Friday, June 05, 2009

Compendium is more than argumentation, or mind-mapping, or ...

Based on the discussions on the compendiuminstitute yahoogroup, and even more on the "nature of interest in Compendium" entries in our download log, there's been a surge of interest in Compendium in recent months. Much of this falls into two categories: people who are interested in Compendium's argument-mapping capabilities, or -- the larger category -- people who are investigating Compendium as an alternative to mind-mapping tools.

These are both great uses of Compendium, but there is a lot more to the software.

By intention, design, and functionality, Compendium provides many ways to link things together. You can start with making a single map that follows a particular scheme, such as IBIS or mind-mapping. As you build up more maps, you can use techniques like tags, transclusions, and templates to add many levels of connections. Compendium supports the creation of very large information spaces that can hold things like sets of pictures and photos, links to files, free-form text and writing, sound and movies, and tie them together in both formal (argument maps, models, structured views) and informal (let your imagination be the guide!) ways.

At its heart Compendium is a way to connect all sorts of views, ideas, images, and other resources together, in all sorts of ways. I encourage people to explore all the things they can do with it.


ben said...

"At its heart Compendium is a way to connect all sorts of views, ideas, images, and other resources together, in all sorts of ways."
Years ago (many?) I tried to initiate a discussion along the lines of "doing many, many things, but none well enough". Without credentials, and not being one of the "core group", my gestures were simply ignored.
But I persisted and recently, with your introduction of the art meme, I realized our paths have crossed again, if they haven't actually converged.

My work has had to do with the under-pinnings of conviction ... what underlies decisions. ("Conversion experience" as used in cog-psych is too strict to use generally. That's sad ... it conveys a key point.)

Recently I've been considering entasis, the application of technique for "aesthetic" purposes. But that's too narrow: it should, more rightly, be called the application of technique for communicative purposes: if the column's sides don't appear to be straight then *shrug* curve them so that they appear to be so. Yes? Yes.
An aspect of rhetoric? That's too much for me to say ... I'm a man without credentials. But I know it is effectively so, and that's good enough for me. Techne, no?

BTW: You won't have seen this on Kailash's post today, though I wrote about it before you went there ... he merely witheld his approval. Rhetoric of another sort? *shrug* I call it sophistry ... however plausibly deniable, it's merely the use of force to perpetuate the present order of things.
Is why I've been working on this for 34 years with naught but contempt: the present order of things.

"When Cicero speaks, peoples say "My but he speaks well". When Demosthenes speaks, people say "Now let us march".

Al said...


I hope the core group that ignored your gestures was not Compendium's. If it was, I apologize. If that happened it certainly had nothing to do with credentials, which are not of much meaning to me (short, still, of some myself).

Can you provide some pointers to your writings on the under-pinnings of conviction and entasis?


ben said...

@Al - I grabbed hold of entasis only very recently (a PBS documentary on the Parthenon's design features), hoping to use it as a "nearly good enough" descriptor for something I've been grapplling with for years. The original idea (from playing with VRML to present concept clouds ... late 90s) was that "meaning" acted like a strange attractor that organized constellations of concepts. Because I've concentrated on design / implementation / deployment rather than the elaboration of theory (I truly do admire / envy your scholarship!) that appreciation is what seeded my "gnodal" design and moved me away from the graphical approach I think of with cMap, Compendium, Rationale.

Say, does anyone talk about "cognitive ergonomics" these days? In the mid-80s it looked that that was going to become common currency, but I don't thing it did.

p.s. ... from 2003/04

ben said...

p.s. pondering at once my experience with VRML concept clouds and the fact of the Parthenon's columns I remember working with Dr. John Fentress on "organization of movement" (neuro-physiology / ethology): no nerve assembly (Hebb cells?) are functional without the others that are peripheral; no term is meaningful without the terms and concepts that comprise its context. This moved me to design a presentation system that de-constructed wicked problems into constellations that were as simple as possible i.e. Occam's razor at work.
What I found was that this was something like fractal: to drill down at all lead to yet another constellation of concepts which itself would be subjected to further de-construction. Like in the Zen joke, "There's no bottom to this well!"