Thoughts from last week on a dialog system:
“accordion (n.) 1831, from German Akkordion, from Akkord “musical chord, concord of sounds, be in tune” (compare Italian accordare “to attune an instrument”); ultimately from same source as English accord (v.), with suffix on analogy of clarion, etc. Invented 1829 by piano-maker Cyrill Demian (1772-1847) of Vienna.”*
The basic requirement / premise is that we need a place where we can engage in dialog but it should not be a simple, ephemeral discussion board, it should also include larger posts and documents – inline.
So here is the basic invention, a web based system where you can contribute a ‘card’ and which must have a single sentence Subject (tweet length) and a body which can be plain text paragraph, a whole document or a link to a blog post/web page.
These cards can the be re-organised by anyone. You have your own view/organisation but you can choose to see how anyone else has done it, or even ‘lock’ your view to someone else who then becomes your editor.
The cards come in two types: Headings and Body. The Headings cards is where you pin your body cards. This is much like Trello. The Headings cards are only one sentence and one ‘level’.
The Body cards are three lines deep in default view, to show the Subject, and can easily accordion out to show the full body text or URL.
-— and this is when I realised we should use Trello, and set that up — https://trello.com/b/wuOfqh7Q/doug-50 —
It’s clear that Trello is a good start, but just a start.
We need a way where people can contribute to describing how they see a situation, in a way that is easily understandable at a skim – including how issues connect – but which also allows for deep discussion.
So back to the thinking board.
My feeling that thinking in terms of cards rather than plain text seems to make the most sense, so let’s stick with that. Anyone with permission can make a card and the card has a field for basic text, plus further explanation and URL. The user can connect the card with any other cards (by dragging onto the other cards, most likely), and will then have to choose a type of connection and a direction. The user can also re-arrange the cards at will and choose to see anyone else’s order, which the stack will dynamically, and quickly, change into, to compare perspectives.
So let’s go back to the premise, the premise is to help people get in accord, and we are suggesting here that the ability to expand and contract, to layout differently and to discuss what is seen, is an important aspect of getting into accord, at least to the point of better understanding other perspectives, even if you don’t necessarily jump across the divide and change your mind.
Immediate Design Challenges
How much should be shown vertically, how much horizontally? How important is it to be able to spread out from the linear column into a free space, versus a set of columns (left, main and right) vs. Trello’s multiple columns? Freedom in design is important, but unless your main function is to design layouts, too much freedom can quickly contribute to messy design, making it hard for the user and other users to see order.
My feeling is that we should build a system with one central column of re-arrangeable invisible ‘cards’ which users can re-arrange and use the column space on the sides for cuttings which the user is not using currently and for controls as to what is visible.
But what about all the commercial apps?
There are many commercial apps and websites for dialog, collaboration and thinking, such as Trello, Slack, Google Docs and so on, but we are trying to think past what can be done now and provide an infrastructure for open-innovation, meaning that the API’s for adding and extracting data, will be open for others to add to.
Elements of Dialog
The elements we need to design into the system include:
• URLs & Citations for further information/expansion
• Supportive comments
• Disagreeing comments
• Additional information comments
• Other perspective comments
Meta-Information which should be included:
• Author ID
• Commenter ID
• Time and Date Added/Edited
• Location Added/Edited
The user should be able to:
• Expand and contract (accordion):
We are all working on how to figure out what to invent and how to show a great demo on the 50th anniversary of Doug’s Mother of All Demos. This should be our example project which we should design for.
For this project there will be topics, such as:
• What to Augment
• Technical Considerations
• Interactions to Support
• The Day itself
And so on. Each one of these will need discussion, assignments to who will do what and resolutions as to what is decided.