As part of arriving at successful outcomes, knowledge workers often become highly skilled at thinking through potential approaches before pursuing a chosen trajectory. They may make explicit efforts to keep track of their various predictions and lines of thinking as they accomplish their efforts. Or they may circumstantially reflect back after some interval of time, reconstructing their pathways through an examination of their memories and the external artifacts of their actions.
Interactive applications can allow knowledge workers to externally test scenarios and react to their outcomes without committing to permanent action. Trusted computing tools can accurately store and dynamically revert to certain points within the progressions of onscreen views that flow from workers’ explorations — often in greater detail than individuals can mentally visualize in their own recollections.
By removing these memory burdens and providing such externalized flexibility — outside of workers’ own heads — applications can supplement users’ top down thinking about their problems with rapid, free experimentation and serendipitous, chance operations. In some specialized activities, interactive simulations based on domain specific rules and information representations can transform slow and effortful practices into fluid sandboxes for thinking work.
In addition to supporting workers’ exploration of outcomes, the creation and storage of interactive historical trails can be valuable for cooperative and collaborative work, recovery from errors in work practice, and evaluation of major incidents.
This category contains 4 of the 100 application envisioning ideas in this book:
H1. Active versioning
H2. Extensive and reconstructive undo
H3. Interaction object or function history
H4. Working annotations
Product teams can use these ideas to explore functionality concepts for supporting, or effectively extending, workers’ abilities to consider potential outcomes and retrace their interactions. Ideation focused around such support can help teams uncover innovative opportunities to effectively externalize otherwise internal work practices, potentially allowing for more creative, higher quality knowledge work outputs.
The central notion of this category is most closely related to the “Exploring work mediation and determining scope” (A), “Considering workers’ attentions” (D), “Providing opportunities to offload effort” (E), and “Working with volumes of information” (I) categories.
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