What is a topic in Catenda?
Sjaak Velthoven avatar
Written by Sjaak Velthoven
Updated over a week ago

The basis of anything that is done no matter what it is is communication.

Without communication great things can be done but no-one will know about it.

In Catenda this communication takes the form of a topic.

Topics are a record of some communication that has happened.

Physical communication

The most memorable form of communication will always be physical communication. There are some nuances like facial expression and body movements that you cannot get any other way.

Drawbacks of in-person communication

Not only is it not always possible to communicate in person, the longer we go without recording the conversation somewhere physical the more likely it is that the account of any of the people part of the communication will forget parts of what happened.

Recording communication

Originally how this was solved was by writing down information by hand with pen and paper. This too has its drawbacks as there can be problems with equipment, like ink, writing devices or paper.

Even if everything goes well and the communication is recorded physically there is the question of its authenticity.

Drawbacks of physically recorded communication

How can you tell who wrote it? Perhaps you can see a person's handwriting, but this can be faked.

Communication history

When was this communication recorded?

Perhaps you could carbon date the ink and the paper but not everyone has access to this technology. The record can also have been altered over time which you might find out from a different color ink or texture on paper addendum but this is nothing to be trusted.


Which piece of paper had the communication had the information you were looking for?

Sifting through records of conversations has also historically been a problem as these pieces of paper start to add up over time.


Where is the piece of paper located?

This is often a question of security but also a question of maintenance. What good does it do if we record things just to loose the record due to negligence of storage or loose access due to the physical document being far from our location?

Digital communication

And so many of us have moved on to recording things digitally. The typical form of communication that many of us are used to today is via email or chat message.

This already addresses a big chunk of the drawbacks of physical paper as you can imagine.


Private messaging like email or chat messages work great one-to-one but as soon as some more people start to get involved you start running into problems.

Imagine a group chat with everyone in the construction project talking at the same time. Not only would it be impossible to keep up with everything but important conversations can get lost in the flow of information.


The same can be observed for email conversations.

I am sure many of you have been part of a long email Thread with people moving in and out and reply on reply on reply with many people on cc while only two people needed to be part of this conversation.

One problem with this is that when a message is sent to a group of people none of the recipients feels personally responsible for replying to this conversation.

Flow of information

It can also be uncomfortable to reply as you want everyone to have access to the record of your response but do not necessarily want to "reply all" and notify everyone that is part of the email chain.

What is a topic?

Finally we arrive at Catenda Topics.

Topics aim to keep track of all the communication that happens in a construction project.

One bit of communication can be recorded in one topic.

  • History - You can find the date of when a topic was recorded and amended.

  • Searchability - Text in topics can be searched and labels can be applied to find the vital piece of communication that you are looking for

  • Availability - If the project is set up right, the right people always have access to the right information from anywhere with an internet connection (Even without one!)

  • Overview - Topics can be divided in different topic boards to keep one flow of conversation separate from another.

  • Responsibility - Topics can be assigned to people to create a sense of who is responsible to tackle each bit of conversation

  • Flow of information - While everyone who has access to the the topic will be notified when it is first created you can make sure the right set of people notified about progress on a topic.

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