I've been reading Tony Buzan's "The Mind Map Book" and admiring many of the colorful and whimsical maps he created to demonstrate the power and effectiveness of mind mapping. Hand-drawn maps have many attractive qualities: they reflect a person's unique personality and style; they have a rough, spontaneous feeling to them; and they can squeeze information into as tight a pattern as the artist can imagine (or be able to squint at and still read!).
But think about how much time went into creating them. Each of them must have taken many drafts before Buzan came up with a polished final version, and each of these would have to be redrawn from scratch. Also, many of his maps attempt to fit too much information into a single page; they're over-complicated. This may be because of the inconvenience of creating multiple maps to cover a single topic. (In NovaMind 5, that's no problem.) I have drawn mind maps by hand, and I am blessed with a modicum of artistic ability, but I believe that NovaMind 5 trumps hand-drawn maps hands down.
Using the program makes the job of creating a map so much easier. It allows for instant redaction and for changes of ornamentation, formatting, coloring, etc., etc., with a minimum of effort. If a mind mapper wanted to incorporate hand-drawn graphics, no problem! He or she could scan them and paste them into the map with minimal effort. I've done this myself.
There's really no significant advantage in creating maps by hand over using the program. The only possible leg up that a hand-drawn map might bestow on its creator is that his or her intimate involvement in visualizing topic placement, creating graphics, choosing colors for branches, redoing the map multiple times, and so on, would help him or her in memorizing a map's content. But of course a NovaMind 5 user could simply spend more time studying his or her application-drawn map to gain the same level of retention.
The more adept a user becomes with the program, the more personal and idiosyncratic his or her maps will become. A user has to climb a learning curve to exploit fully the design possibilities of NovaMind 5. It takes experience to become fluid and proficient with the program's tools. I've been using it for awhile and I just discovered how to format text in a way I'd never explored previously, and I know that the program still has a wealth of functionality, short-cuts, and tricks that I've never learned yet.
NovaMind 5 really is a giant leap forward in mind mapping software, and I can't wait to see all the add-ons and extensions that Gideon & Co., and third-party developers, will come up with in the months and years ahead.