Re: [unrev-II] Letter to support open source release of Mifflin IBIS tool

From: Eric Armstrong (
Date: Wed Sep 26 2001 - 13:45:30 PDT

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    For the past couple of years, I have been an avid and vociferous
    advocate of the thinking that lies at the core of Douglas Engelbart's
    ideas -- the recognition of the need for tools that allow individuals
    to collaborate, to share knowledge, and to effectively solve problems
    in real time.

    During that time, I have had occasion to work with many bright minds,
    all of whom were focused on definining and elucidating the nature of
    that collaboration, and the means for sharing knowledge. We have
    reached a number of conclusions in the past two years, but one of the
    core realizations we have reached is that an IBIS-style argumentation/
    discussion system is central to constructing a viable collaboration

    Since the system needs to run on many different hardware platforms, it
    needs software underpinnings that are at once reliable, robust, and
    widespread. And since the tool itself will need to grow and evolve over
    time, the system needs to be well-designed and coded in a language
    that assists analysis and supports methodical development.

    The fact that Mifflin supports concept maps, IBIS constructs, and
    hyperlinks makes it a strongly viable candidate for the core of such
    a system. However, other needs have been adduced, such as the
    need for highly granular addressibility, and the need to rate candidate
    solutions. The fact that no existing system provides all of the required

    features at one time makes it clear that any system which serves as
    the initial foundation *must* be free to evolve and grow over time.

    Because Mifflin makes a highly viable foundation for this work,
    because it is usable in its own right, and because the world desperately

    needs the functionality that Mifflin provides today, and even more
    so the functionality that it can grow to acquire over time, I urge you
    to convert Mifflin into an open source project.

    Simon Buckingham Shum wrote:

    > Compendium Institute
    > Dear Colleague,
    > As you may know, members of the Compendium Institute have been
    > developing a hypertext concept mapping tool that supports IBIS-style
    > issue/argument mapping. The system, codenamed Mifflin, is written in
    > Java, and currently uses an Access database, running on Windows. It
    > is descended from and compatible with the QuestMap product that you
    > may already use [].
    > For historical reasons Mifflin has been developed at and is owned by
    > Verizon, USA), although the design effort has drawn in recent years
    > on the wider membership of Compendium users. We are now making the
    > case to Verizon that the release of Mifflin on an open source basis
    > is the most powerful way to see it developed.
    > As someone active in knowledge management, dialog mapping,
    > argumentation, concept mapping, or some other area that has a
    > connection to this, we would like to invite you to be a signatory to
    > the letter below, to strengthen our case that Mifflin is of interest
    > to a wide spectrum of users who would like to take it further. Maybe
    > you're already trying to build an IBIS-style concept mapping
    > environment. Or you can find immediate application for it. Or can see
    > useful extensions/customizations.
    > ACTION:
    > * Please reply to this and send Simon with your
    > Name (Position, Affiliation) if you would to be a signatory
    > * If you're willing also to write a letter of support expanding
    > on applications/visions for the tool, then please also do so and
    > send Simon a PDF (just a single page please!).
    > Please forward to any colleagues who may be interested.
    > Regards,
    > Albert Selvin (Verizon eBusiness, USA)
    > Simon Buckingham Shum (Knowledge Media Institute, Open Univ, UK)
    > ======================================================================
    > To (Verizon Management)
    > I have been working with Albert Selvin, Verizon eBusiness Technical
    > Group Leader, since 1998, on the Compendium approach to meeting
    > capture and business requirements analysis. As a researcher in
    > knowledge management and knowledge technologies, I regard the work
    > that he has been doing as unique within the field, and am delighted
    > that it is now being recognised more widely.
    > The Compendium approach is based around a hypertext system that Al's
    > team has developed in recent years, codenamed Mifflin. This enables
    > teams to capture their ideas and discussions in a visual, hyperlinked
    > medium. There are now many research groups who would like to use
    > this, and extend it further. Some are developing their own tools, but
    > this effort is simply duplicating what Mifflin already does. Mifflin
    > is robust, and its design and implementation make it an attractive
    > platform for many exciting new applications.
    > You will be familiar with the concept of Open Source software as an
    > internet-centric approach to developing promising new software. made
    > most famous by the Linux operating system. Software given away,
    > extended and re-released by a community committed to it.
    > I, and the undersigned international colleagues, are writing to
    > strongly support the idea of releasing Mifflin for free download over
    > the internet, plus the Java code on an open source license.
    > We would urge you to seriously consider this as the most creative and
    > powerful way to see Mifflin evolve in the future.
    > Yours,
    > Simon Buckingham Shum (Lecturer, Knowledge Media Institute, Open
    > Univ., UK)
    > The undersigned plan to use/extend Mifflin should it be released on
    > an open source basis:
    > <your name here!>
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