New iBook G4

Folks who know me best know that, while I like to keep track of cutting-edge trends, I myself am the classic late adopter. Part of it is practicality — if it works, why replace it? Part of it is excessive sentimentality. Up until a few years ago, I was still using a wallet my parents had given to me in elementary school!    (1JC)

For the past seven years, my laptop of choice was a Toshiba Satellite Pro 425. I had upgraded the memory twice and the hard disk once, and it ran Windows 95 and Linux. About a year ago, I started having hard disk trouble. That, combined with my desire to run Compendium and to have wireless access compelled me to finally replace the machine… a year later.    (1JD)

A few weeks ago, I purchased an iBook G4. Reasons for going Mac:    (1JE)

  • I wanted a machine that ran Mac O S X. There are a lot of interesting applications that run only on Mac O S X, especially those in the collaboration space, such as SubEthaEdit. Mac O S X also is based on FreeBSD. I can run most of the UNIX applications I use regularly while also having access to Mac O S apps.    (1JF)
  • These Apple notebooks are simply beautiful. I’ve been enamored with the form factor and ergonomics of these machines ever since they first came out, and I haven’t been disappointed.    (1JG)

The alternative was an IBM Thinkpad X series notebook. I also think those are beautiful machines, and they have features that I really miss — thumbpad mouse, two (!) mouse buttons, etc. Plus, as much as I’m enjoying the Mac O S UI, there are still quirks I haven’t gotten used to. For example, Command-Tab doesn’t work exactly as I would like; I haven’t figured out how to cycle through windows as opposed to apps (although I’ve quickly learned that F9 is my friend).    (1JH)

Nevertheless, I am very, very happy with my purchase. I’m also enjoying the new mobility and flexibility that the small form factor and built-in wireless affords me.    (1JI)

Dialog Mapping Use Cases

The Compendium Dialogue Mapping tool came up in conversation on the Collaboration Collaboratory. In the course of the discussion, I explained that I use Compendium for three purposes:    (XW)

  • Personal note-taking.    (XX)
  • Taking shared notes during meetings.    (XY)
  • Facilitating face-to-face group meetings.    (XZ)

John Sechrest asked in response:    (Y0)

I have a client come in. We talk about what? And that causes what to show up on the compendium screen?    (Y1)

Specifically, what is the social process that compendium is facilitating?    (Y2)

And how is that different than just writing an outline in an editor?    (Y3)

I mean different things by taking notes on a Shared Display versus facilitating group meetings, so I’ll treat them separately in answering John’s questions.    (Y4)

There are three advantages to taking shared notes real-time. First, you know that a record is being kept of the meeting, which is reassuring. Second, you know that the notes are immediately available. Third, you have the chance to validate the notes as they are being taken.    (Y5)

Taking notes on a Shared Display is a great pattern, regardless of the tool you use. In fact, using a Wiki or a program like SubEthaEdit instead of Compendium may be more valuable in some ways because the note-taking can be collective. When I use Compendium to do this, only I can edit the notes.    (Y6)

The advantage that Compendium has over these other tools is the graphical IBIS grammar. IBIS (which can be expressed as a text outline) is slightly more semantically rigorous and slightly more compact than an outline. Graphical IBIS is superior to a textual outline, because the second dimension serves an additional reference for finding what you’re looking for.    (Y7)

Another advantage of the IBIS grammar is that it encourages, even forces participants to consider the underlying questions (a precursor to the Left-Hand Move pattern). This really comes through in facilitated meetings (with facilitators who are trained in Dialogue Mapping).    (Y8)

The most important thing Dialogue Mapping does in a facilitation context is depoliticize discussion. Dialogue Mapping focuses attention on ideas rather than on people by making sure that all ideas are captured and captured anonymously.    (Y9)

Jeff Conklin, the man responsible for graphical IBIS and Dialogue Mapping, has written a book on Dialogue Mapping that does a great job of explaining how it’s best used as well as the underlying theory. I’m not sure if the book is available yet, but I’ll check. In the meantime, I highly recommend Jeff’s Dialog Mapping workshops. I wrote an article a few years back describing one of these workshops.    (YA)