Digital Continuity

1738822.jpg

nature-2-rough.jpg

ABOVE: Nature-2 (rough).jpg @ 50% (Gray)
BELOW: Untitled-1 @ 33.3% (Layer 4, Gray)

Both by Bruce MacPherson, work-in-progress sketches for the MathFactory, for Gallagher & Associates Design Proposal

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Below is the introduction from Time & Bits, Managing Digital Continuity edited by Margaret MacLean and Ben H. Davis, an eternity ago in 1998 for the Getty Research Institute.  The Getty Research Institute is dedicated to furthering knowledge and understanding of the visual arts and aesthetic appreciation through the advancement of long term digital preservation and information exchange techniques to protect our common cultural inheritance.  The book is about an early workshop pondering over new problems with obsolete media and machines impact on the cycle of: capturing, preserving, distributing, representing, and unlocking a real understanding of the meaning of stored data. See the Long Now Foundation Projects for follow on work such as the Rosetta Project.

gettyfigure1.jpg

Workshop Figure 1

This was a very unhappy interface. And small wonder. No doubt this entire virtual environment was being encrypted, decrypted, reencrypted, anonymously routed through satellites and cables, emulated on alien machinery through ill-fitting, out-of-date protocols, then displayed through long-dead graphic standards.  Dismembered, piped, compressed, packeted, unpacketed, decompressed, unpiped and re-membered.  Worse yet, the place was old.  Virtual buildings didn’t age like physical ones but they aged in subtle pathways of arcane decline, in much the way that their owner’s did.

Bruce Sterling, in Holy Fire. Science fiction writer and founder of the Dead Media Project.

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Workshop Figure 2

Below from the article Storage Knowledge by Doug Carlston, page 28 Time & Bits: Managing Digital Continuity

- process information is everywhere and, with increasing frequency, it will not be possible to perceive the full expression of the content-creator’s intent if the ability to perceive the process information is lost.

Imagine, if you will, that we are talking about process content that represents the instructions for building a virtual space and populating it with still and animated images tied to sounds.  Even if one could disambiguate the various data forms and figure out what was image, what was sound, and what was descriptive code, the author’s expression is virtually impossible to deduce absent its interpretation via his original processing device.  If in the future it becomes common to create digital wire models of complex inventions and other devices in lieu of written words, we will have an entire body of obviously important process data held hostage to its original interpretation device.

Perhaps in these areas we just have to give it time.  We do seem to have some movement towards standards, numerical bits have been translated in a reasonably consistent way into numerals and letters of the Roman alphabet (and others), a necessary first step toward a process Rosetta Stone.  And there appears to be a compelling universal interest in standardizing the operating systems and chief applications of commonly available computers, although these standards themselves continue to evolve at a hazardous rate.  Perhaps this process will not continue indefinitely, in which case we are confronting merely an interim problem while the universal standards are finally worked out.

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All of this was written before the explosion of the semantic web, online services, and the large scale development of open standards.  Nevertheless, many early concerns raised at the Time & Bits workshop are still valid.  The documentation of places and buildings together with the public information they generate has only just begun.  When will the process information be mature and standardized enough to tell the story of all these people and places over long periods of time?  There are many arguments on OntologForum regarding the utility, accuracy, and even the possibility of universal standards for such large scale processing. Like buildings in the real world, some digital architectures are better than others, some data deserve to be taken better care of and

“there is no constituency representing that body of information”

Margeret MacLean, Setting the Stage, page 33 in Time & Bits: Managing Digital Continuity.

3 images below are from the central garden at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. You can go anywhere, touch anything, get led in directions you want to go anyway, and have tremendous vistas open up around unexpected angles.  There are curves and corners. Only the best materials are used and they are taken care of.  The combination is gorgeous together.  This level of spatial design, execution, and maintenance is needed for an equivalent level of high quality, long term, takes-forever-to-build, semantic web spaces made expressly for the general public.

getty_center_central_garden.jpg

File: Getty Center Central Gardens Wiki Commons

gettygarden.jpg

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/1738822

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Companion Post: Trace Continuous Threads

red2.jpg

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What Does That Line Mean?

Architectural drawings contain graphical information explained in more detail in the specifications. For example, waterproofing is just a line on the drawings designated “WP” but up to 50 pages in the specifications.  Specifications became necessary when buildings got more complex, the entirety of the intended work results could not be captured in drawings without the drawings becoming too cluttered. As a result  architects sometimes ask “What does that line mean?”.

