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- 1. Introduction
2. Online Brainstorming compared to offline
- 1.1. Examples
- 1.2. Experiences
- 1.3. Thoughts
- 1.4. Possible Guidelines
- 3. Notes on process
- 4. Conclusions
- 5. References
- 6. Appendices
- 6.1. TOC use
WikiBrainstorming is about a new attempt to do real brainstorming using a wiki. This means that a group of contributors agree on a topic before creating the page and promise (in a way) to work it out. The first such experiment was the page ProblemSolving. It was not a big success but it may produce some useful pages. The experiences should be gathered here for future attempts.
A wiki is typically not used for brainstorming, because brainstorming creates a chaos that is unattractive to the public (WikiQualityProblem?) and hard to refactor. It's much more acceptable to start a page with a nice article that sets the direction and that can be discussed and enhanced.
- Do you agree that it may be helpful to state this as a Concern, rather than letting it imply that this is a 'sufficient' cause? I suggest this because I hope that any "chaos" that is created will be temporary (limited only to the duration of the BrainStorming phase of a Page's creation). After that, I would hope that effective refactoring would reduce the apparent chaos, if only by placing it into a context that includes a proper Summary, Background, Conclusions, etc...
- I certainly agree that it will be "hard to refactor" under certain conditions, but I suspect it may be possible to use BrainStorming as one technique in achieving the Objective you stated of creating a 'good page', especially if there is an aspect of the page that has caused "writer's block".
- That being said, I certainly see value is starting a page with text that sets a direction that can be discussed and enhanced. In fact, I feel that it should be possible to meld the twi approaches and may try to do that in a subsequent attempt such as the WikiPrivacy page stub that I created.
- -- HansWobbe
But sometimes single contributors feel that this is either not possible (you start with an observation, an unclear or very complex problem) or not the optimal way (you don't want to push your personal viewpoint). So they start a page with some ideas, as you would start a brainstorming session ... and they hope that others will join in.
- With respect to this type of style of BrainStorming, one aspect I noticed is that very few people did join in. I do not have enough experience here at meatball to know if this is because the Subject is relatively uninteresting or if it is because this community is relatively quiet (in comparision to 'c2'). It may be interesting to try another brainstorming experiment at c2 and see how that community responds.
At MeatballWiki it has become a habit - a little politeness - to put a "BrainstormMode" at the top of such a page. Sometimes even a "DeletedPage - BrainstormMode" is used. So if the original poster forgets about the task (people often loose interest) the page will be removed after about 2 weeks automatically.
- It is not easy to get a balance between contributors
- The brainstorming will typically end in the creation of a number of new pages. The contributors should have the time to work this out (don't walk away, don't go on a vacation next weekend, don't think this is done in 5 minutes).
1.4. Possible Guidelines
- Try to agree on:
- dayly contributions from each contributor, about N-M ideas (balance), ...
- the end of brainstorming (perhaps fixed time is best, e.g. a week)
[Copied from ProblemSolving, to be refactored]
2. Online Brainstorming compared to offline
- it is much slower (days or weeks instead of an hour maximum).
- a positive aspect is that the slower speed does allow for a more deliberate (well thought out?) contribution. I find I ponder a point during a day or so, before comming back and posting it. Time will tell whether or not this is better, but it will definitely be more conducive to Sunir's 'passing of the baton'.
- it's more difficult to get into brainstorming mood and stay there intensively for a short period of time (turn off reflection)
- people are quick to turn away (in real life you sit together for an hour, you can't just leave)
- Is pondering good in brainstorming? Offline, part of the idea is speed, creative ferment, avoiding premature editing.
- (obvious) contributors needn't be in a place
- anonymous contributions are welcome (in real-life you can't brainstorm with your boss)
- Agree upon the end of brainstorming
- fixed duration (e. g. a week)
- Is a fixed duration necessary? After all, one of the benefits of a Wiki Community is that subsequent visitors may 're-light' the fire (to use the metaphor that is presently being developed). I think there may be merit in using datestamps, to set a scope for the current phase of an active brainstorming session, but that might not even be needed as long as the Recent Changes activity is not too great.
- Depends on project. Some projects have time limits. Some can continue until participants get bored and/or stop having new ideas.
