We’ve probably all used “concept maps” at one time or another to puzzle out a procedure or as a study aid. Or as a means to understand the implications of some thing or event. The key features of a concept map are:
Starting concept or question
Linkages to related concepts, as far as you want to go
Concept maps are never finished, since everything links to something else.
Here’s an example of a question that has many real-world implications for resource use, air pollution, oil prices and so on:
What are the implications of personal automobile on a mass scale in China, or India? (Nations where very few people have owned cars until recently.)
For a wonderful article about driving in Beijing see Hessler in the 11/26/07 New Yorker.
Background on concept maps.