Who is the market for collective sensemaking software? What is the impact of putting personal interconnected knowledge sharing tools in the hands of different groups of people? (e.g. the general public in various cultures, policy makers, businesses, etc.)
To my knowledge we've never had a focused discussion on this specific topic, the assumptions being that the market is "everyone" (general public, government policy makers, commercial enterprises, non-profits/NGO's) and the impact is "generally good." I think the idea of tools and services to enhance sensemaking being beneficial is so fundamental in this community that no one has thought too much about breaking it down like you might in a business plan. That's probably a deficiency in our approach.
In traditional forms of research, collaborators share finished pieces of the research process - bibliographies, outlines, drafts of a paper, glossaries, etc. But online tools allow collaborators to share more systematically, and at all stages of the research process simultaneously. So my own view is that collective sensemaking is (can be) a methodology for research. "Forks" may appear in the shared research and development process, leading to different outcomes/products.
I concur with you on eventual scope of the market, but it might benefit adoption to focus on some strategic niches.
Sensemaking tools effectively encourage people to think differently about problems. In my own limited experience, I've found that age is inversely related to flexible thinking.
To generate momentum, targeting <30 will be a much easier initial market within that broad scope. Targeting older groups involves a far greater likelihood of encountering change resistance frustrations.
I'm thinking schools... teachers... students... etc. 15-30.
Targeting older groups involves a far greater likelihood of encountering change resistance frustrations.
Hmm, is age a differentiator for application functionality? For games, sure, I see that, although even here my nearly 60ish brother is way into the Wii. For serious apps, though? How would the design of a sensemaking application be informed by user age other than a version for kids and a version for adults "of all ages" as the packages usually say.
In my own limited experience, I've found that age is inversely related to flexible thinking.
Easy to find counter examples too.
I want sensemaking tools to do (at least) two things. One is to affect the people in power, to help them make better decisions. These are usually older people. The other is to influence the people who will be the future power players, the upcoming generation. So I'm very much interested in how to attract younger people. Just not sure how age might bear on design decisions. Do we have spreadsheets for >50 and a different version for <30?
Seems like an important use case. Can it be broken down to show more explicitly how a disaster relief scenario would inform design decisions? Seems to me it would have to do with user interface features to focus attention on critical inputs that need attention, those inputs which are tied to resource allocation decisions.
Also brings to mind the need to determine the user base. Is it the the general public or specific aid organizations. If the later, what sorts of methodology do they currently use? What sort of GSm tool would enhance their response? If the former, what's the goal? Maybe to map out the areas of greatest need. If so, what features and functions are needed in the GSm tool to give it credibility? That is, how do you know the information being provided by users is credible? That's a general issue with any tool that's open to public input.
Which comes first - the market or the tool design?
I concur with Adam - we must be more specific about market niches before coming to any realistic conclusions.
But I'm not seeing how that can be done in the absence of an assumed tool design.
In the interest of brainstorming, consider the following idea that at first I thought was off-topic. But on 2nd thought I realized it could be very relevant depending on the tool being discussed.
One of the most difficult decisions any two people can make is when to end a relationship. Would the "sensemaking sw" we have in mind help people make this decision?
If so, the market is likely pretty big - from this site, http://www.divorcereform.org/rates.html: "For men & women under age 45, about 50% of first marriages end in divorce." In the year 2000, this would have translated into a potential market of perhaps 2 million people (or rather that fraction of the market who might use a sensemaking tool to help them decide). And that's only considering married people under age 45.
But I suspect the tool Adam had in mind when he posed the question would not be very useful for these folks???
If so, can someone be more specific about the characteristics of the tool we're trying to discover the market for?
I think you've presented a good use case. How can a software tool hightlight the assumptions each participant brings to the table? And how then can it help the participants come to a common understanding?
DebateGraph is the only tool that I know of that explicitly highlights positions around a particular issue in a way that is designed to foster a consensus or further elaboration of the discussion. I think the "tool characteristics" you are seeking are initialized by the DebateGraph approach (which may be unfair to TruthMapping). What additional attributes a tool needs is to me an open question.
What current tools do not do is supply an overlay of intent. That is, we need a way of providing goal oriented behavior, something like: "Given THESE initial positions and THIS goal, here's a DECISION MAKING scheme to achieve the desired result." The given decision making scheme must be provided by a reputable expert.