Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Technography and the Dynamic Outline

Author:Bernie DeKoven
Posted:3/21/1999; 12:06:07 PM
Topic:Technography and the Dynamic Outline
Msg #:4361
Prev/Next:4360 / 4362

Dynamic vs. Static Outlines Before the outliner really becomes a useful tool for supporting any kind of thinking process -- individual or group, brainstorming or planning -- I have to help people break away from the unfortunately well-founded notion that what they are building is a hierarchy. This is not easy, especially because that's exactly what an outline is, and exactly what it looks like: a static hierarchy of things in a particular order within a particular organization. But a fixed, static hierarchy is exactly the opposite of what people need to build new ideas and visions. So I use "tricks" to break that assumption, especially when people are first using technography. For example, I put new items on top of the list or in the middle, rather than at the bottom. So that people don't assume that things are in a particular order. And when people say things that seem irrelevant, I create a category that I call "seemingly irrelevant things" or, in cases of extreme sobriety "temporary" And after the brainstorm drizzles out, and we CONNECT stuff into a variety of categories, I might make a new category for the rest of the stuff called "uncategorized" or "things to categorize whenever we can get around to it" The art of the technographer then is to keep the outline fluid, dynamic, so that the hierarchy is always a working organization, always a tool and never an object in itself. It's this image, of the dynamic outline that is key to understanding the power of technography and the value of the outliner as a tool for facilitating collaboration. And perhaps this vision that can guide us away from discussions of whiteboards and relational databases, and towards a more expansive consideration of how we can use the dynamics of dynamic outlines to support collaboration, on-line, off-line, face-to-face, place-to-place.

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