[deepamehta-devel] DeepaMehta Anwendungsfälle

Matthias Melcher matthias.melcher at urz.uni-heidelberg.de
Do Mär 8 11:30:41 CET 2012

Hi Torsten,
thanks for pointing to the weaknesses of my explanation.
I am inserting my clarifications below.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen/ Kind regards
Matthias Melcher
Abteilung Anwendungen

Tel. (06221) 54 45 23, Fax (06221) 54 55 81
matthias.melcher at urz.uni-heidelberg.de

Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Universitätsrechenzentrum (URZ)
Im Neuenheimer Feld 293, 69120 Heidelberg

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Torsten Ziegler" <torsten at ziegi.de>
To: <deepamehta-devel at lists.berlios.de>
Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2012 9:16 PM
Subject: Re: [deepamehta-devel] DeepaMehta Anwendungsfälle

> Hi Matthias,
> thanks a lot for your fast answer.
> I guess you are right, after two years I still get not the full meaning
> of Deepamehta. And so I am comparing it to what i know.
> What you describe with:
>> The old desktop paradigm concept of "Opening" becomes obsolete
>> because when you click at a topic *it is already open* in
>> the detail pane
> I do not really understand this, as this is the standard behavior of
> any link in the WWW world.

It seems to be surprising or unbelievable that such a simple
functionality as the one I loved with DM2, is nowhere available,
but I haven't found any so far.

> I click an object (a link) and its inner details get revealed more ore less
> instantaneously.

"more or less instantaneously" makes a BIG difference. I think
approx. > 1/4 second is already too long because it triggers
something like POST and WAIT operations (from old mainframe
assembler language) in the brain: You switch into a mode that
means waiting (in a broader sense).

> The only difference is that Deepamehta reveals the
> details while the original context is still visible on the map pane.
> I can mimic this with an ordinary webpage by opening a link in a new
> browser window side by side with the old one.

In most cases this would, however, destroy what Cziksentmihalyi
calls "flow": Popping up new windows into my view, disrupts my
context and robs me of the sense of being in control. That's the
charme of "coordinated views" which are deployed since long
in the traditional email clients who offer a list view above a preview
pane, and as soon as I clicked on the list view on your email it was
visible in the preview. (After I DOUBLE-clicked it, there was
also a disrupting new window but that's ok once I decide to engage
more thoroughly with it. This is IMHO a NEW task, and a different
stage in the workflow loop that gradually and subtly shifts focus from
looking at, and understanding, to reflecting, to initial ideas for
reacting, authoring new sentences, revising and rearranging them,
and finally editing and saving or sending them.) The trick is to
have the detail located in always the same place.

For text-only material, and for non-visual, verbally oriented people,
the world is already perfect, but I have never seen a visual application
that offers this coordinated views between visual overview and
verbal detail. Some are coming close to this goal already, e.g.
some mindmaps offer now a "notes" pane, but they are not usable
unless you accept the stubborn tree structure where cross-links
and floating nodes are optical underdogs. Flexible Cmaps, however,
don't have this feature yet.

I realize that it this great "unique selling point" ("Alleinstellungsmerkmal")
of DM2 sounded so simple that it was hard to believe that it is not yet
available, but I suspect it is due to the mostly linear, non-spatual or
nonvisual orientation of programmers that it has been overseen.

> I think in both cases a document or topic gets opened and details are
> revealed that are not visible before this user interaction with the mouse.
> This is what I do right now with my map pane being a wiki page and my
> detail pane being a second web browser window. I also have the context
> and the details side by side, only in Deepamehta I have better
> possibilities
> to graphically arrange the context on the map.
> But I guess there is something I miss here ??

No, "graphically" is exactly the crucial point in a thinking stage
where the topics in my mind are NOT YET to be arranged
in hierarchical relationships (no premature pigeonholing) and
when I want to offload this working-memory burden to
the "outboard brain" of a DM map.

> Your second point is very interesting to me
>> DM topics *can be* snippets themselves. So you are right
>> in (6th part) that text needs to be broken down
> If I get this right this would imply that there is no need for
> a detail pane or for a document to be opened. All information
> should be already visible (or possible to be revealed) on the
> context map itself.

No, no! On the map, real-estate is immensely precious,
and if it contains more than labels ("handles" for mind) then
the amout of context is too much limited

> This would also imply that each topic is possibly a topicmap
> itself, e.g. the "person" topic type should not present its details
> in the right pane in a pre structured way but reveal a new
> context map with name, address and whatsoever arrangeable
> by the user (or in Deepamehta philosphy in the beginning
> with nothing revealed at all).
> The detail pane (right on in Deepamehta) would then really
> be a mouse gazing into the deeper level topicmap of the topic
> I am interested in, possibly leading to some kind of atomic object
> that is presented by itself on the last, deepest level of topicmaps.

The idea of nested maps is, at first sight, attractive, and projects
by DeepaMehta friends (or at least people connected to DM
within the Denkwerkzeug series of workshop) tried just this:
In iMapping, you expand an collapse nested contexts. But
each zooming needs a tradeoff decision to put up with disruptive
pane rearrangement, or to sacrifice real-estate.

So I think the 1 overview pane, 1 detail pane, design, is the
stable fundament how to frame each work context. THAT
there is 1 single distinction between overview and detail, is
IMHO an acceptable restriction.

WHAT counts as detail, however, and what appears in the
overview, is a matter of the topic content matter. Whether
something should be presented "in a prestructured way" or not,
depend IMHO on whether this prestructuring suggets that
I won't need to think about alternate, creative, nonhierarchical
associations later, but just look up deeper details. As soon
as an entity needs a separate connector line to another
entity, it should be a topic.

Typically, therefore, text snippets (like the paragraphs in
you email) cannot be judged previously if they might need
to be individually addressed (= associated on the map).
I don't know what would be appropriate for your example
of a person. If I never need to tap into the lower levels
of a nested prestructure, I would go with the old "property"
logic and combine fields into one topic. If, by contrast,
they lend themselves for individual addressing/ associations,
they should be separate topics.

Of course there are sometimes compromises needed if
I don't want to split or combine topics into/ from two.
In a text snippet, I often proceed according to the following
pattern: The primary "handle" to address the topic on the map,
would be a short phrase making up the topic title. If it
turns out that there is another phrase that connects to a
different topics, I fake a hyperlink anchor by simply underlining
that phrase. If, however, more than two or three different
"anchors" would be needed, it pays off to do the labor and
create individual topics.

> Am I right so far ???
> this would really be an amazing concept that rises a lot of
> questions regarding the organization of "broken down text"
> and snippets on a context map.
> BTW: I really like your Cmap Tools picture. This is what I would
> call information on the context pane whereas Deepamehta
> right now only shows topics and titles that have to be opened
> in the detail pane. Also I like to have arrows and annotations
> on the associations something I am missing since I got
> Deepamehta2 to know.

I DON'T like the Cmap workaround and would have loved to
have your paragraph texts in a detail pane accessible via the
"concept" icons. Furthermore, they waste real-estate, and their
*insistence* on labeled links, is annoying (you need to press
Shift, but not too early, while draggimng the link, if you want
no label).

> Yours,
> Torsten

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