The HyLighter Idea
Sharing diverse perspectives on as much relevant information as a team or organization can gather is a proven antidote to flawed decisions. Yet, every enterprise has collaboration problems around managing and sharing documents, especially for large, dispersed groups faced with enormous quantities of unstructured data. HyLighter amplifies human and machine intelligence to provide an adaptable and scalable solution to this multi-dimensional collaboration problem.
HyLighter is a browser-based collaboration platform that has four main components:
- A social annotation engine for interactive and thoughtful discussions and deliberation within and between related documents (i.e., HyLighter solves the problem of making sense of information spread across multiple documents whereas products such as MS Office, GoogleDocs, and many others focus on moving a document through an editorial workflow).
- A reporting and analytics application for real time access to the thinking of all users and integration with business and military intelligence systems to better tap big data.
- A visual analytics application for representing the collective visualization of unstructured data extracted from the HyLighter annotation layer.
- APIs for plugging in to other applications such as SharePoint and other content management and learning management systems.
- SharePoint adoption is soaring, social media is hot, and big data analytics is “the next big thing.” Yet, many companies are still looking for solutions to two basic problems that HyLighter solves: (a) how to engage larger groups in deliberations within and between documents and (b) how to enable well-coordinated, richly interactive teamwork focused on making sense of information spread across multiple documents and file types.
- Current collaborative authoring and review products such as MS Office 2010, GoogleDocs, Adobe Acrobat, and wikis make modifying content easy but sharing thoughts before changes occur hard, especially as the number of reviewers increases.
- Similarly, the latest CMSs (e.g., SharePoint 2010) do many things well that are related to managing and controlling collaboration. However, they do little to improve collaboration inside the files stored within their libraries.
- Recently, the analysis of “big data,” especially involving unstructured data types, has received broad attention. New platforms for advanced analytics such as Autonomy Idol 10 and IBM Smart Analytics perform automatic linking of related pieces of information and automatic categorization of concepts found within unstructured data sources. However, machine intelligence cannot entirely replace human intelligence in the face of ill-formulated and ill-structured real-world problems. In fact, many of the most vexing problems that we face today have any number of possible explanations and solutions but no definitive test to determine the "best" or most effective response.
- In fact, the collaboration problem itself is just such an ill-formulated or “wicked” problem that has no one right answer for every situation. The best that we can hope for is an adaptable solution that amplifies human and machine intelligence to improve practices and outcomes of distributed sensemaking activities.
The HyLighter Solution
- Represents a new category of software for collaboration involving documents. It is the first-in-class distributed sensemaking system for deeply engaging groups of any size with a single document or large collections to help generate new knowledge, enhance decision making, accelerate learning, and provide an accumulating source of rich analytics.
- Extends the capacity of the document as a medium for the social construction of meaning by enabling group members to highlight, comment on, tag, discuss, link, filter, organize, and synthesize selected fragments and related input from multiple contributors across multiple sources and file types.
- Makes the thinking of users that is ordinarily hidden, become transparent and easily accessible as a layer of social annotation distributed across multiple documents and stored in a continuously updated relational database.
- Makes unstructured data more machine addressable (e.g., gives freeform text and images some of the characteristics of numbers) by appending various types of meta-content (i.e., content about content) and metadata (i.e., data about data) to selected fragments spread across multiple documents and various file types.
- Retains a record of thinking that is available for future work and as a unique source of rich analytics (e.g., for expertise location and trend analysis).
- Helps individuals and teams develop deep conceptual understanding and the type of flexible knowledge required for innovative solutions to complex problems.
- Engages users in practices that improve performance and accelerate learning.
In this age of information overload, HyLighter brings individuals together with different perspectives in highly interactive and mutually beneficial collaborative information seeking and filtering processes to find the most effective responses to difficult problems.