While at NYU I had the pleasure of attending a guest lecture by Ken Perlin. During this talk about non-linear thinking he demoed a very old program he called Pad++. It’s unique hook was that it had the ability to infinitely zoom in or out, thereby allowing you to organize information spatially. So, for instance, you could organize an entire encyclopedia around the alphabet and each level of zoom into the letters could reveal more detail. We’ve seen this UI treatment a lot lately everywhere from Photosynth to the various Wefail “zoomer” sites.
Now there’s a mind-mapping software called Prezi that also employs this metaphor. Positioned as a web-based alternative to Powerpoint, the unique differentiator lies in it’s inherent non-linear structure. I’m kicking the tires on this a bit now and can’t wait for an opportunity to give this a try. Check it out.