Lines

from 2D Visualization of Electrical Fields of Point Charges around a Dielectric Interface at Vizlab

If lines of inquiry could be traced through semantic space for example in ShiftSpace, these lines would get very complicated. See BLDGBLOG too. Tracing lines of inquiry would be a whole new form of drawing and wondering what simple lines mean, more details and the work results would have to be explained in specifications separate from the drawings.

Below are a set of citations for images and papers collected around 2001, wondering about these shapes. Each example below has varying levels of documentation. This is an experiment to see what is still available. Most are not. Some are in new places than they were originally found but its still the same images and information.  Open source images have found many more uses. The remainder is a survey of scientific and artistic approaches to showing dynamics and tracing histories.

CoffeeMill

The Coffee Mill , by Juan Gris, 1916, Original: oil and collage on paper, 10 9/16” x 8 7/8”, Provenance: Henriette Reverdy, Paris; Pierre Chareau, Paris; E.V. Thaw & Co., New York; Herbert and Nannette Rothschild, Judith Rothschild Foundation, New York, from the book Encounters with Modern Art: The Reminiscences of Nannette F. Rothschild, George H. Marcus Editor and Anne D’Harnoncourt, Philadelphia Museum of Art; ISBN: 0876331088; 1997. Image is now available at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

 collage of forms

DMacP Collage of Forms some below

seashell

Cross section of nautilus shell from the Patterns of Nature Disk Image KS1724 Comstock, Royalty Free

hurricane

Hurricane: N-009-0110 Corbis Royalty Free at Matton Images

galaxy

Galaxy: SC-086-0109 by Myron J. Dorf Bridges. Now available at ???????

What Lies Between Order and Chaos? by James P. Crutchfield, The Sciences, New York Academy of Sciences, New York (1994), Santa Fe Institute.

“The events happen far too quickly (over 10^-23 to, at the most lackadaisical, 10^-10, seconds) and in too small a region (on the order of 10^-18 meters) for human perception.”

“We’re maximally uncertain about the weather: we keep looking out the window for an update and are constantly surprised; the entropy rate is high.”

IMG5291.jpg

Theoretical Morphology: State of the Art, by Gunther J. Eble, Santa Fe Institute Working Papers

Sturgeon’s Law states that “ninety percent of everything is crap.” from One Thing or Another: Some Examples of Selection in Minds and Computers, A.K.A. “William James at CERN”, by Cosma Shalizi

SFI007

Legar

Nude on a Red Background (Seated Woman), by Fernand Leger, 1927, Original: oil on canvas, 51 1/4” x 32”, Gift of the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1972, 72.173, from the book Hirshhorn: Museum and Sculpture Garden, Jane McAllister Editor, Harry N. Abrams; ISBN: 0810934363; 1996.

leonardo

Vitruvius, by Leonardo da Vinci, available everywhere, this copy from the British Library learning about bodies.

vermillion

Asymmetrical rocks, Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, G81-161783 Cannot be found. Image above from jmg galleries.

“…semantic leaps in jokes, arguments, counterfactuals, and analogies”
Turning the Cat on its Head, by Nikos Drakos, Computer Based Learning Unit, University of Leeds, from the web site of Seana Coulson, University of California, San Diego, Department of Cognitive Science“…until at last we reach our perceptions, grouped together by another process of selection into things. Some of these we attend to; the rest we ignore.”

“…studies indicate that there is a certain level of visual and acoustic complexity that tends to be most pleasing to the human senses.” Holding a New Mirror to Nature, The Economist, 6 November1993

periodictable

 

The Periodic Table of Poetry, now at MAKE

“…literature, pictures and sound and movies can all be turned into strings of bits. Once we have a measure of fitness, there is no a priori reason we could not turn standard techniques loose on an initial population of pictures, or sonatas, or sonnets. There are even techniques, outlined at least by Holland, which will allow our system to modify the means it uses to evaluate fitness. In particular, rather than mutating and recombining essentially random lengths of bits, they system could come to recognize that certain blocks of bits are meaningfully connected. It also does not seem impossible, or even terribly difficult, to modify the standard techniques of genetic programming so as to work directly on two-dimensional or three-dimensional objects.” Genetic Algorithms for Art by Cosma Shalizi

math

Mathematical Equations on Chalkboard, by Steve Cole AA011042  at Getty Images now at Diomedia

num

“Fun” by Condensed Matter Research with Neutrons and Muons (NuM) at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI)

But architects also ask, what is this space represented by lines and specifications really made of?

