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What is BrainStorm really good for?


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 search facility.

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.