Global Sensemaking

Tools for Dialogue and Deliberation on Wicked Problems

Hi all,
I I've been wondering from quite some time now about design issues for argument diagrams. What should a diagram look like to help us make sense? The perceptual features are the reason we put complex issues in diagrams I would argue, but often the diagrams do not naturally give an overview, or show structure. I am not talking about boxes and arrows, but about ways to arrange these boxes, make parts more salient, etc. The argument itself is not changed, but secondary notation (Green & Petre, 1996) helps people in reading/ understanding it, just like titles and white spaces do in text.
I am currently writing a grant on researching design issues in learning with argument diagrams. Would like to discuss these things with others!

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Those are great questions, well worth discussing. One issue I've encountered is that the answers to these questions seem to change with the size of the map and the scope of the discussion. In a small map, we can keep the physical layout of the posts pretty fixed, and use that layout as a kind of secondary notation. In a large and rapidly changing map, however, I believe that graphical layouts become impractical, and we have to try something different e.g. narrative summaries of different subsets of the argument map.

I agree with you completely. Design depends a lot on how big the map is, or how difficult the issue, or on whether more than one person is working on it for that matter.
I did a short study where I asked people's preferences for text or diagram on different difficulty levels. When the argument was very simple or very difficult, people tended to prefer text over graphical displays. When intermediate, they preferred diagrams. However, this preference may also be extended when a good design is imposed. But the question remains whether there is such a thing as a 'good' design.






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