Coevolving Innovations

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Evolution of open source IBIS software

Posted on March 06, 2014 by daviding

As a way to enable conversations about wicked problemsIBIS (Issue-Based Information Systems) software seems to have evolved over the past few years.  While the academic support of IBIS software has carried an open source license, part of the community has become independent of the university.

For those unfamiliar with how an IBIS might work, Jeff Conklin (at the Cognexus Institute) had done a lot of work on Issues-Based Information Systems (IBIS) based on Rittel and Webber‘s “wicked problems”. The open source software supporting this is Compendium.   See the “Limits of Conversational Structure” | Jeff Conklin | April 10, 2008 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxS5wUljfjE .

Simon Buckingham Shum, from the Knowledge Media Institute at The Open University UK, mapped the first UK election Tv debate in 2010 (or at least the few first minutes before his connection was interrupted).  “Dialogue Mapping election debate video” | Simon Buckingham Shum | April 23, 2010 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPF64UXFER0.

Paul Culmsee, an issue and dialogue mapper in Australia, shares some of his experience in facilitation based in three videos.

“Powerful questions part 1: The platitude buster question” | Paul Culmsee | May 2, 2013 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svaasbQIUEk


“Powerful questions part 2: The key focus area question” | Paul Culmsee | May 8, 2013 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19IV_QJQD0U.


“Powerful questions part 3: The ‘I told you so’ question” | Paul Culmsee | July 11, 2013 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKRwUGW_V48.

If you prefer to read, see “The Practice of Dialogue Mapping” | Paul Culmsee | Sept. 10 2009.   An extended example is described at “Why can’t users find stuff on the intranet? An IBIS synthesis” | Paul Culmsee | Jan. 15, 2012.

The original Compendium software was developed at the Open University in the UK. However, in late 2012, the software was spun off into the open source community. The Compendium source code is now migrated over to CompendiumNG (Next Generation) at https://compendiumng.org/.

To get up the curve on using Compendium deeply, there’s some documentation available as PDF on the Cognexus Institute site to get started.

The Knowledge Management Institute from the Open University has continued research in more collaborative web technology with Cohere at http://cohere.open.ac.uk/ . This project was considered a success, with work continuing as Evidence Hub at http://evidence-hub.net/.  See the “Evidence Hubs: a new kind of website” | EvidenceHub | July 27, 2012 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fB2Kd2La8g , as well as other videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/EvidenceHub .

The academics will appreciate the learning on Cohere published as “Socially augmented argumentation tools: Rationale, design and evaluation of a debate dashboard” | Luca Iandoli, Ivana Quinto, Anna De Liddo, Simon Buckingham Shum | 2014-03-31 | International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. If you want to know about alternatives, there was a conference on “ODET 2010: Online Deliberation Emerging Tools” | March 13, 2010 .

More collaborative, but maybe less relevant as an IBIS is concept mapping with CMapTools at http://cmap.ihmc.us/ .

I personally use the Visual Understanding Environment at http://vue.tufts.edu/ , but it looks as though the funding for the project may have dried up, so future development may not be forthcoming.

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