Analyzing the Usability of an Argumentation Map as a Participatory Spatial Decision Support Tool

By Sidlar, Christopher L.; Rinner, Claus | URISA Journal, January 2007 | Go to article overview

Analyzing the Usability of an Argumentation Map as a Participatory Spatial Decision Support Tool


Sidlar, Christopher L., Rinner, Claus, URISA Journal


INTRODUCTION

The Argumentation Map (Argumap) concept was proposed by Rinner (1999, 2001) to support planning processes by facilitating distributed, asynchronous discussions. Argumaps are based on the combination of an online discussion forum and an online geographic information system (GIS) component. Argumaps were conceived as a method to formalize debates that have geospatial elements in the discussion. Because of their distributed nature, Argumaps benefit from a number of characteristics of the Internet, for example the ability to share information with many stakeholders (Laurini 2004) and the anonymity provided in online discussions (Kingston et al. 1999).

Kessler (2004) implemented an Argumentation Map prototype as a proof of concept. This Web-based prototype integrates a discussion forum and a simple mapping tool. Technology used in the implementation includes the GeoTools Lite mapping tool kit, a custom-built Java applet for the discussion forum, the MySQL database for storage of geographically referenced discussion contributions, and the University of Minnesota MapServer for the supply of background map layers. Kessler chose these open-source software tools on the grounds that they fulfilled the requirements for the Argumap concept set out by Rinner (1999) and that they minimized development costs.

The functionality of the prototype includes map navigation (zoom in/out, pan, zoom to full extent), layer management (switching layers on and off), and display of map labels (e.g., building names). In the discussion forum, contributions are displayed by their subjects, authors, and dates in lists with indentations by discussion threads, and the body of a selected contribution is displayed in a text window. When a contribution is selected in the forum, its geographic references will be highlighted on the map. Likewise, when a map object is selected, all discussion contributions referring to this object will be highlighted in the forum. The Argumap prototype also provides a full-text search tool for the discussion forum and summary statistics when browsing the map (number of contributions per map object). Finally, in terms of participation in georeferenced debates, the tool offers a log-in feature that enables the user to start a new discussion thread or respond to existing contributions. When editing a message, a set of geographic references can be specified in the map and is stored together with the text of the message. The functionality and architecture of the prototype is summarized in further detail by Kessler et al. (2005).

The stakeholders in planning processes usually are heterogeneous groups with a variety of knowledge and skill levels (Healey 1997, Simao and Densham 2004). Because of the wide range of possible users, any planning support system must be designed in such a way that all are able to learn to use the majority of its functions. This introduces a motivation for a usability analysis for the Argumap prototype.

This paper provides a framework for usability analysis for participatory spatial decision support tools such as Argumaps and describes a case study. We investigated how Kessler's (2004) prototype was understood and used by a heterogeneous participant population. The following sections describe the research background, methodology, as well as the preparation and results of the case study. Conclusions are then drawn in the form of recommendations for improving the Argumap prototype. While these recommendations are specific to the software tool being analyzed, this research also provides an example for conducting usability analyses for participatory GIS tools in general.

APPROACHES TO SOFTWARE USABILITY ANALYSIS

"Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is concerned with the design of computer systems that are safe, efficient, easy and enjoyable to use as well as functional" (Preece 1993, 11). As long as there have been computers, their developers have been concerned with how the machine and its software will be used. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Analyzing the Usability of an Argumentation Map as a Participatory Spatial Decision Support Tool
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.