Graph Style (Nodes and Edges) or Document Oriented Style?

Oinker user Zhao Wei wrote:

No CONNECTORS in true mindmap style? Either like freeplane or bubblus (web service) with line connectors linking nodes back and forth, arrowheaded and with labels both to/from ends and in center.

Actually, Oinker has a graph (network) structure as its core model, but its representation in the user interface, unlike other ideation tools, is not a nodes-and-edges style.

Why? Honestly, I don’t know. The concept of Oinker popped up in my mind, out of nowhere.

Possibly, Oinker’s document oriented style was inspired by Wiki whose data model has documents as nodes (pages) and hyperlinks as edges. The only difference is the representation of edges. A link in Oinker means visually embedding a node to another node.


Both styles have pros and cons. For example, nodes-and-edges is good for grasping the overview of a whole idea represented in a graph while the amount of information on a node is inevitably compressed (ideally, to a word or phrase). Document oriented style is suitable for building full-fledged documents which contains plenty of text and images, and it’s also important that the elements in a document are arranged in order from top to bottom.

In hindsight, one of the reasons Oinker adopted the style is that it aims to promote a bottom-up ideation approach where a user makes a large document from collected details. If you are suppose to draw a map like a mind map or concept map in nodes-and-edges format from the beginning, you would tend to build an idea from an abstract level.

Oinker’s bottom-up approach could be called a From Detail to Detail approach where you collect details by chatting and create a structure from them. Then you give body and substance to it with other newly collected details.

When you want to overview the emerging structure, it would be helpful to view it as a nodes-and-edges network. However, it should be noted that a document tends to contain many meaningless nodes which a network view should deal with somehow to avoid the verbosity of being precise.

One thought on “Graph Style (Nodes and Edges) or Document Oriented Style?

  1. It’s amazing what “pops” into your head! It seems to me that there exists a large number of great minds busy thinking alike, but not knowing each other. In some sense, that’s why we created

    I’d like to point to a couple of projects which give evidence of thinking alike, not to take anything away from the amazing design patterns emerging in Oinker, but, instead, to stimulate a way larger conversation about this class of online sensemaking platforms, all varieties of GettingThingsDone, Kanban, and other concepts as suggested below.

    Consider (open source)
    It is an outgrowth of the Cohere project — now no longer supported. But, what’s the deal? Something stated above about nodes and arcs having their place. Cohere was all about nodes and arcs graphs for really high powered knowledge structures, not unlike really cogent things said in this blog and related blog posts here. The game is called IBIS (issue-based information systems), where you hold conversations as ways to find solutions to “wicked” problems. Start with a question, follow it with ideas, follow those with questions, more ideas, and pro and con arguments. You get a tree structure. The open source desktop system Compendium is all about IBIS structured conversations. Cohere took that one step further, to allow to wire nodes in that tree together with “coherence relations”, a topic discussed in this blog about trees and lattices. But, that got messy. Enter EvidenceHub. It is a structured conversation platform, but with a difference: while there is, in fact, a conversation tree there, you don’t see it; what you see, instead, are wiki-like pages (I call them “dashboards”).

    It, too, is an IBIS conversation platform (not open source). It has been in development since around 2006 or 7. It has a very long history of searching for sweet spots in graph navigation. What is it today? What ever you want. There are nodes and arcs, there are page views, outline views, streams, and varieties of tree structures. Most people using it now tend to link not to the node view but to the page view. Looks more like a blog.

    Speaking of which, I hope to learn how to use Oinker sufficiently well enough to say what I just said here, but there.


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