An argument is not a serial affair. It is sequential because some statements have to follow others. But this doesn’t imply that its nature is necessarily serial. We usually string Statement B after Statement A, with Statements C, D, E, F, and so on following in that order: This is a serial structuring of our symbols. Perhaps each statement logically followed from all those which preceded it on the serial list, and if so, then the conceptual structuring would also be serial in nature, and it would be nicely matched for us by the symbol structuring. But a more typical case might find A is an independent statement, B dependent upon A, C and D, E depending upon D and B, and F dependent upon A, D, and E. The statements are sequential but not serial.
They form a conceptual network but not a conceptual chain. The old paper and pencil methods of manipulating symbols just weren’t very adaptable to making and using symbol structures to match the ways we make and use conceptual structures. With the new nonlinear symbol-manipulating methods, we have terrific flexibility.
Structured arguments are key to being able to see a variety of views on any given topic.
Example of Augmentation Tools:
• Create Symbols for Parts of an Argument: Each part of an argument can be coded with its own symbol to help the reader determine fact from opinion, research, analysis, etc. New symbols may be created to define parts of an argument such as research, premises, findings, opinion, hypothesis, or other categories.
• Color Code Parts of Speech: By color coding parts of speech people will be able to increase their speed for finding and comprehending key points. The parts of speech can be color coded so users can read through large amounts of information quickly. For example: verbs are one color, nouns another, adjectives a third.
• New Color Codes or Symbols for Hyperlinks: Hyperlinks can be identified by category to make finding information easier.
New symbols for links might include:
• Links to dictionaries, taxonomies or other references
• Links that refer to previous research or supporting information, including footnotes
• Links to information that contradicts the prevailing opinion
• Links to online discussions (discussion boards, blogs, and emails)
• MetaData Taxonomies and Ontologies Every document or section within a document can be tagged with metadata [data about the data] so it can be easily searched and integrated with taxonomies and ontologies.8
8 An example of a taxonomy currently in use in the medical community is the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). MeSH is the National Library of Medicine’s controlled vocabulary thesaurus. It consists of sets of terms naming descriptors in a hierarchical structure that permits searching at various levels of specificity.