Zest: Discussion mapping for mailing lists
Citation: Ka-Ping Yee (2002) Zest: Discussion mapping for mailing lists. CSCW 2002 (RSS)
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Tagged: Computer Science (RSS) argumentation (RSS), mailing lists (RSS), discussion mapping (RSS), email argumentation (RSS), online argumentation (RSS)
Zest uses the existing structure of email messages to generate thread-based summaries without user effort. Zest can also generate argument maps using a very simple typographic convention: users can optionally add 'criticons' at the beginning of the each paragraph to indicate the relationship:
- [?] for a question
- [#] for a statement
- [+] for a supporting argument
- [-] for an opposing argument
- [!] for a resolved discussion
Yee says that these criticons include the most useful and clear parts of IBIS;
Criticons break up the structure of a message, can be helpful to human readers, and can be learned by example.
Zest provides an overview of each thread. Rather than just showing the reply structure with subject headings at the message level, Zest provides a more detailed overview with content from the thread: each quote or unquoted section (and each section broken at a criticon) is represented by the sentences in its first two lines. This allows a quick overview of the thread, without use of NLP, but only relying on the reply structure and quote-reply chains. Further, when writers use topic sentences, the overview corresponds to a summary of the thread.
Easy path to adoption
Its 'gentle seduction' philosophy* emphasizes predictability, backward compatibility, the ability to learn by example and visible payoff.
Zest provides summaries of email using reply structure and quote-reply chains, and can generate argument maps from optional criticons, improving organizational memory and decision support from email.
*The 'gentle seduction' philosophy is drawn from J. Grudin. Groupware and social dynamics: Eight challenges for developers. Comm. of the ACM 37(1), p. 92–105, Jan. 1994
Argumentation references are
- gIBIS: A hypertext tool for exploratory policy discussion
- Issues as elements of information systems
- F. Flores, M. Graves, B. Hartfield, T. Winograd. Computer systems and the design of organizational interaction. ACM Trans. on Information Systems 6(2), p. 153–172, 1988. (speech act theory from the designers of the language/action perspective. Yee comments that "Deployment failed in practice because users were unwilling to fit every message into the explicit categories that The Coordinator imposed."
Theoretical and Practical Relevance
Zest can be run on listserv archives since it requires no special structure.
This was a demo paper at CSCW 2002. A later paper, Content-Centered Discussion Mapping (Online Deliberation 2005), evaluates and iterates on this work.