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Tinderbox Users >> Tinderbox applications >> Using Tinderbox as a whiteboard

Message started by Andrew Saffer on Nov 11th, 2009, 8:15pm

Title: Using Tinderbox as a whiteboard
Post by Andrew Saffer on Nov 11th, 2009, 8:15pm

I am running a brainstorming session at a conference next week, and it seems that Map View of Tinderbox might be a great way to document the input of the group.

I am planning to open the Map View on the 'second monitor' (in reality it'll be a projector).

If there's anyone in the Tinderbox community who has had experience doing this, please let me know your hacks and tips so it's a smooth and unencumbering undertaking.

Thanks so much, Andrew

Title: Re: Using Tinderbox as a whiteboard
Post by Andrew Saffer on Nov 11th, 2009, 8:18pm

Especially how to make the experience 'minimalist' for the end-user. It's my business which prototype I use, not theirs.

Title: Re: Using Tinderbox as a whiteboard
Post by Mark Anderson on Nov 12th, 2009, 5:36am

The more open-ended the discussion, the harder is can be to predict structures and themes needed but you may consider some things as part of planning:
  • Practice/review using the map UI. How do you add an adornment? How do you change shape/colour/etc.?
  • Set up your file with the basics beforehand: prototypes, stamps, the notes/containers that will act as your maps - cut down the set-up time on the day. It doesn't mean you must decide everything in advance, but rather that you do sort out things you can decide; even then you can leave things to one side if the session takes a different path.
  • Decide if you'll use containers or keep everything on the one level - limiting you (during the session but not after it) to just adornments and notes. If not, make sure you understand what you can usefully do with container viewports. If remaining at one map level consider having more than one map (even if they can't all be displayed at once)
  • Stamps. Set up stamps for tasks you can't easily do via a menu - e.g. change shape, colours and shadow all at once.
  • Adornments. If you already know some clear topics or area of notes, then make adornments for those and customise as necessary.
  • Picture Adornments. Some like these, some don't. Whatever, if using them ensure you know how to make them on the fly during the session.
  • Adornments as map dividers. If you want dividers, consider setting up a few stamps to make dividers (set one of $Width or $Height to '0' and the other to the dividers length), e.g. vertical bar stamps for 10, 20 and 40 map units plus the same for horizontal.
  • Prototypes. As it's map use consider setting attributes like $Color/$Color2, border types, patterns, fills, shape, shadow (colour and distance). You can consider stamps as an alternate to prototypes if the main aim is setting a map look rather than worrying about issues of inheritance. Things like key attributes are of less use in-meeting unless you're going to open notes. Consider using $DisplayExpression - e.g. useful is allowing containers so as to show things like the child count.
  • If only using $Name in your notes (i.e. not using/showing $Text), look at the TBX's Map Preferences (Cmd+8) and specifically 'If note name is too large'. Consider altering it from the default of do-nothing' so notes re-size to accommodate your text.
  • If you've set up prototypes, stamps etc., do try them out and check they work as intended.
All the above can be done on the fly (if you know how) but the more that's one or two clicks away, the less the mechanics of making things happen with be seen by your audience.

If the session will have a review part, then you can also consider:
  • User attributes. You might want some for capturing aspects of the emergent topics. Consider Set-type attributes for tagging (i.e. a multi-value attribute).
  • Smart Adornments. These might, for instance convert visual settings to user attribute values for analysis with agents. Important - note that smart attributes move matching items - if this destroys a map whose visual layout is important, use agents instead.
  • Agents. These don't have to be on the map - unless you want to use them for container plots.
  • Note progress bar patterns, container plots and table displays can all helps display summaries.  These are probably more use if you've some idea of the possible outcome as unless you're used to these features doing the analysis and setting up everything as you go may be taxing (the first few times).
Lastly, a map UI tip. If you hit Return with nothing selected, a new note is created to the right of the last added (not last selected) note or adornment. If something is selected when you hit return, the notes is added next to the selected item. Thus, it you're adding a note is a different part of the map to the last addition, if the new location has a note (or adornment) select that before adding the new note and it will get made in the right location. Nothing in the new location? Either make the new note and drag it where desired or right-click in the desired place and use he Create Note dialog.

Good luck with your whiteboarding!

Title: Re: Using Tinderbox as a whiteboard
Post by Mark Bernstein on Nov 12th, 2009, 10:21am

I often find it helpful to think, in advance, of the key dimensions of the brainstorming session.  This lets you set up a simple visual language in advance, and also organizes your thinking as moderator.  

For example: suppose we have a team of (say) eight people, and we're brainstorming who is going to be responsible for which tasks next month.  We're going to sort through LOTS of tasks -- maybe a hundred.  We'll use Width and Height to give a hint about their size.  We'll use a red border to indicate tasks that *must* be finished.  And we'll start with a set of adornments, each representing one team member, to represent task assignments.

Notice that this is very simple -- you probably don't even need to explain it!  Just put it on the screen, start with a few things that everyone will recognize are tasks to be done, and open the floor.

Title: Re: Using Tinderbox as a whiteboard
Post by Stacey Mason on Nov 12th, 2009, 10:57am

I would definitely recommend setting up the prototypes you think you'll need beforehand (as Mark A. mentioned).  It may also be helpful to make a quick prototype legend by moving all the prototypes onto a "legend" adornment, that way if the shapes, colors, borders, etc don't speak for themselves immediately, you don't have to spend a lot of unnecessary time explaining them.

Also, I would set up your colors beforehand (and make stamps, as Mark also said), making sure the color palette is suited to the task, but that's really a personal design preference. I like my note/adornment/background colors to reflect the project I'm doing.

Title: Re: Using Tinderbox as a whiteboard
Post by Andrew Saffer on Nov 27th, 2009, 12:35am

I just came back from the conference, and used Tinderbox for a whiteboard in one of the sessions. These suggestions really made a difference. The Tinderbox Forum is such a wonderfully supportive group. Thanks so much, Andrew

Title: Re: Using Tinderbox as a whiteboard
Post by Mark Bernstein on Nov 27th, 2009, 11:55am


At Tinderbox Weekend SF, we talked a bit about an interesting and important Tinderbox whiteboard task from Canadian Judge Tom Smith.

Judge Smith has been using Tinderbox, with the agreement of both parties, in child custody cases.  He uses Tinderbox to lead "an issue based hearing where we focus on the children and on problem solving."

So far every child custody case that I have conducted this way settled once we got to dealing with the best interests tests such as the child’s special medical or emotional needs, the child’s wishes, and so forth... The parents, during these issue based hearings, have focused on the children and problem solving rather than, as is typical in many of these cases, finger pointing.

This recalls something Robert Brook addressed in talking about uses of Tinderbox in Parliamentat Tinderbox Weekend London last year: that the Tinderbox map provides an effective way to represent disagreement.

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