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Star Structured vs. Tree Structured Conferencing

Although Notes has evolved in many ways over the years, one thing that has never changed is the star structure of its notesfiles. One or two PLATO users wrote experimental versions of Notes using tree-structured (or "threaded") notesfiles, but most people who tried them found them hard to use and the idea did not catch on.

My own feeling is that a star structure is much more conducive to ongoing discussion. Human conversation is inherently disorganized, and a tree structure attempts to impose too much discipline. Conversations often tend to fragment and dissipate quickly in a tree. Some people seem at home with a tree structure, but in my experience more people find it rather foreign and overly complex.

With a star structure, each base note and its chain of responses resembles a conversation that we might have with a group of people gathered around a table. The conversation might drift or develop multiple threads, but if that becomes a problem, it is easily dealt with by simply starting new base notes to carry on divergent threads. A notesfile director can suggest this, but often the participants do it themselves.

Copyright © 1994 by David R. Woolley

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Copyright (c) 1996 - 2006 Elizabeth Mattijsen
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