Like our other knowledge cartography software tool Compendium, Cohere is a ‘horizontal’ application: it provides an extremely customizable visual language, and is agnostic as to the user community or field of application. This is what you want from a research platform that can serve as a vehicle for experimenting with new ideas, but the tradeoff is that huge customizability and high functionality makes a tool more complex for users who want it to do a specific job.

As part of our work with the Institute of Educational Technology in the OLnet project, we have been exploring the creation of a ‘vertical’ app from Cohere, in this case, to pool collective intelligence for the Open Education movement: a living map by, for and about the community, and those it seeks to impact. This has required us to strip down the visual language to a core set of entities and relations which we hypothesise could serve the needs of this community, but also many other communities of enquiry: Key Challenges, Issues, Proposed Solutions, Research Claims, Evidence, Resources, Organizations, Projects and People. In addition, we define a set of core themes derived from the project’s analysis of the Open Education field, and new ways to quickly add semantically typed ideas and connections (without being confronted by a visualization of a semantic triple as in Cohere).

This work has resulted in what we call an Evidence Hub, and a new widget-matrix we call the Explore view, which navigates the underlying network one focal-node at a time, refreshing the nodes displayed around it in the other widgets.

This 7min movie gives a quick demo of the Hub in use:

This longer 15min movie demonstrates some more of its functionality, including network visualizations and how we add new contributions.

We are now generalising the concept to other communities, as described in these slides, in order to test the building blocks in new contexts. By the summer we’ll have an open source release: