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Message started by Amafortas on Dec 23rd, 2009, 4:53pm

Title: Knowledge Repository
Post by Amafortas on Dec 23rd, 2009, 4:53pm

Hello all,

I wonder if anyone has thoughts about how to leverage the power and flexibility of Tinderbox 5 to create a knowledge repository. I am a University lecturer, so I have quite a few notes.

I had been creating separate files for each major project, but I now have data scattered everywhere. (I realize I will need to do the work to pull these files together and that this organization is not a fault of Tinderbox but of my own imagination.)  The problem is that I need to check several places to discover where my notes on a particular novel, for instance, are located. This is quickly growing unwieldily.

What I'd like to do is to organize all my files in a master Tinderbox document and then create links, perhaps aliases?, to Tinderbox documents for a specific course.

I realize I can do some of this quite easily, but the map view, which I find most useful soon becomes difficult to navigate--especially if I create hierarchies of notes. For example, if I have English 203-->Notes--> Beloved-->Writing Prompts--> Discussion Board, the discussion board prompts are buried, in the map--they work just fine in the outline view. However, using Tinderbox as only an outliner seems extremely silly.

What I'd like to have is a way of using the outline and the map together to navigate hierarchically structured notes. I would appreciate thoughts and perhaps an example or two.



Title: Re: Knowledge Repository
Post by Roger C. Eddy on Dec 23rd, 2009, 5:44pm

I use Tinderbox to follow my right brain activity as I study the problem of medical error.
I have one big outline called "A Remedy for Errors"
I have collections of critical incidents in three sections: stories, narratives with discussion, and Complex Context Critical Incident Reports.
These sections use different prototypes and can be marked as finished and ready for distribution (written, net, professional audience only etc.) Sub-collections of these are used in seminars, or keynote presentations kept outside of Tinderbox and more polished and proof-read. TBX is used to get things down quickly, and go back to for reference.
Organized teaching stuff goes into Circus Ponies Notebook. BookEnds is used for bibliography.
Rough drafts are done in Scrivener.

But the big file in Tinderbox also has Sandbox (for experimenting)

Essential concepts, definitions and glossary again different prototypes.
I am trying to collect in a knowledge base concepts that are NECESSARY to understand human error. This is a separate section of the main file, organized by discipline.
I also have sections by discipline because this is an interdisciplinary problem.
When ever I have an idea I try to stick it in an existing category and if it won't fit I create a new category. Some just go into a container ideas until they can be elaborated.

Besides the interdisciplinary problem of no real common language (like between engineering and psychoanalysis for example) there is the problem that I work in two places, am a clinician and teacher, not a researcher and find this task frequently fragmented. Tinderbox helps hold it together but also I do get the idea of "emerging structure" and have found several plain English, non-technical links between events.  So far keywords are used but as the links in TBX are developed further I expect them to be helpful.

As I work with this material sporadically I wish it did not require so much technical knowledge. By the time I learn a simple procedure I tend to forget how I did it - but there is an age factor there too.

Good luck with your project. If you need samples I would be willing to e-mail to your address but the large file has private data not for general publication here.

Roger Coe Eddy MD Clinical Professor Emeritus, Univ. of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle

Title: Re: Knowledge Repository
Post by Amafortas on Dec 23rd, 2009, 8:51pm


Thanks for sharing some of your process with me.

I do have a few questions when you have a moment:

1) You create one big Tinderbox document with subcatagoires as appropriate?

2) You keep more polished information in other programs. Keynote makes sense, but could you elaborate on why you use Notebook? (I ask because I started doing this work in notebook but found the interface (tabs and so on) too limiting to create the sort of cross-indexing I was hoping for.)

3) Just as a matter of clarification, do you include your own thoughts in the Tinderbox document or just summaries/snippets from text?



Title: Re: Knowledge Repository
Post by Stacey Mason on Dec 24th, 2009, 11:45am

There are a couple of options here that might be useful.

1: If you're having problems with things being tucked away in the map, you can try creating pseudo-hierarchy on the outline with separators. This way it's easier to keep things on the same level, and everything is visible on the map. You can then use adornments to visually separate.

2: If you're going for more of the detailed outline approach, you could have a "Map" container on the outline and fill it with aliases of the information you want to map.

