30 November 2023

Navigating the Cognitive Landscape: How AI Enhances Mind Mapping

I wrote a blog post about the spiritual community of Harmonia, Michigan in January of 2020. Before writing the Harmonia post, I used mind mapping to map out the topics I wanted to cover. 

The Mind Map-Harmonia was created using 
Mind Map Template 1 from templatelab.com

Mind mapping starts with a central theme, my blue circle. It radiates out from the center with ideas relevant to the topic, my lighter blue circles, and then my white circles. Ron Arons, the author of Mind Mapping for Genealogy, demonstrated Mind Mapping in a Legacy Family Tree Webinar. I was intrigued by its potential use in blogging. I don't use it for every blog post, but for blog posts that have a number of sections to it. 

This is a nice example using a template at templatelab.com. Mind mapping helped me organize my thoughts and categorize them in a way when I started writing I could go from one topic to the next. Mind mapping worked for me in 2020.

Now in 2024 there is artificial intelligence. Could artificial intelligence and an artificial intelligence generator provide me with a mind map to use in my writing? I tried it using Harmonia as an example. Using the AI generator application, ChatGPT 3.5, I wrote, "Create a mind map for writing about Harmonia, Michigan." This is what I got back.

"Creating a mind map is a great way to organize your thoughts and ideas for writing about Harmonia, Michigan. Here's a basic mind map structure to help you get started:

Main Topic: Harmonia, Michigan

  1. Introduction

    • Location
    • Brief history
    • Significance
  2. Geography and Location

    • Map of Michigan
    • Harmonia's position within the state
    • Surrounding areas
  3. Historical Background

    • Founding of Harmonia
    • Early settlers
    • Key historical events
  4. Demographics and Population

    • Current population
    • Diversity
    • Trends in population over time
  5. Economy

    • Major industries
    • Employment opportunities
    • Economic development projects
  6. Culture and Community

    • Local traditions and festivals
    • Community organizations
    • Social life and recreational activities
  7. Education

    • Schools in Harmonia
    • Educational institutions
    • Academic achievements
  8. Natural Attractions

    • Parks and green spaces
    • Lakes, rivers, and outdoor activities
    • Wildlife and conservation efforts
  9. Landmarks and Tourist Attractions

    • Notable landmarks
    • Places of interest for visitors
    • Historical sites
  10. Local Businesses and Services

    • Shops and stores
    • Restaurants and cafes
    • Services available in Harmonia
  11. Challenges and Opportunities

    • Economic challenges
    • Community development opportunities
    • Infrastructure and environmental concerns
  12. Future Outlook

    • Upcoming projects and developments
    • Vision for Harmonia
    • Potential for growth and improvement
  13. Personal Experiences

    • Your personal experiences or interviews with residents
    • Stories that capture the essence of Harmonia
    • Unique perspectives
  14. Conclusion

    • Summarize key points
    • Highlight the essence of Harmonia, Michigan
    • Future prospects
  15. References

    • List of sources, books, articles, and interviews used for research

You can expand upon each branch of the mind map to develop a comprehensive and well-structured essay or article about Harmonia, Michigan. This framework will help you cover various aspects of the town in an organized manner."

This is way more extensive than I anticipated. It doesn't have pretty colors and shapes, but it gets the job done.  It goes into more detail than I would want for one blog post. If I was writing multiple blog posts or even a book, this would be helpful. This is just one way I could see it benefiting family history writers. 

I am excited to see what artificial intelligence will bring to the genealogical community. Could it write my blog posts for me? I bet it could, but would it be reliable? accurate? How would I source it? Where does ChatGPT get its information? There are so many questions. This disclaimer, "ChatGPT can make mistakes. Consider checking important information" can be found on the ChatGPT website.

Have you used AI in your research or writing? My readers and I would enjoy hearing about it.

Disclaimer: I used ChatGPT 3.5 to generate the title of this blog post.


  1. I'm interested in learning more about Harmonia. My paternal grandfather and his father had their basic trainings at Fort Custer during WWII and WWI, respectively. I did/do not know about the early history of the area before it was Fort Custer, and am looking forward to future blog posts about it.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Miriam. Since I have been volunteering at Fort Custer I have learned a lot about the area where Fort Custer was built. It is interesting history.