- have "Contributors active in brainstroming: ..." and "Contributors that finished brainstorming:"
- Agree upon the rhythm of contributions (e. g. 3-5 in turn, daily rhythm)
- This is likely to very important since setting the participant's expectations and meeting them will help build the trust and respect that may be significant factors in brainstorming.
- Agree that anyone may add, change or reorder anything without asking (be bold)
- There should never be more than one active brainstorming page at the same time
- I'm not sure that this 'rule' can (or should) exist. After all, separate groups of Individuals may form coincidentally, to engage in brainstorming activities independantly and there is little in the WikiWay that would preclude this. Since I can see a number of issues that might arise, it may be worth expanding this aspect, especially if there is a real perception that the 'rule' may be needed.
- A contributor should never be active in more than one brainstorming at the same.
- This, I believe to be an impossible restriction. After all, we all participate in several online communities and may actually have separate 'working groups' within even just this meatball community. Trying to restrict the Rights of an individual strikes me as not being a good idea, especially in a Commmunity where the Individual has the ultimate right to withdraw and the Community generally wants to encourage active participation.
3. Notes on process
Above are just a few notes to get us started. It's a flat list for now to avoid narrowing the discussion prematurely. I'm leaving my contributions unattributed to encourage others to drop their ideas in wherever they fit. I'd suggest spending a few days on IdeaGeneration? before trying to collate and synthesize.
I'm using BrainstormMode and CategoryBrainstorming links to make this page and any that it spawns easier to clean up when done. -- KatherineDerbyshire
I've added a few thoughts but only few new entries. Without some ordering I've problems to see what's there and what's missing. I try to keep a brainstorming feeling but it isn't that easy for me. -- HelmutLeitner
I agree with Helmut that we are going to have to have a way of at least 'clustering' items such as the ones on this page if we are going to focus as well as I think I (at least) should. Since I'm still relatively new to useMod and its markup, I have taken a copy of this material with the intent of trying to cluster it in a way that makes sense to me. I'll post that for your consideration tomorrow. Feel free to keep posting in the mean time. After all, we will need a way to refactor 'on the fly' so I may as well consider that facet of the problem as I work at the clustering. -- HansWobbe
Hans, Katherine has pushed forward this topic without explicit consent and pushed in a lot of content. This created a large asymmetry which we must try to balance. I tried to add some ideas of mine and I would prefer you do the same. To anounce external clustering work creates the danger that contributors will just stop to wait and see. -- HelmutLeitner
- Helmut: I understand your concern that '... announce external clustering work creates the danger that contributors will just stop...'. That is certainly not my intention, which is why I did suggest 'Feel free to keep posting' and also indicated that I would not spend more than a day trying to cluster the material. I am a bit unsure of how you would now prefer to proceed and since we are trying to develop a methodology for Collaboration, I would prefer to clarify, rather than just proceeding on what may be invalid assumptions. Specifically:
- Would you prefer I not post my very initial effort at clustering?
- Do you have a preferred approach of 'balancing the asymetry'?
- Regards -- HansWobbe
Brainstorming works best socially (OralCulture) and structured. Rather than have one person braindump, which excludes other voices since it a braindum is by definition not a conversation, it's best to pick one angle of a topic and have everyone focus on that before moving onto the next angle. Also, pass the baton a little so that dominant voices are forced to be quiet and quiet voices are forced to speak up, as in "Alice what is one aspect of the customer," "Bob, what is another aspect," and go around and around. That is hard to translate into a wiki, but you can spatially separate and limit the number of points each person can add each round, perhaps. I don't know. I'm just brainstorming, and I am completely oblivious to the context here, but that's just a couple notes tossed into the ring. -- SunirShah
- Sunir, for my part let me express my pleasure at seeing you join in. I've seen enough of your posts at Wards to appreciate that your contributions will undoubtedly be helpful. I certainly agree that the 'traditional' approach to brainstorming is Oral and that we should take care to adopt as many of the best practices as we can from that medium. I do, however, also respect Kathleen's statement that she can work very effectively off-line. In fact, I even share some of that preference. Furthermore, wiki based communication tends to be an asynchronous mode of communication by the very natue of its Posting technologies.