The important questions to ask yourself are:
What do you want tucked away from immediate view on the map? What do you want to see in the same space?
Will linking be sufficient to connect notes, or do you want to see them in the same space?
How detailed do you want your outline to be?

For something like the first approach, I've created a sample TBX outline and map:

The top level outline with nothing expanded looks like this:

I made prototypes of the main types of notes you have so that you don't have to put in hierarchies to express them.  You don't need the badges, but I put them in to make it easier to see the types in these images.

Once expanded, the outline for English 101 looks like this:

You can see the different types of notes easily. By using these prototypes and the separators to avoid more hierarchy than I need, I'm able to more or less keep the notes on the same level. This means I can see them all on the same map view.

If we take a look at this in map view, we get our top level:

In this map, I wanted to be sure the two courses are separate, but linkable. You can see how their notes are hidden away from each other here. I could also put them all on one huge map and use adornments to visually separate them.

And the map of English 101:

I've made adornments to separate the units, but they are still linkable and in the same map.

If you wanted to take the second approach instead, having a more detailed hierarchical outline, you could have your outline however you want, then create a "map" container, then a "map of English 101 container" as a child of "map" and then have your aliases structured similar to my example.

This is the approach I use to organize my conference notes (the first idea) . I'm sure you can come up with other creative ways to incorporate the maps and outlines; these are just what I use.

Title: Re: Knowledge Repository
Post by Amafortas on Dec 24th, 2009, 11:55am


Thanks for the very detailed response.

Unfortunately, I can't see the images you posted.



Title: Re: Knowledge Repository
Post by Stacey Mason on Dec 24th, 2009, 12:06pm

should be fixed now

Title: Re: Knowledge Repository
Post by Roger C. Eddy on Dec 24th, 2009, 12:27pm

Concerning questions 1 and 3.

The big tinderbox document reflects my overall conception of a project I have been working on for six years now. It started as a book but by the time a draft was completed it was out of date. I am a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst in private practice but with a lot of experience in consultation, teaching and applied social science. Forty years ago that would be community psychiatry. Now days community psychiatry is underfunded prescription writing for the homeless.

I wanted to work in something to replace that interest and teamed up with a retired political science professor and a behavioral scientist/community administration person. They had been at an impasse on the results of a study of pharmacists. We all helped each other and found there were two basic problems that crossed all disciplinary boundaries.

Why do highly intelligent people keep repeating the same mistake over and over despite apparently adequate information?

Why do organizations hire consultants but fail to put into action changes that they agree are needed?

In very broad terms in both areas this would be labelled "resistance" but the users would mean and describe different things.

Tinderbox came along in my work about two years ago and I started the big file as a way of keeping track of my own ideas and writing, saving teaching aids (usually graphics, sometimes pages documents 3  to 10 pages with graphics and endnotes (I use the pages "report" template altered). Collected "data" are in narrative descriptions and critical incidents. These have keywords and associated references. (Eventually may try to automate transfer (export) to Circus Ponies Notebook. Now do it manually. And the final structure of these is not yet set.)
I also have in the big TBX file output containers, for example chapters of the old book are now sections where new information: my thoughts, clips from the net, references, and all be stuck or there can be aliases to things that live elsewhere but I think are relevant to that section. Other "output" containers are for "blurbs" potential brief notes like for a blog (don't have one yet) that cover a brief topic, and "essays" which are usually on one topic, e.g. "Access", "Availability" "organizational immunity". These have footnotes or endnotes and also link to "essential concepts" and "Knowledge Base" sections.

Disadvantages: this is a grand conceptual disorganized mess. Subcategories and notes are not always appropriate but things can be changed, and have been, where a data base would lock me in. Things can go to NoteBook when I know their relatively permanent structure.

Advantages: I don't have to sort thru piles of papers and handwritten notes to find stuff from a year ago I "know I have somewhere".  My bibliography is much better organized. Keywords for searching are in the process of being better organized across TBX, NoteBook and BookEnds. I can usefully use "chunks" out of the grand plan is lectures and consultations and change their structure or the graphics or the references in response to group reactions.
IMPORTANT: The whole structure of the overall project is to address the error problem at the "sharp end". One size does not fit all. Many projects fail because of top down design. We are trying to create tools that individuals or teams can use at the "front line". Count on it, the health care reform is going to kill people as  "projects" are forced upon the people doing the actual work without any serious study of what they actually "do" or what "resistances they may have to changing what they do.

