Monday, October 04, 2004

Concept Mapping – Introduction

Well, I went looking for introduction on Content Mapping and I found some interesting websites detailing concepts of “concept mapping,” software products and companies involved in this area.

After downloading some information and several demos, finally I found information on Decision Explorer software, a tool for concept mapping, from Banxia Software. As I learn by doing, I decided to go through the Decision Explorer Workbook provided by Banxia.

Even though, it is a poorly written document … typical technical document where writer forgot the “novice” user for whom the tutorial was suppose to be written. My objective wasn’t to learn Decision Explorer but to understand the process of Concept Mapping. Following is the summary of what I learnt from this document … still incomplete understanding but a good start.

  1. List Concept (emergent phrase).
  2. List Contrasting phrase (contrasting pole). Contrasting poles are important, giving more meaning to ideas, and bringing out the “shades of gray” in people’s thinking.
  3. Building causal model. Asking “how” and “why” questions. Explore where something might lead (why?) and what might have made it (how?) to draw out the most important ideas. It may also result in discovering that what you thought you were aiming for is really just part of a higher goal or real issue is focused somewhere else.To move up a line of argument and elicit the consequences of a particular concept, you ask “why” questions like “why is this important to me?” “why do I want to achieve this?.” To move down the model or explore the explanation beneath a particular concept, you ask “how” questions such as “how would this be achieved?” “how was that caused?.”
  4. Asking “why” questions takes us “up” from a concept giving us consequences, while asking “how” questions takes us “down” from a concept giving us explanations of how something might come about or what might cause a particular phenomenon.
  5. Create links of explanations (tails) and consequences (heads).
  6. This is the start of concept map model. Add more details by asking more “why” and “how” questions.
  7. Over time, you would have entered a large number of concepts, linking some “as you go along” and leaving other for consideration later (orphans). What you need to do is to find the orphan concepts and decide of and where they tie in with other concepts, and then add appropriate links. If they do not tie into the model then it is possible that they represent an area not fully explored or no longer relevant or have been represented elsewhere.

... to be continued.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Concept Mapping

Just came across "Concept Mapping" while reading Business 2.0. It is interesting to me not because of its "intelligence" potential but how it will enocurage organizations to collect and store more data for business intelligence, resulting in requirements for more data storage. The magazine mentioned how IBM's WebFountain concept mapping service lets companies find out what is being said about them online. Some of the companies mentioned are ClearForest, IBM and Mindfabric.

I am interested in learning more about "Concept Mapping" ... looking for some introductory material!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Getting back to technology hands-on

After few years of working with technology and implementations at high level i.e. hands-off, I have decided to return to get the thrills of working hands-on. Becoming hands-on and with only finite number of hours in a day, I do not expect to know wide variety of technologies, vendors and products as previously. What I expect to be is gaining the label of “specialist” instead of “generalist.

I am still investigating potentially rewarding sub-segments of data storage sector, by technologies, vendors and their products. While this process continues, I decided to focus this month on updating my Operating System (OS) knowledge.

After having worked with Microsoft Windows OS platforms last few years and with Open VMS before that, it was obvious to me to dig deep in to a UNIX flavor. Even though, I have supported clients who use UNIX flavors like Sun Solaris, HP-UX and Tru64 in their environment, I wanted to dig really deep in to the core of a UNIX platform. The choice between different UNIX flavors wasn’t very difficult considering the rising popularity of Linux and ability to use Linux on commodity Wintel hardware.

Note:If you are interested in learning other UNIX flavors like Sun Solaris, HP-UX, IBM AIX etc., it is not very difficult to acquire used hardware and software for education/training purposes. In addition to eBay auctions, there are quite a few sources for used proprietary UNIX hardware and software in Toronto – Unix HQ and Micropeer the ones come to my mind.