Argument Mapping Internship
The goal of this internship was to research different argument mapping software and to assess the (1) availability of each program; (2) the usability- how easy each program was to use; (3) and the 'illumination' of each program- e.g. how clear does it make the argument structure and at what 'cost' in terms of time, etc. I looked at five different argument mapping software programs that were made available to me. The program ‘Rationale’ was one that Dr. Crowley was interested in from the start and ended up paying for in order to get a copy. The four remaining programs were available for public use and were free to ‘get a hold of’- two of which (Araucaria and Argumentative) came from the Wikipedia page on ‘argument mapping’; one came from one of Dr. Crowley’s colleagues entitled ‘Agora’, which happened to still be in the process of being created, so I helped provide feedback on that, and was a completely online based program (no downloading of software necessary, complete with a ‘virtual’ memory bank online); the last one was a ‘brainstorming and mind mapping’ software program called ‘Bubbl.us’ that I came across the previous semester in another class and is also an online based program. Rationale and Bubbl.us were the two that were the most ‘user friendly’- i.e. the easiest to use- yet, Bubbl.us was more easily available than Rationale due to it being free and available to the public, but did not provide as much ‘illumination’ in to the structure of arguments as Rationale did. Araucaria seemed to be the most frustrating in that I couldn’t get anything done with it- yet, I think that there is hope for it once one gets a feel for it that is more in-depth than mine. So, the usability on it is still a potential and is still to be determined (as well as the ‘illumination’ aspect of it), although I think that it could be quite useful once it is figured out. Argumentative was a bit frustrating since it kept kicking me off of the program without having saved my work- which was time consuming. The structure of it, though, once in effect, was useful and quite ‘illuminating’. The Agora software provided the most when it came to the ‘illumination’ aspect of the criteria involved in assessing the quality of an argument mapping software program, but its usability proved to be somewhat strenuous and very ‘definitive’. Once you picked the structure of the argument, you were stuck with it and could not change anything without deleting everything attached to the ‘box’ you were trying to change, which was frustrating. It has a lot of potential, though, and is a process that is still ‘in the making’ so to speak.