Sunday, December 02, 2007

Essential attributes

Those closest to Compendium have been in a cycle for the last 14 years of tool making, tool using, and studying tool using. This has led to a set of what for me are the essential attributes of knowledge art tool and practices:

- mixing of formal and informal, structured and unstructured, analytical and expressive

- ability to ask a question of anything (dialogue always an option)

- multiple perspectives, multiple representations, layers of meaning

- same idea in many contexts, ability to see and use the different relationships of any idea to others in different contexts

- ability to feed into, and be fed from, other tools and media, especially computational / database tools

- infinite expandability

- rapid, responsive malleability of the representation (direct manipulation, not just a generated graphical view)

- ability to get to any level of the underlying data, not just the surface pictures and text

- ability to publish the data in many forms (including as web pages)

So far, Compendium is the fullest realization of these attributes. But it is somewhat of a first step. As the supporting technologies continue to evolve, and as we get a clearer idea of how they should work through continued practice, I'm positive new tools will emerge. Anyone out there working on one?

(Notice I don't include asynchronous, groupware access as an essential attribute. It may be essential for marketability (never, at least so far, our strong suit), but I'm still not convinced it is essential, especially when there are so many other well-established ways of doing that. I still think that hooking Compendium to one of those ways (e.g. wiki) would be a fine approach. It's possible this makes me misguided, a dinosaur, or a minority of one.)

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