8(1), November 1990, pages 105-106

Software Review
A Hypertext Tool
Reviewed by C. J. Wallia

IDEAFISHER, a unique hypertext tool for creative thinking, consists of three main parts: a huge thesaurus of words and phrases representing ideas and images, a notepad, and a series of questions that stimulate the user's creative-thinking process. It's designed for use in many types of tasks: developing names, titles, themes, slogans; creating marketing strategies and promotional campaigns; designing products or services; developing a speech, story, or script; conceptualizing, developing, and producing advertisements.

The three components of IDEAFISHER are the "QBank," the "IdeaBank," and the "Idea NotePad." IDEAFISHER's questions are organized in "QBank," a storehouse of more then three thousand questions that serve to "define, clarify, modify, and evaluate goals, ideas, and results," according to the promotional literature. Users can also add their own questions for storage in the "QBank."

The "IdeaBank" is a massive database of idea words, concepts, and associations with a collection of "more than 61,000 idea words structured into 28 Major Categories and 387 Topical Categories totalling more than 25 megabytes, compressed into 7 megabytes" (promotional literature). These numbers represent a cross-reference power of more than 705,000 direct idea associations and many more secondary, linked associations.

The "Idea NotePad" provides basic word-processing capabilities with which the user can annotate the words and phrases that are automatically recorded while exploring the "IdeaBank." The "NotePad" also records the users' responses to the questions in the "QBank."

I used IDEAFISHER to come up with the title of my current writing project, The Editor's Guide: A Self-Teaching Tutorial on The Chicago Manual of Style. I started with questions provided by IDEAFISHER, which prompted me to define and refine my needs. From my responses to the questions, IDEAFISHER extracted words and phrases, displaying them so that I could select from among additional words and phrases supplied by IDEAFISHER database. The whole process of coming up with the final title seemed easier IDEAFISHER than it might have otherwise. My belief is supported by a research report published in Psychology Today (1989, August) in which psychologist David Watson of the University of Hawaii found that "people who use the IDEAFISHER lists can work longer on a creative task . . . and produce a much larger number of ideas."

Using the relational database system of Revelation Technologies, IDEAFISHER was developed by a team of authors, scholars, librarians, and programmers who spent "more then 200 man-years of effort," as asserted in the promotional literature of the product. I am impressed with how much IDEAFISHER helps me with my writing projects. I am not impressed with the poor organization of the manual, which unnecessarily lengthens the learning time and causes frustration.

If you enjoy using a thesaurus of words while writing, you'll find IDEAFISHER a very helpful tool in stimulating your ideas.

C. J. Wallia teaches at Vista Community College in Berkeley, CA.

IDEAFISHER; $595.00; system requirements: IBM PC with 640K RAM, 7MB of available hard disk space, DOS 3.1.