A little while ago, Charlie down at Myself as Written dropped a reference to WikidPad. It sounded like something I ought to possess, though it took me a few weeks to get around to downloading, installing, and comprehending its various uses.
WikidPad is aptly named, being both wiki-like and adjectively wicked. Although I've been using it at what I believe is only the shallowest level, it has extensive virtues even there.
Firstly, WikidPad possesses a simple interface that lets you create, catalogue, and search notes. You can create trees out of your notes--subjecting characters to stories and settings to plots, for example, and thereby articulating the entire chain of any particular narrative. You can also search by note-heading, allowing you to rapidly recall a particularly idea or find its place within a chain.
But that's not all! What I personally find far more impressive, from a mental-mapping and note-taking standpoint, isn't the fact that you can create hierarchies (trees) of notes, but that you can crossreference--link--between notes. I find this really useful because I frequently come up with characters that would work well in different stories or situations. I can link notes on characters, stories, and settings together so that I can jump across ideas and see different ways to combine them. And the linking process is only as complicated as wrapping the subject in question in square brackets.
These functions are all relatively simple, but it is the compact nature of WikidPad that makes it so functionally excellent. Once you create a wiki, you have access to all your notes, in one place, accessed by a single program. If I understand correctly, the program stores your work in .txt files and uses database software to link it all together; this means that WikidPad is lightning fast and lightweight. Creating new notes is simple, linking them is simple, building trees is simple... WikidPad is simple, simple, simple, and it is my opinion that it is programs such as this that result in really big wells of creative power (another example, to riff off it again, is the inestimable Q10).
One thing that WikidPad seems to lack is tagging, which to me feels like something that any sensible database program ought to make use of these days. But then, I also use the web-program Evernote, which has tagging capabilities; and despite the fact that I always enter tags for my notes, I never search those tags since I tend to go into Evernote looking, not for a bevy of notes tagged "short story prompts," but for the paragraphs I joted down in reference to a particular subject.
In that sense, I think the linking feature of WikidPad is more useful, since it can help remind me of correlations I may have seen earlier, but had forgotten by the time I return to an idea. Since I can link the notes, both notes exist, in effect, in "multiple dimensions"--standing alone, and standing with others.
If anyone knows of any hidden or monumentous capabilities that WikidPad possesses (and that I haven't mentioned here), let me know. I'm already really appreciating it, simple though it may be; but hidden powers are, of course, the purview of the speculative fictionalist!