Fine-tuned think-tools

If a think tool is supposed to help with the very early stage of arranging one’s thoughts and notes, there are very subtle effects becoming very relevant.

Consider the typical scenario: An unstructured collection of thoughts and notes (text snippets), and some vague connections or associations between them. Ideally (for me),

  • the text snippets would be like the cards of the wellknown card-sorting process, all on a huge table,
  • but at the same time they should be connectable by magic rubber bands, like the graphical objects on a visualizer screen.

Unfortunately, no application offers the large table experience without distracting zooming operations, and such magic rubber bands are not available in the real world.

So we usually content ourselves with graphical representatives/ stand-in‘s of the text snippets. The visualization of the connections in context is done by the graphical symbols. And if we want to read the text we “only” need to doubleclick on such a symbol and text window appears.

If the text does not have to appear but somehow seems to be already there, or if there is no action needed for viewing but merely pointing at the item, this sounds like a neglectable, irrelevant detail. But in fact, it makes a big difference. Probably I would not believe it if I had not tested it (in DeepaMehta whose alpha state has so often frustrated me, but this aspect makes it almost addictive).

A possible explanation for this subtle effect is that, perhaps, the technical connection between the graphical stand-in and the textual thought being represented, interferes somehow with the topical connections being thought about. In DeepaMehta, there is a large topic map on the left, and a text pane on the right showing the text of the selected topic. This interface generates a strong impression of immediacy and transparency in manipulating/ gripping/ grasping the topic items.

So I continued experimenting, and I will report about it in the next posting.

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