Global Sensemaking

Tools for Dialogue and Deliberation on Wicked Problems

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.)

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Me too. :-) What I'm trying to get at is that no tool that I'm aware of supplies the kind of guidance you'd get from an expert moderator/facilitator who, for example, might suggest at a given point in the discussion a particular method to move the discussion along. (Let's vote on these choices, or let's brainstorm some alternatives on this branch of the argument, or this position is hanging out there with no compelling evidence to support it.)
I still think it's impossible to consider a tool before considering the market. For example, newspapers edit their articles to a grade level 6 or below, yet their average reader is well above that. They don't know who their reader might be, so they make the language simple. I think any tool will be subject to that same simple mentality if it's going to see broad public adoption.

Users love the simplicity of Google. The web as we know it, from what I understand, wasn't the most elegant solution. It was one of the simplest. That's caused headaches in the long run, but it might never have been adopted otherwise.

So what if the market was divorcees, and fifth graders, and policymakers, and... well... everyone? What is the simplest and most intuitive collective sensemaking strategy for mass collaboration? Better yet, what are the absolute minimum criteria for a piece of software to make sense of any complex issue, and still be called a sensemaking tool? How much expressiveness and structure are we willing to sacrifice in the name of adoption?

IBIS in a basic mind/concept map is the simplest I've seen. I wouldn't be here had I not been introduced to it.
Quick modification to my own post from last night. Replace that first sentence with: "If we were to consider a tool before considering the market, it only makes sense to create a tool for the lowest common denominator."

Also, Jack, Gustav ended up being pretty tame, so I didn't have to shift into crisis mode. Thanks for asking.
I believe the goal that the group is attempting to achieve is key here; as a group, are we looking to solve large scale problems in society or achieving funding to advance the development of these types of tool sets through practical successes?

My own two-cents (hey, I'm new here) would be to target businesses first to help financially with the development of the tool. I'm not suggesting getting greedy here, but funding would help the tool evolve as well as provide larger societal groups with practical applications via case studies.

If you can make it work in businesses of various sizes, larger scale world problems would seem to be the next progressive step.


While targeting businesses is a harder sell than the general public, they do make sense for financial development. Since it's a new idea, sufficient simplicity would make it an easier sell to both the general public and businesses.

Personally I'm kinda hoping Google steps into the arena. It's a way of organizing complex information, which is right up their alley.
Regardless of which market is most appropriate, what about language choice? I've been reading through many posts, and I have yet to find a discussion about the social and cultural perception of sensemaking terminology.

Any thoughts on the public perception of the words "Argument" and "Debate"? Though I understand their appropriateness in the context of engineers (they are appropriate terms), most of the world doesn't consist of engineers. Has anyone here looked into the effects of those words on first-time users of sensemaking tools?
I personally have trouble with both those terms. I think they are well understood in this community as technical terms but are problematic with the general public where a much wider range of connotations apply.
Everyone has a point of view, some more passionate than others. Some point of views are naive, some have spent years in refinement. The market should focus on providing the public with a forum to refine, publish, supply a wider perspective of the truth, and provide a more democratic method for visibility. The state of the media is dismal. I would suggest this should be the market focus.

Below is an essay I developed which has microscopic chance of visibility in any newspaper or magazine editorial. Namely because it infringes on the business model. Secondly, the author is not a member of the media elite.

In the grand scheme of the political discussion nobody is focused on your point of view.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Keith Olbermann deserve every penny they are paid. These guys are not greedy, Rush's 8 year $400 million, Sean's 5 year $100 million, and Keith's 1 year $7.5 million dollar contracts are a drop in the bucket compared to the salary they could command based on the public focus of their opinion.

Certainly these individuals are convincing orators. Noone should blame them for the public's inability to express a wider point of view. If I am not making since, I would suggest drumming up a political discussion at a family reunion, a bar, a coffee shop, or with your backyard neighbor. Whether the argument is about abortion, taxes, pollution, fiscal responsibility, liberty, freedom, or terrorism I would suggest Rush, Sean, or Keith's subatomic focus has more influence in the discussion than anything having direct bearing to anyone in the conversation.

A political argument should not be left sitting on the backyard fence next to the empty beer bottles. Good citizenship depends on individuals polishing their point of view so it can be understood and respected by others. Providing the tools for developing personal points of view and providing a more democratic method of visibility for the argument is my suggestion to democratize the argument.

The reality of our existing media is beyond repair.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the
existing model obsolete. -- R. Buckminster Fuller

If Wikipedia can democratize the factual essay, if Craig's List can cut out the middle man in selling your junk, and if Google can render the Dewey Decimal System obsolete, certainly the editorial page can be put in control of the people.





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