Making sense of sensemaking


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position paper for CHI workshop

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Making sense of sensemaking

  1. 1. Making Sense of Sensemaking John C. Thomas Research Staff Member IBM T. J. Watson Research Center Sensemaking Workshop: CHI 2005 Portland, Oregon April 3-4, 2005
  2. 2. History: Some Relevant Work <ul><li>Hobbits-Orcs: people operating at two levels ? – solving and sensemaking; or part of a single loop? </li></ul><ul><li>Psychology of Aging: education decreases variance </li></ul><ul><li>“ Subjects” are active sensemakers: S-R Frame Problem (Brad) verbal learning, visual masking </li></ul><ul><li>Query By Example: did well at translating, not SM </li></ul><ul><li>Psychology of Design </li></ul><ul><li>Rational-Emotive Therapy: 2 year fellowship </li></ul><ul><li>NYNEX: Led AI Lab; Proposal to make NYNEX a “Learning Organization.” </li></ul><ul><li>Business Uses of Stories and Storytelling </li></ul><ul><li>Socio-technical Pattern Language </li></ul><ul><li>E-learning system uses metadata, user’s constraints and goals to build “custom course” pointed at current needs </li></ul><ul><li>Tools for Consultants </li></ul><ul><li>Now: Complexity Metrics & Orthogonal Defect Classification </li></ul>
  3. 3. Sensemaking: not just task-oriented ? <ul><li>The Magical Hurricane Fence </li></ul><ul><li>The Case of the Deranged Disk </li></ul><ul><li>The Case of the Disconnected Doorbell </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Initially task-oriented within a specified context--- but jumping “out” of the loop to realize you are solving the wrong problem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When your task is trying to make sense of XYZ, when do you realize that the whole enterprise may not be (only) about objective truth wrt XYZ? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why am I pulled out of line at the airlines so often? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Annoying but no time to pursue (foraging theory); realize bureaucratic swamp </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social network eventually provides pointer to New York Magazine article about 2 years after problem first noted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Johnnie Thomas (80+ year old African American lady) also stopped </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ John Thomas” is an alias (1/20) of a 25 year old male terrorist (already in Jail) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sure enough, months of her effort to solve -- > no result </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Other sensemaking activities: Activities during which sensemaking plays a major role <ul><li>Reading a novel </li></ul><ul><li>Watching a movie </li></ul><ul><li>Playing chess </li></ul><ul><li>Playing “cops and robbers” (making sense of the future) </li></ul><ul><li>Psychotherapy </li></ul><ul><li>Meditation </li></ul><ul><li>Religious Ceremonies </li></ul><ul><li>Finite and Infinite Games – Carsten </li></ul><ul><li>George Carlin, Robin Williams: Making NONSENSE out of sense </li></ul><ul><li>Athletic contests </li></ul><ul><li>Drugs </li></ul><ul><li>Taking a walk </li></ul><ul><li>“ Re-living” a traumatic event (making sense of the past) </li></ul><ul><li>Rationalizing conflicting narratives </li></ul>
  5. 5. H: Sensemaking exists at different levels of centrality to person and behavior is different <ul><li>What does it mean to be alive? </li></ul><ul><li>What does it mean to be human? </li></ul><ul><li>What does it mean to be me? </li></ul><ul><li>How does this new technique, central to my profession, work? (cf. George in Eben) </li></ul><ul><li>How do I do this laboratory test? </li></ul><ul><li>Intermediate? Scenario with teeth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>That is, use a scenario that “hooks into” the person’s professional identity with high motivation </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Possible relationships to “task-oriented” sensemaking <ul><li>Focus only on task-related. Period. </li></ul><ul><li>Broaden field of inquiry </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on task-related, but other sensemaking activities and contexts shed new light on task-related </li></ul><ul><li>Cf. Plato system and computer games </li></ul>
  7. 7. Hypothesis: <ul><li>Crisis management tooling is best leveraged not by tools to help during crisis management, but by preparatory tools </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative team scenario enactment </li></ul><ul><li>Recruitment & testing </li></ul><ul><li>Motivation </li></ul><ul><li>Shared ontology development </li></ul><ul><li>“ Common cases” shorthand </li></ul><ul><li>Kellogg Blink example: Red Team/Blue Team </li></ul>
  8. 8. Largely Neglected wins: <ul><li>Story: By David McKee refers to complex common experiences in film </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(echo of this in George’s initial “reminding” instructions) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin </li></ul><ul><li>Story as sensemaking Schank (cf. Kirsch, Shrager) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>CBT for SNA (@1985) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Patent Tool (@2000) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Speechflakes: humans not just IP; energy matters; genetic predispositions matter </li></ul><ul><li>Walking People by Paula Underwood </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogue David Bohm </li></ul><ul><li>Native American technique: eight different life-long roles for group sense-making (cf. Modified Heur. Eval). </li></ul>
  9. 9. Narrative Sensemaking <ul><li>Not just “moment to moment” </li></ul><ul><li>Must describe “trajectory” </li></ul><ul><li>Experience allows and limits trajectory paths </li></ul>
  10. 10. Memory Tales and Trails Time 1 Time N Time of Critical Event Framing filter
  11. 11. Memory Tales and Trails Time 1 Time N Time of Critical Event Framing filter
  12. 12. The Walking People <ul><li>A Study of Cross-generational sensemaking </li></ul><ul><li>The oral history included lessons learned </li></ul><ul><li>AND --- a growing repertoire of mechanisms for sensemaking and remembering </li></ul>
  13. 13. Examples <ul><li>Circle of circles </li></ul><ul><li>Redundancy, rhythm within oral history </li></ul><ul><li>Recruiting those with best memory </li></ul><ul><li>Training; verbatim & 3 alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>Action-oriented checking: tree size </li></ul><ul><li>Decades of slavery to mound-builders </li></ul><ul><li>Rule of Six </li></ul><ul><li>Who Speaks for Wolf </li></ul>
  14. 14. Other cases of sensemaking <ul><li>I am watching Aladdin, Robin Williams comes on and I think, “Wow! What a great general model for remindings.” </li></ul><ul><li>I am sitting on the porch, watching the reflection of raindrops apparently falling up and struck by the acceleration; relate to the “rising fast ball” in physics of baseball </li></ul>
  15. 15. Time in Quarters Dollars of Profit in Millions Actual Performance of NYNEX Business Centers
  16. 16. Time in Quarters Dollars of Profit in Millions compared with prediction Performance of NYNEX Business Centers/Mgm Report