Re: [unrev-II] Visual stimuli & IBIS methodology

Date: Tue Nov 06 2001 - 09:32:30 PST

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    Eric wrote:

    >I have to agree that this a weakness of the system. In effect, it asks
    people to learn algebra in order to do what they normally do, but do it
    better. Symbolic logic was intended as a step in that direction, but it
    failed to capture important nuances in useful ways. Our hope with
    computerized systems is that we can do a better job of making important
    relationships apparent to the beholder (or ourselves, when working on a
    hard problem) but it is not clear that we have the mental cycles to do
    that well, even as the beholder -- much less as the author.

    I agree with much of this, but not that the difficulty of
    learning/practicing IBIS in any of its variants implies a 'weakness of the
    system'. Doing IBIS correctly and effectively, especially in real time in
    front of a group of people, does indeed require practice and mastery. But
    so do many other worthwhile things -- playing a musical instrument,
    learning a sport, writing code.... The fact that playing the guitar, for
    example, requires years of effort doesn't imply that this is a weakness of
    the instrument. You can do powerful stuff with a guitar if you have the
    right (painfully acquired) skills.

    Having practiced IBIS and variants for many years, as well as taught and
    mentored many others (as well as seen too many try to adopt it and fail),
    I've started to think that perhaps we need to upgrade the frame of
    reference we use for the skill required to create useful "algebras" for
    collaborative design and decision-making. The toughest part is getting the
    initial real-time 'capture' right. Once the raw material is there in the
    right form, adding value to it with computational and other processes is
    relatively easy. But discerning what is "right" has many dimensions -- what
    is right for that particular group of people, faced with their particular
    task and constraints, with their particular collection of learning and
    discourse styles... It takes a lot of judgement, creativity, experience,
    and skill to determine and apply all these -- just as it does to do the
    right thing in a basketball game or jazz improvisation.

    Jeff Conklin and others (disclaimer: including me) argue some of this in
    the paper "Facilitated Hypertext for Collective Sensemaking: 15 Years on
    from gIBIS",


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