Tom Atlee Shares Some Thoughts on Knowledge Mapping and Deliberation

I received an email from my NCDD Steering Committee member Tom Atlee yesterday that I wanted to share on the Happenings blog. After reading a speech by Bob Horn yesterday, Tom posted the following on NCDD's Wiki (at and the Collective Intelligence blog. Tom believes that Bob Horn's work became the seed crystal for making sense of a lot of other cognitive mapping technologies, he feels that this is a key area to add to our understanding of tools for high-quality deliberation and collective intelligence. Click below for Tom's message.

Knowledge mapping

Knowledge mapping is a general term that covers
* mapping public issues ("social messes," "wicked problems")(e.g., Robert Horn [see note below])
* mind maps (e.g., Inspiration software)
* pattern languages (e.g., Christopher Alexander)
* dialogue mapping (e.g., CogNexus Institute)
* graphic facilitation (e.g., David Sibbet)
* geographical information mapping (GIS - Geographical Information Systems and may include more traditional visuals such as
* quantitative charts and graphs
* process and procedure flow charts
* timelines
* and all other forms of visual presentation of information, especially of relationships (e.g., Edward Tufte)

_ _ _ _


Knowledge mapping offers a tremendous resource to deliberations about issues or problems. We can lay out what we collectively know, visually clarifying relationships among the relevant factors, actors, sectors, etc., involved with the problem. This can be done before, during and/or after any particular deliberation, containing and delineating the complexity of the issue or situation in a confrontable, usable form, embracing the full spectrum of arguments and options. Different groups working on a particular problem can simultaneously or subsequently can add their insights to the maps. If a group is working on a problem similar to an earlier group's, the later one can use the other's maps as a template for launching their own. Websites and publications based on issue maps could inform the public in an unbiased way, and councils of citizens, stakeholders, legislators and/or administrators could be informed by and/or create such issue maps.

Robert Horn <> lists a number of
different kinds of knowledge maps he is developing for policy and
issue work (for an overview, see
<, including the following:
* prototype issue maps
* dilemmas and paradoxes maps
* cross-boundary causality and dynamics maps
* policy context maps
* argumentation maps
* strategy maps
* options maps
* scenario maps
* Stakeholder goals, values and pressure maps
* agreement templates
* unknown territory maps
* mythosphere, media and public rhetoric maps
* Worldview influences maps

Knowledge mapping can be used to aid other visionary approaches seeking to summarize the full complexity of issues, such as:
* Possibility/Problem Focusers (Robert Theobald)
* Dynamic Knowledge Repositories (Doug Engelbart)
* issue-based virtual intelligence websites (Robert Steele)

Although knowledge mapping has been so far used primarily to chart out the tangles of negative factors related to an issue, it could just as well be used to map positive aspects in the spirit of Appreciative Inquiry and Asset Based Community Development. Among the positive factors that could be mapped around an issue, organization or community are relevant:
* resources
* assets
* creative options
* innovations
* networks
* visions

Tom Atlee
The Co-Intelligence Institute
PO Box 493
Eugene, OR 9744

Added by Sandy on June 01, 2004