStorm. Older versions reload the page each time the view
changes. And cranky old browsers show it as an outline.