You don’t need to hit a problem wall to start brainstorming. Brainstorming is a way to generate creative solutions by hitting a problem with as many ideas a group can think of. But the free-wheeling exercise is also a great way to see a topic from hidden angles.
Physical brainstorming may sound like a carefree slam-bang talk session, effective brainstorming hardly is. One way to notch up effectiveness is to take it online.
Online brainstorming can be done using anything from email to chat meeting rooms, and even Twitter. But why keep it that simple when you have a galaxy of brainstorming software apps out there. Way back we covered quite a few of them in 6 Excellent Brainstorming and Mindmapping Sites.
Since then, there have been quite a few of them that have featured in our directory. Let’s dig some of them out and see the different ways they can help us to pick our own brains.
Text2 Mind Map saves you a lot of the plotting and drawing work by taking a list of structured ideas and converting it all into a linked mindmap. But does it take a shortcut through the right brain stirring creative process by saving you the line drawing work? That you have to find out for yourself; but yes, Text 2 Mind Map is a fast way to see interlinks between the items in your list. On the mindmap, you can change color, font, line color, and line width. You can download the generated map as a JPEG. (See Directory mention)
Great ideas need to be managed and Wridea provides you an online place to do just that. You can create ideas and then categorize them. As ideas need to be spread around, you can collaborate on them by sharing your ideas with your friends. The feature of idea sharing with groups or the Wridea community makes this app a useful brainstorming tool as participants can give feedback and ideas of their own. Once you have your ideas stocked up, you can find an inspiring one with the application’s “˜Idea Rain’ feature. (See Directory mention)
Whiteboards are great for chalking out ideas on virtual drawing surface. If you are a designer, an engineer, or someone who just likes to explain things with a doodle, you can try any of the gazillion whiteboard apps out there. Scribblar is a free whiteboard app that gives you active collaboration features like live chat, live audio, a whiteboard, image sharing, and multi-language support. You can upload and save snapshots and external image files. The whiteboard supports all major browsers and multiple users can brainstorm using tools like a shared pointer and other tools.
If individual brainstorming is what you are looking for, then this simple online mindmapping app is worth a try. You can start off without a log-in if you don’t want to save the mindmap. The mindmap features spheres as nodes and you can drag them around to give shape to your thoughts. You can make the mindmaps public and also export them as an image file.
Solvr has the interface of a simple search engine but it is actually a unique problem solving app. The next step involves adding a comment, an idea, or another problem to the original statement. After defining your problem, you can send the cryptic URL to your group who can add a comment, an idea, or another query to expand the original topic. The usefulness of this simple brainstorming tool is that with the cryptic URL, you can really spread it around on Skype, email, Twitter, or any social network. Solvr also has a Chrome browser app. (See Directory mention)
Thanks to digital tools, collaborative brainstorming and side-by-side researching has become faster than the speed of thought. You can take any social communication tool and use it to brainstorm an idea.
There’s Twitter for you as a good enough real time brainstorming tool. Or you can use Google Search with a few keywords to get some insight into a problem. An app like Jagimo can also be treated as a brainstorming game with its free iPhone app.
How do you brainstorm online? Let us know about your favorite brainstorming software.