I have been watching the posts by Dave Winer and others about the whole outlining thing, and I feel bad because I am certainly willing to try Instant Outlining and I know there is something important going on. But, I guess, like Jenny, the mind-bomb hasn't fully gone off yet. I'm pretty sure it will because I think outlines are a great thing. Really amazing things. Powerful tools, that have not been fully discovered.
About a year ago, one of the software companies that makes a legal case management tool that I use ("CaseMap") came out with a new product called "NoteMap." The legal bulletin board discussion group that I monitor had a few favorable reviews of the software so I decided to try it. I was blown away. It doesn't do anything really special except make it really easy to create and modify an outline. But that in itself was an amazing thing.
It was especially amazing to me because I consider myself to be a decent writer, and I usually have a strong sense of what I want to say and how I want to say it. So I had never really used outlines, and didn't really think they were really all that helpful for me. I had tried to use the outline feature in WordPerfect but it was just too cumbersome. I figured that outlines were only worth the trouble if you had a lot of difficulty figuring out what you wanted to say. It never occurred to me that they could help anyone become a better writer.
NoteMap was cool because it let me focus on just the outline of ideas (free from the need to "flesh out" the ideas). Since I discovered that program, I use it for almost everything that I write (except this blog, which explains a lot I'm sure). I certainly would never write another brief or legal article or memo without outlining. My take on the idea of outlining is that it is an amazing tool that really takes off when it is put into digital form. Outlining is an important form of communication in itself, especially in this era where we have less time to assimilate information and where the information itself is becoming more complex. I have no doubt that the mind-bomb will go off and that once I figure out what the whole deal is with outlining in Radio I will appreciate why Dave and the others are so enthusiatic.