Note: Oneslate is experimental software. Implementation of the self-service cloud or other services are recommended on a trial basis to determine what the Oneslate application can do for projects, individuals, teams, departments, or organizations.

Design intent

The Oneslate application is designed to generally enable improved goal achievement through error reduction in decision making. Its focus is on decisions which cannot be automated using traditional business intelligence tools.

Oneslate's development was provoked by the open opportunity to address a number of common error sources which had been identified as existing, but for which no realistic solutions had been made available.


A number of related problems whose individual solutions seem elusive may be partially addressable together in a software application to be used in suitable situations. Oneslate may be used to attempt the following:

  1. Help information overload to be overcome.
  2. Help anthropic bias (observation selection effects) to be overcome.
  3. Help common cognitive biases to be identified and mitigated.
  4. Help common sense to be found in tricky scenarios.
  5. Help knowledge leakage to be reduced.
  6. Help the tapping of cognitive surpluses.
  7. Help establish stronger corporate sustainability.

What capabilities does Oneslate incorporate? The core functionality is as follows:

  1. Add and search ideas.
  2. Encode and navigate the structure of ideas.
    1. Relate ideas to many supports and many conclusions.
    2. Include the same exact idea in many contexts.
    3. Associate any ideas with any other ones in the same knowledge base.
    4. Discover all contexts in which an idea occurs.
  3. Heatmap and update idea ratings on a 5-bin scale.
    1. I know I know this.
    2. I think I know this.
    3. I do not know this.
    4. I think I know this is not.
    5. I know this is not.
  4. Unobtrusively check for and log cognitive biases contextually.

"Personal knowledge base" (Davies, 2011) and "knowledge workshop" (Engelbart, 1972) are perhaps the most fitting terms from the literature to describe a system with the above functionality. While a small number of other available systems come close to accommodating the required functionality, they are too complicated for general use and require either facilitation or an uncommon inclination to learn to use and then apply them.

Some additional capabilties of the Oneslate system include the following functionality:

  1. Work with knowledge graphs in the comfort of mainly dealing with tree sections.
  2. Add sources to ideas; autosuggest sources to reuse them in multiple places.
  3. Maintain private compartmentalized knowledge bases with guest access provisioning.
  4. Embed linked media and document links.
  5. Use any modern web browser to interface with the database driven application hosted in the cloud or locally in a virtual machine.

There are some notable comments from the literature upon which the Oneslate system can be reflected, as follows:

Decisions and goals

How is Oneslate designed to provide for improved goal achievement? It assumes that firms have goals, which may be achieveable through decisions necessarily made by executives, managers, or professionals. Where tools can be applied help to reduce error in decisions, goal achievement should be improvable.

According to Simon (1960), the decision process includes the following phases:

  1. Intelligence (searching the environment for decision making conditions),
  2. Design (inventing, developing, and analyzing possible actions),
  3. Choice (selecting from the available actions), and
  4. Review (assessing prior choices).

Oneslate may be able to enhance each of these decision phases at the appropriate moments.

Errors and bias mitigation

Humans make errors as the result of a number of conditions (resource limitations, tool limitations, observation selection effects, sensory limitations, and other sources of cognitive bias). Much suboptimal decision-making comes from inadequate alternative consideration. A major cause of inadequate alternative consideration discussed by Bostrom (2002) can be "observation selection effects" or "anthropic bias", which might be called simply insufficient sampling or impossible sampling requirements. The intermediary results of suboptimal decision processes can be, compared to an ideal case, a lack of knowledge access or lack of learning from experience, repetitive suboptimal decision-making, or the metaphoric reinventing of the wheel. Hard to avoid intermediate errors can result in inefficiencies in the achievement of higher level goals. Some specific problem sources and how they are addressed in the Oneslate application are outlined below:

Error sources and mitigation methods implemented in Oneslate
Limited resource Problem description Error mitigation method
alternative awareness Limited alternative consideration (observation selection; imperfect sampling; "anthropic bias") is a major cause of suboptimal decision making. Have a knowledge repository where alternatives can be efficiently built over time as deemed important and discovered in all relevant contexts.
working memory People have limited working memories, generally able to follow five to nine things at once (Miller, 1956). Enable creation of visible, non-linear mental model representations of important information on an ongoing basis as needed that can be accessed in a highly focused manner to present only and all available related information in relevant contexts.
bias awareness Cognitive biases are rampant in people. Permit the unobtrusive identification and contextual tracking of identified cognitive biases (e.g., in situations of changing validity assessments).
knowledge capture Knowledge leakage is a real problem for organizations. Enable efficient capture of structured knowledge.
critical thinking skills College graduates are under-equipped in critical thinking skills. Deploy tools supportive of a process (e.g., Computer Aided Argument Mapping) shown to potentially improve critical thinking skills better than traditional methods.
workplace satisfaction Office workers exhibit workplace dissatisfaction at alarmingly high rates in the US (Gallup, 2013). Provide a suitable outlet for otherwise trapped insights and expression.
cognitive outlet There is a significant cognitive surplus in people. Have a space that physically enables contribution through focusing on new and growing out related concepts.
knowledge dissemination and handling ability It is not feasible for much knowledge to be very widely disseminated or handled. Utilize a usable "real hypertext" knowledge base tool that matches knowledge input and display scenarios to only those relevant.
methods for handling wicked problems Some complex problems are not understood until solution formulation and require unique, one-shot solutions that are neither right or wrong, and have no given alternatives. Utilized a tool which supports a notation identified as appropriate for wicked problems, such as Issue Based Information Systems, and which is usable in non-facilitated scenarios.
consensus awareness and utility Consensuses can be highly undervalued, next to impossible to ascertain, and dynamic. Use a knowledge base system in which everything is a rolling 5-bin poll with instantaneous and trending consensus breakdown displays.
Bayesian tendencies Bayesian updating is not widely habitual. Provide context for Bayesian updating with an appropriate scaffold.

How it works

The Oneslate application functions by offering a generalized interface for mental model capture, review, and updating. Its idea space visualization capabilities are intended to offer the flexibility and simplicity required for utility. With the right tool, you can efficiently interact directly with the idea structures that matter to the decision-related tasks at hand, in a repository serving as a living knowledge base.

In Oneslate, individual ideas can be pieces of text, or embedded linked media or documents. In Oneslate, ideas related to other ideas can be connected as causal supports or conclusions, and the same idea can occur in many places with all of its connected ideas discoverable. In Oneslate, the updateable assessed validities of ideas can be encoded as a color or intensity on the representations of those ideas. And in Oneslate, rating changes prompt an optional bias survey.

How can you tell if a new idea space visualization tool is worthwhile in a situation? Determine the metric that reflects the goal that your function is helping to achieve. On a trial basis, deploy the new idea space visualization tool, and see what result is reflected in your metric of choice.

Works cited

A number of people have produced texts providing background information relevant to the Oneslate application and its functionality. The following texts are referenced above, and most of them are available online:

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