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Old 02-20-2006, 10:25 AM   #1
George
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Long before I owned a computer, I used to try to discern the literary formats of ancient documents, and I would cut out blocks of thought units and tape them all over the wall of a spare room. It was a different way of thinking about how thought can be represented on paper. Actually, some of the designs could be extremely elaborate and ornate, and so beautiful, seeming like works of genius (ancients used parallel thought units, rather than paragraphs, or sentences as we know them). However, they reminded me somewhat of Gabriele Luser Rico's book Writing the Natural Way: Using Right Brain Techniques to Release Your Expressive Powers. Rico's method of initially creating associated thinking on a subject as a way of finding content and structure for a composition is also a different way of setting out thought units on paper, that has certain parallels to ancient writing, and that conforms more naturally to how the mind really works, which is why the technique is so successful.

People say that with the advent of computer monitors new font designs have become a part of our life. But how about the monitor screen as initiating new formats of arranging and representing thought? After five years, I am finishing research for an article I would like to write which normally would be extremely long and very complex. However, my objective is to take a reader with an average education directly to the most significant pieces of evidence, rendering concise lines of argument and content summaries to crucial yet still less significant positions. People don't have time to read, even if subjects are made easy, no matter how much the topic may affect their lives or involve great issues of injustice.

So, I was sitting at the dining room table (why do I have those desks??) wondering how to put everything on paper, or I mean on the monitor. I know I have a unique opportunity for presenting my position as it will appear on a computer monitor, which is a different way to perceive a line of thought. But how do I most effectively lay out on a monitor the killer pieces of evidence to take a reader directly to their dramatic impact, and have them all framed with the compact but crucial arguments and summaries?? I just don't think that conventional literary formats can accomplish my objectives, because I am trying to reduce very complex thought units to extremely small spaces.

And then, it occurred to me -- I used to tape thought units on the wall where my library is. Hmm-- but where might one find new ways of structuring and presenting thought suited for a monotor screen??

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George
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Old 02-21-2006, 03:18 PM   #2
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Very interesting...have to think on it a bit...

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Old 02-21-2006, 04:23 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George
Long before I owned a computer, I used to try to discern the literary formats of ancient documents, and I would cut out blocks of thought units and tape them all over the wall of a spare room. It was a different way of thinking about how thought can be represented on paper. Actually, some of the designs could be extremely elaborate and ornate, and so beautiful, seeming like works of genius (ancients used parallel thought units, rather than paragraphs, or sentences as we know them).… but where might one find new ways of structuring and presenting thought suited for a monotor screen??
I’m not sure, but isn’t the web itself a new way of structuring and presenting thought?

Is there some reason you want ideas arranged, sticky-note fashion, all visible at once? Seems a bit foolhardy, as some people have small displays (some very, very small displays). The use of links to propel people from one thought (or thought fragment) to another seems exactly like what you need.

But maybe I haven’t read carefully enough.

   
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Old 02-21-2006, 11:41 PM   #4
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We used to draw a 'mind map' on a whiteboard and this seemed a good way. Linking from a central concept in several directions as ideas are contributed.

Perhaps on the web a Blog is what you want.

On my Goring website (not currently very up-to-date) I used to insert items of local news and comments as the arose, with photos. A sort of community Blog I guess.

   
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Old 02-22-2006, 05:41 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel
I’m not sure, but isn’t the web itself a new way of structuring and presenting thought?

Is there some reason you want ideas arranged, sticky-note fashion, all visible at once? Seems a bit foolhardy, as some people have small displays (some very, very small displays). The use of links to propel people from one thought (or thought fragment) to another seems exactly like what you need.

But maybe I haven’t read carefully enough.
Say I have 20 colonial documents that within their content establish a point on the origin of American law. The evidence is dramatic and overwhelming, but who is going to read that much to find out if I've made my point?? And the amount of space taken up is going to create the wrong impression on the weight of the point being made to rate of the flow of thought. However, I want the evidence to speak for itself as much as possible. The argument and setting remarks are important, but the evidence itself is like a picture that speaks a thousand words, eliminating the need to set out extremely technical lines of reasoning.

So, I can quote just a few lines from each document that makes the best impression, and have a link to the entire document somewhere on the web, for anyone who needs to further convince himself/herself. I guess that can be a list, and the setting and argument can go around it somehow to be crucial but visually less significant.