- It may be interesting to try a couple of different methods, if only to see what works best (which may be different for different combinations of the participating Individuals). I have certainly seen good results come from the 'baton' approach you suggested, as well as from the 'delphi conference' types of approaches or the Moderated approaches (especially when the Moderator is sufficiently skilled to be able to use various techniques at different times and in combinations so as to manage the pace and the participation to achieve an optimal result. Obviously, do do this, we would have to invest a bit of time in defining a set of methods that can be used to emulate the Oral media as best we can within the Wiki environment.
- That being said, I have frequently found that I can ponder such matters to the point of exhaustion, only to then 'throw out' my deliberations once I actually undertake the tasks. This is especially true for me when I have not done something before, such as trying to use a wiki to brainstorm. If we are concerned about this, it might be better to just jump into a particular problem relatively aggressively, at least for a defined, short period of time, then recess and see what was achieved.
- Regards -- HansWobbe
Hans, just be bold and walk ahead. Brainstorming initially needs a free flow of ideas, even weird, extraordinary, crazy or funny and that's more difficult online. At that point reflection and "meta-thinking" won't help. Off brainstorming: my experience is that it doesn't help to say "just ignore this and continue" because people won't. It feels better to act directly in the wiki than prepare actions outside. For me it was usually more effective in the past to do things than to talk about what I was about to do. -- HelmutLeitner
My instincts tell me that trying something and seeing what happens is better (at least for me) than trying to specify the process in advance. LearnByDoing?. That approach inherently involves a certain amount of ambiguity and chaos, of course. -- KatherineDerbyshire
Well, for what its worth (??), I created did a totally arbitrary clustering.
The clusters are simply in alphabetical sequence. There is no real signifiance to their names or the number of them that I created. The entries within each cluster are in no particular arder. Entries posted in the original alphabetic sequence have simple been moved to fall under one of these headings. It is already obvious that some of the entries should co-exist under more than one heading, but it has not been possible to select an obviously appropriate way of doing this yet.
In retrospect, I fond that the process of clustering them made me think about them a bit differently than I did originally, so there may be some value in others going through a similar process and sharing it if they wish to.
I've accepted the clustering and removed the redundancy introduced. I've removed non-usemod markup to make the layout more pleasing. -- HelmutLeitner
Thanks for cleaning up the markup, Helmut. (I was a bit short of time, and had to abandon the effort). It looks good and I think I see what is different and learned a bit.
I may have just done some harm (very unintentionally). I found a bunch of oriental chatracters on the bottom of the page, decided they were spam, and 'reverted' to the immediately preceding version. Having done thiat, I am worried that I can't find some of the 'unclustered' suggestions that I believe I noticed earlier. My sincere apologies if my (well intended) attempt has turned out badly.
- Exploring this a bit further, I now see that there is a gap in the version numbers that I failed to notice earlier. I'm not sure what to make of that and if it is possible to retrieve the points that I may may lost. I'm embarassed, if only because I should obviously not been quite is 'bold' in trying to make a change, given that I'm still very unfamiliar with this useMod version of the wiki technology.
Currently I think that brainstorming hasn't added more quality to the typical wiki way of building a topic. -- HelmutLeitner
I certainly agree that this attempt was not obviously more effective than the usual approach to building a page. I am not, however, convinced that this effort did not simply deal with a set of conditions that would be called "Necessary, But Not Sufficient" by some people that have lectured me in the past. Hence, I will reconsider what has been learned for a while and try to identify those factors and forces that would obviously be Sufficient'. -- HansWobbe
Davies, J. [JonathanDavies?] (2004). Wiki brainstorming and problems with wiki based collaboration. Project for University of York Computer Science. Available from http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~kimble/teaching/students/Jonathan_Davies/Jonathan_Davies.html
This current appendix simply relocates some material that this page accumulated which is a bit off the page's topic, but which is probably insufficient to warrant creating a new page for.
6.1. TOC use
I have noticed that there are relatively few pages that make use of the TOC capability. Is there a reason for this? I ask because it appeals to be personally, and I find myself tempted to add it to pages when I contribute to them. If, however, this is inappropriate in some people's opinions, I will limit my use of the function. -- HansWobbe