Building on these, I think that Simon's idea of thinking about all of our tools as being different interfaces into a common accumulating data set is also particularly interesting in the context of the thought experiment; with the collaborative ideal being that whatever tool(s) the group opts to experiment with at the outset, the experiment would be symbiotic for all the tools and for the broader research / professional interests within the group.
So another potential question / decision for us to explore as a group might be how best to facilitate this symbiotic ideal?
David, I think that's a nice question for us to explore. Debategraph and the Collaboratorium explore somewhat different parts of the argumentation system design space, which should help enrich our discussion about tool requirements, especially since I think we will be able to exchange datasets between the tools and thus compare them when applied to the same corpus.
My current understanding of some of the differences (please correct my misunderstandings) include: The Collaboratorium adheres to an IBIS model, while Debategraph allows a wider range of post types, producing a more narrative feel to the map (which I like). The Collaboratorium's central focus is exploring how argumentation can work with large-scale communities, for which purpose it has the concept of moderators who verify that a post is correctly argument mapped before it is "certified" (i.e. made viewable outside the author community). Debategraph doesn't have a certification process like that, though editors can always edit posts post-hoc if they need to be revised.
Thanks Mark. Like you, my instinct is that it ought to be reasonably straightforward to enable the exchange of datasets between the tools—if that's what the group decides to do—and I'm sure that IBIS will be a key element of this. That said, there are others within the group more qualified than me to speak on this.
You are right too that a subset of the Debategraph element types maps directly to the IBIS model and that moderation occurs on the debate map (with an edit history providing an additional safety net). One our main focuses as well has been on how to enable the visualisation of, and navigation through, large-scale, multi-dimensional debates and clusters of interrelated debates.
A good starting point for the group ahead of the first conference call might be for everyone to plan to get a basic feel for each of the available tools (where they don't have this already). To which end, I'll happily guide anyone who would be interested in doing so through Debategraph over the phone/Skype and will gladly respond to any reciprocal offers.
I would like to see if I can us all set up in a shared Compendium database, as one of the candidate tools to evaluate. But the "groupware version" I'm working with is somewhat of a hack at the moment and there are two limitations: it only works on Windows, and many corporate firewalls block direct access to the MySQL server. So I'd like to hear from anyone that is either (a) on a non-Windows platform or (b) behind a serious firewall.
Dang. I don't know a thing about Windows emulators, I'm afraid. Another option might be trying to get Michelle at KMi to make us a Mac release of the groupware version, but that may be asking a lot, I'm not sure.
The good news is that there's plenty for us all to do to explore Collaboratorium and Debategraph and get a feeling for their capabilities before the conference call.
One thing this topic made me wonder is: what are the largest (in terms of number of contributors, as well as number of nodes) argument maps that have been created to date? My impression is that the majority are created by a single editor, though they may be summarizing the thoughts of many others, and that they max out at a few hundred nodes, but that's just a guess. If we can identify some large-scale existing cases, perhaps we can learn from them.
An excellent question, and one that (I would suggest) merits its own discussion thread.
I don't appear to have the ability to move the question directly to a new thread—Ning's admin features aren't sufficiently sophisticated in this respect—so, if you agree, would you be happy to repost this as a new discussion thread on the forum?
Last spring we started working on way to have a multi-user Compendium so that people could engage in a space for collaborative, distributed mapping. Basically, it shows that there is considerable promise for supporting collaborative, distributed mapping to support sense-making for complex problems. Al Selvin and Jeff Conklin provided valuable advice along the way.
The Multi-User Compendium has all of Compendium's features but alas not all are yet functional. However, basic mapping, transclusions, and importing of documents are available. We have also created some workarounds and we have a reasonably good sense of what needs to be fixed but time and money now stand in the way. Hopefully Jeff's web based version of Compendium will be available soon. In the meantime, our citrix based version could provide a stepping stone.
So, if people want to play around with it or use it, that is quite possible and would really help us learn how to technically and socially support such intellectual work.
I've set it up a space that could be used to explore Jeff's proposed thought experiment.
I will send each of you the url and usernames/passwords via email so that you can try it out. If others would like to join, I can have usernames/passwords set up.
I'm attaching the instructions for logging on. To use compendium we can rely on the vids made by Simon and now Jeff's debut video module.