OK, then I do the same thing with 15 or 20 state constitutions and congressional declararions. However eventually, I have to summarize and quote some court cases and maintian a similar format-- I guess just putting main points in lists. Likewise I have to review some British (most importantly but also), European, Greek, and Roman history, keeping everthing simple and relevant, to explain and refute origins and common misconceptions -- again probably main points in lists. And there will be other stuff, like a fast and simple explanation on a philosophical shift in judicial interpretation in the 19th and 20th centuries, and making an analogy on the creation of the Federal Reserve System, after all the constitutional objections to the national bank. Oh, and then, I'll have to review some quotes by historical figures, establishing their true context, and the essence and influence of a few historcal works.

Normally,this would all be too much for the average person to review, but I honestly believe if I keep working at it,--eventualy, I can make something that is interesting, convincing, fast to read, and easy to understand. But, I think the key has to be the layout on the monitor.

In the old days, women made designs for quilts with a box of painted boxes to establish a design, a quilt cube box. I feel like I have to put my content in boxes and sub-boxes, and then find some new arrangement,like looking for a quilt design. In the Rico method, it would be a whole new "trail web shift" design that arises from the unconcious mind. Ehhh-- maybe not-- maybe I just kid myself too much. But it's worth thinking about.

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George
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Old 02-22-2006, 07:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George
In the old days, women made designs for quilts with a box of painted boxes to establish a design, a quilt cube box. I feel like I have to put my content in boxes and sub-boxes, and then find some new arrangement,like looking for a quilt design.
Some people organize their thoughts with index cards, pinned to a bulletin board and moved around as new connections arise (or seem more important).

There are tools for thinking like that, but I cannot think of any for presentation that wouldn’t call for a lot of space — or a lot of scrolling up, down, and sideways. Or maybe you need layers that come forward or drop behind but are never out of reach.

Interesting problem you have, George.

   
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Old 02-22-2006, 01:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel
Some people organize their thoughts with index cards, pinned to a bulletin board and moved around as new connections arise (or seem more important).

There are tools for thinking like that, but I cannot think of any for presentation that wouldn’t call for a lot of space — or a lot of scrolling up, down, and sideways.
You might find a program called Inspiration of use. My wife purchased if for her son, but I don't think the idea is age-limited.

http://www.inspiration.com/home.cfm
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Old 02-22-2006, 01:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George
Say I have 20 colonial documents that within their content establish a point on the origin of American law. The evidence is dramatic and overwhelming, but who is going to read that much to find out if I've made my point?? And the amount of space taken up is going to create the wrong impression on the weight of the point being made to rate of the flow of thought. However, I want the evidence to speak for itself as much as possible. The argument and setting remarks are important, but the evidence itself is like a picture that speaks a thousand words, eliminating the need to set out extremely technical lines of reasoning.
Sounds, on the outside, like the project I was working on for West Publishing (Westlaw) in 1994 which would build a collection of CDs: cases hyperlinked to referenced cases and indexed terms hyperlinked to relevant cases. Of course "hyperlinked" wasn't the word they used then but it did have a lot of similarity to a hypercard stack.
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Old 02-22-2006, 03:05 PM   #9
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George,
Quote:
Say I have 20 colonial documents that within their content establish a point on the origin of American law. The evidence is dramatic and overwhelming, but who is going to read that much to find out if I've made my point?? And the amount of space taken up is going to create the wrong impression on the weight of the point being made
So how about outlining your main points of arguement in heirarcial headings (H1, H2, H3), then fleshing that out with text that supports them, and containing quotes as well as links to the full supporting documents. Thats roughly how I understand the web to work well.

Quote:
However, I want the evidence to speak for itself as much as possible. The argument and setting remarks are important, but the evidence itself is like a picture that speaks a thousand words, eliminating the need to set out extremely technical lines of reasoning.
The evidence may speak to you, but not to others, either because they won't, or haven't had a reason to, read all the documents, or even if they do the idea is not evident to them. Therfore the need for you to summerize the data and state your arguement, aided by the web tools of hyperlinks, structural markup, and styling !

   
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Old 02-23-2006, 05:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Waller
We used to draw a 'mind map' on a whiteboard and this seemed a good way. Linking from a central concept in several directions as ideas are contributed.

Perhaps on the web a Blog is what you want.

On my Goring website (not currently very up-to-date) I used to insert items of local news and comments as the arose, with photos. A sort of community Blog I guess.
I'm sorry to have admit it, but it seems my mind is too set in its ways to properly comprehend the sgnificance of a blog. I guess I need people like you to tell me to keep trying. But I do have some similar ideas, if I could develop them.

Thanks,

George
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