RE: [unrev-II] Semantic Community Web Portal (Formality Harmful)

From: Gil Regev (
Date: Thu Sep 13 2001 - 13:48:10 PDT

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    RE: [unrev-II] Semantic Community Web Portal (FormalitHi Simon,

    One of the most troubling aspects that Shipman and Marshall note is the

    An example of this interference is McCall's observation that design students
    have difficulty producing IBIS-style argumentation even though videotapes of
    their design sessions show that their naturally occurring discussions follow
    this structure [Fischer et al. 91]. A physiological example of the
    interference that making tacit knowledge conscious can cause is breathing
    (also from McCall). When a person is asked to breath normally, their normal
    breathing will be interrupted. Furthermore, chances are that introspection
    about what normal breathing means will cause the person's breathing to
    become abnormal -- exaggeratedly shallow, overly deep, irregular.

    I also have rather anecdotal experiences of the same kind. If this is
    gloabally true than we should avoid creating tools that mimic the way we
    think. Did you find the same aspect in your research?

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Simon Buckingham Shum []
      Sent: jeudi, 13. septembre 2001 21:33
      Subject: RE: [unrev-II] Semantic Community Web Portal (Formality Harmful)


      Just browsing threads in a rare free moment!

      At 11:00 AM +0200 9/10/01, Gil Regev wrote:
        This discussion reminds me of the paper by Shipman and Marshall called
    "Formality Considered harmful". They show how and why people don't take this
    extra step of documenting code, structuring their discussions with IBIS
    (which the explicitly name) etc. It's not a long paper and is easy to read.
    You can get it at:

      This is a great paper to point structuralist metadata and AI people to(!),
    highlighting the reluctance that normal people have to structure their
    interactions and ideas explicitly unless they can really see the payoff.
    From my own work on the formalism cost-benefit tradeoff (including empirical
    studies of designers using QOC, a Xerox version of IBIS, and a major lit.
    review [1]), there's definitely a fine line to negotiate on this front.

      Refusing to accept wholesale Shipman and Marshall's rejection of
    formalisms for knowledge work - but maintaining a healthy scepticism! - more
    recent work suggests that with facilitation, people can learn to do it in
    real time, and reap benefits in f-f meetings [2]. But there is no silver
    bullet - useful real time knowledge capture (ie. not just pressing record on
    the video) doesn't come for free. Intellectual effort must be invested at
    some point in the capture/indexing lifecycle.

      Using IBIS to structure asynchronous interaction doesn't have the same
    real time constraints on capture, and may be more fruitful, though again,
    unclear if people will bother in the end, and whether they'll use the node
    types consistently. The problem with boxes is they have walls... an Issue
    may appear as an Argument, a Position as an Issue, etc etc



      [1] Buckingham Shum, S. and N. Hammond (1994). "Argumentation-Based Design
    Rationale: What Use at What Cost?" International Journal of Human-Computer
    Studies 40(4): 603-652. (Reprint available on request)

      [2] Conklin, J., A. Selvin, et al. (2001). Facilitated Hypertext for
    Collective Sensemaking: 15 Years on from gIBIS. Proc. ACM Hypertext 2001,
    Aug. 14-18, Århrus, Denmark, ACM Press: New York. (Short paper, based on a
    longer paper:


      Buckingham Shum, S. and A. M. Selvin (2000). Structuring Discourse for
    Collective Interpretation. Distributed Collective Practices 2000: Conference
    on Collective Cognition and Memory Practices, Paris, 19-20 Sept., 2000.

      Computer-Supported Collaborative Argumentation Resource Site:

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