How we measure thinking tools

This is a permanent version, or snapshot, of this page. Please see Revision notes, below, for more details.

The dimensions used to characterise thinking tools in the spidergraph on the home page need to find a balance between usability and granularity.

This is unlikely to be an easy balance to find, as:

  • the people contributing this data know the tools well (and so will generally prefer granularity).
  • but this map is aimed at newcomers, for whom usability is more important as they try and find their way through this landscape.

Phase 1

In Phase 1 of this project:

  • we are happy to discuss and improve the following dimensions while the code is being developed for version 2 - see Project plan and How to comment
  • we've tried to find a balance and keep the number of dimensions to a dozen or less.

Note: in addition to the dimensions in the following table, Personal profiles includes a place to put your Confidence with the tool. We haven't figured out if and how we'll factor this in, but it looks like a good idea.

All scores (and Confidence) are on a 1-10 scale (terrible - brilliant):

Dimension Definition To score highly
Openness How well does it play with other tools? How interoperable and customisable is it? F/OSS. Use open standards. Has an API. Import/Export Allow 3rd party plugins. Available on all OSs, platforms. Supports structured data
Note-making How good is it as a note-making tool? Good outliner (easy indent/outdent, reorder, fold/zoom...) Atomic note structure, block references. Zettelkasten support.
Writing/Publishing How good is it as a writing & publishing tool? WYSIWYG, zen writing environment/design, editing feature set, seamless publishing system to Web, Social.
Idea discovery Does it help users organise and (re)discover relevant notes? Backlinks, Good search, AI-driven content discovery
User-friendliness How easy is it to start benefiting from it, off the shelf? New user can get started and get benefits without taking courses, reading 3 books and 23 blog posts, or installing a dozen plugins
Power How powerful, adaptable & configurable is it? Lots of features, highly customisable, many plug-ins, queryable knowledge, etc.
Multiplayer Allows teamwork Group-based collaboration: groups, permissions, workflows, version control, commenting, moderation...
Help Is it easy to find high-quality documentation and answers to common questions? Well-organised onboarding, documentation & FAQ system.
Community Is there a supportive community around the tool Helpful community, active 3rd party developers, etc.
Cost How expensive is the tool Free, or at least a v. useful free version in a freemium model. (Less is better.)
Data sovereignty Who owns your data? Your files on your PC. (Sovereignty - you control the files - is better.)

Revision Notes

  • version control:
  • 2023-01-19: added 'Confidence'