Last night, I had another one of those political discussions on Israel/Palestine, and as usual, the person I was speaking made some points that were good, some that didn't connect to me because I don't accept basic principles they're based on (eg ethnic homeland, etc), and some that were stupid (meaning that I can't see how they'd convince anyone who actually thinks about them, e.g. quibbling over whether the name 'Palestinians' is appropriate). This got me this morning to think about argument maps, as I've often argued that they're the best way to explore an argument, make it public, and not have it over and over again. I would like to make software to manage this, and have been thinking of variations on the theme. Argument maps without these adornments are philosophically better and more pure, I think, but imagine these variations:
- Establishing lines down the right side of the map (wavering left and right to fit the argument structure) that mark where each participant last contributed. This helps if there are a moderate number of contributors (less than 10) and some people are being a bit slow, or if a discussion is quiet for a long time and then someone new starts contributing again.
- If one or a few people go off exploring a line of reasoning that someone doesn't think is well-founded (e.g. 3 or 4 people accept ethnic homelands and want to discuss them, but someone does not), they can mark the node starting that discussion as being ill-founded in their opinion and when people click on node detail for any descendant nodes, they can see the categorical objection (and possibly reply to the specific instantiation or the objection as a while, in the appropriate places)
It turns out that the recruitment protest is on Monday, not today. Oh well.
I recently got some freebies from surplus -- two small hubs (one of which I'll keep for my group at work, the other of which goes home with me) and a wireless bridge (going home). Hurrah.