The cognitive style of parallel writing

Stephanie Booth is reflecting on the experiment with writing a summary of a conference session as a group in SubEthaEdit (which allows users connected to one host to write together on a single text file; it looks like this -each user has a seperate color- and when finished the result can be published on a wiki). She writes:

Discipline is needed to separate the actual notes (ie, “what the conferencer said”) from the note-taker comments (ie, extra links, commentary, questions, remarks). This isn’t a big issue when a unique person is taking notes for his or her private use, but it becomes really important when more people are involved. I think that although we did do this to some extent, we were a bit sloppy about it.

What instantly popped into my head when reading this was the list of strategies for knowledge tool users I jotted down one day. SubEthaEdit is a pretty raw editor – so it may be hard to correlate the intentions. It’s like a jazz combo, where you need to listen closely and feel the right moment to give signals to your counterparts.

There is no point in trying to summarize the paper or being just adding more links. But is some value in contextualizing and reflecting a presentation. But the most important thing when taking notes is to try to connect it to own thinking.

Now, is a collaborative reflection by writing in a raw editor with rudimentary formatting really clarifying anything for each author? The results appear pretty unorganized and I feel that there is a lot to learn about this practice. And there will probably someone coming up with a tool that is optimized for this “group thinking by group writing” task. Without going further into details, some would argue that there is no such thing like “group thinking”.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.