Thanks Stacy for your map comments that give me some ideas!!!

Title: Re: Knowledge Repository
Post by Amafortas on Dec 27th, 2009, 8:04pm


I've been studying your map and your suggestions. They are wonderful.

If you have a moment, could you talk about what you do when you teach the same class in subsequent quarters / semesters? Do you copy your ideas into a new space or just revise your previous ideas?

Also, do you do any work with online resources? Perhaps a page on paradise lost? If so, how do you handle these references?



Title: Re: Knowledge Repository
Post by Jean Goodwin on Dec 29th, 2009, 9:39am

Hi, A:  There's a discussion on the wiki, I think, about whether we should use Tinderbox centripetally or centrifugally.  My personal pattern is to put as much as possible in one document, but then to leverage Tinderbox's ability to have multiple windows open.  The One Big Document doesn't have a consistent organizational scheme--I'm not using TBX as an outliner.  It has some regions (e.g., a single course) which I tend to view as maps, others which are meant for Explorer, others as outlines...  And then I use searches and moving containers and links and aliases (whatever is easiest at the moment) to connect stuff in another region with the region I'm working with.

You get the idea.  It's a complex mess, and therefore a good representation of my "knowledge."

I've really enjoyed course development using TBX.  The first time or two I teach (or overhaul) a course, I tend to just archive all the notes from the previous semester and start all over again.  But once I've taught something enough for it to have stabilized into predictable units, I tend to keep last time's notes & organization, and just modify it incrementally.

Good luck!--Jean

Title: Re: Knowledge Repository
Post by Amafortas on Dec 29th, 2009, 1:41pm


You make an excellent point about Tinderbox's ability to present information in several different ways.

If I might, I'd like to ask a follow-up question: do you store things like essay prompts, quiz questions, and lecture notes in Tinderbox, or do you develop them in a separate program and then link the files?



Title: Re: Knowledge Repository
Post by Jean Goodwin on Dec 29th, 2009, 5:08pm

With two exceptions, everything's in Tinderbox:  course goals, course content notes, lists of readings, stray ideas for next time, questions for discussion or essays, examples scavenged from various sources including student work, notes about powerpoint color schemes....  For me, the whole point is to "write it down!" so I can (quickly) scan everything & consider whether it's useful.  I'm lazy:  if it's somewhere else, even if it's linked it might as well not exist.  

One exception:  I've developed a fairly elaborate tinderbox set-up to organize & track 50+ student groups through a four stage final project process.  It had so many unique attributes/agents that I spun it off to avoid interference with the rest of the teaching materials.

The other exception:  multiple choice quiz questions.  In a larger class, I get so much data connected with these that thus far it's taken too much thought to get them into Tinderbox.  MarkA offered to help, though, so maybe Quiz Banks is a topic we could take up on another thread.

Title: Re: Knowledge Repository
Post by Stacey Mason on Dec 31st, 2009, 1:50pm


Just for clarification, I'm not personally a teacher; I'm an Eastgater but I do a lot with hypertext tools and teaching.

If you were going to teach the same class, as Jean mentioned, it might be a good idea to rework things until you get comfortable with the material.  From there, you have the option of creating copies of the original notes from earlier semesters (you could do this efficiently by making the originals into prototypes)if you don't want to change your original notes or making aliases if you want the originals to reflect changes you make to this semester's notes.

(see discussion on the Quiz Banks thread:http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/forum//YaBB.pl?num=1262127096)

As for linking to Web material, Jean makes a good point about having material accessible. The key here is to know thyself.  I like having as much of the information in my Tinderbox document as possible, because it's more easily searchable and that extra step to go from Tinderbox to a browser is a huge barrier for me.

I might make a prototype for reference materials, include metadata as key attributes (including the source url) and copy/paste the pertinent text into the body of a note (or several notes).

Title: Re: Knowledge Repository
Post by Stacey Mason on Dec 31st, 2009, 1:54pm

Another thing that I forgot to mention in my first post was that fonts on the outline can also have a big impact for organization.  Sometimes you want things on the same level, but want one item to have a little more POW! on your outline.  I use more prominent fonts for these items.  (notice the size difference between the courses and the prototypes even though they're on the same level)

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