SFI11

The Light Inside, by James Turrell, 1999, Original: electric lights, wires, metal and paint, Museum of Fine Arts Houston Texas, from Modern Painters Magazine, Winter 2001

Seminar Hall in the Museum for African Art , by Maya Lin, New York City, 1992-93, Associated Architect, David Hotson, from Boundaries, Simon and Schuster; ISBN: 0684834170; 2000.

Stainless Steel Mesh, Design 9, Lumsden Custom Mesh, 1-800-367-3664
Classic Travertine, Vein Cut, Unfilled and Honed, Stone Source, 202-265-5900
Clear Satin on Cherry, 20A, David Edwards Furniture Company, 410-242-2222
Wrought Iron, Benjamin Moore, 2124-10
Clear Natural Riverstone, Artistic Tile, NY 212-727-9331
Glass, AR 105, by Skyline Design, 773-278-4660
Gel, BTG 150 Starke 9mmm kein Farbmuster Peer Almute, Smooth, 800-433-7337
Platinum, by Ben Park

 

See the actual buildings of
The National Gallery of Modern Art, India
National Museum of Modern Art, Japan, 3rd floor Special Corner
National Gallery of Australia
(more…)

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This is a Test

this is test

[237] This

[57] is

[357] a test.

Above are 3 definitions and 3 purple number locations for words in the phrase “This is a test.” Today, there is a wide selection of dictionaries to define what words mean, most public sources are correct enough to serve most users goals. However, as soon as the work only applies to a specific knowledge domain or line of inquiry, the meaning of words must be more precise. In these cases, precise locations within dictionaries and semantic structures are more beneficial than definitions ~ which meaning of the words “this” “is” and “test”? Some knowledge domains, like biotechnology, are way ahead of everyone else developing their own controlled vocabularies, thesaurus, taxonomies and similar. How could these scientific pursuits and careful documentation efforts be extended and applied to artists? storytellers? musicians?

If an interlinked data structure was made for every word that had ever been uttered, common words for common uses would not need to be redefined again at each source. Over time, words that originate in certain areas of expertise might eventually branch out into other areas and have many slight variations in meaning in another area. A simple word could get very complex very quickly.

There are too many badly drawn, clunky looking charts and diagrams about semantic structure designs, it is impossible to choose which ones are the worst.

If the task at hand is to examine or work with the semantic structures themselves, more time and effort should be spent working with forms that are more fluid and beautiful, like language and word meaning.

ExponentialEricHeller

 

Exponential by Eric Heller

trail

ShiftSpace Trail

Trail Proposal: This is a Test

Top Layer (orange, two parallel lines like regular trails above)
[237] This
[57] is
[357] a test.

Next Layer (cyan, single arcs)

This:
ShiftSpace
ThisAmericanLife
ThisModernWorld
FigureThis
DiggThis

is:
JAVA
SaveThisPage
Blaise Aguera y Arcas: Jaw-dropping Photosynth demo
HTML
OWL
UML
BSBG
Eclipse
XML_1
XML_2

Test:
ASTM
NIST
OGC
OMG
IFC

Merge Layer (thin white circles and ellipses trapping elements from various layers together)
Seeking film clip from the Deer Hunter where Robert De Niro is saying “This is This, it is not something else”


 

 

(more…)

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Trace Continuous Threads

dance pattern IssacPastoral

Yang’ge Dance Patterns and The Pastoral Dance Pattern by Mr. Isaac

The diagrams above show dance patterns. Its easy to imagine how these shapes and places to put your feet could be drawn on a floor for dancers to follow. Experienced dancers could probably just look at the diagram and recreate the movements.

By contrast, its more difficult to imagine how dynamic movement of information could be diagrammed to be followed and recreated by others. Below are examples of a cellular automata pattern about Emerging Complexity by Stephen Wolfram, LLC.

This image confuses Photoshop because pixels and colors are more continuous than they seem. There are actually very few boundaries or stopping points. The flow is constrained to limited dimensions with all elements are moving in the same direction.

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If working with this pattern was like preparing a set of building specifications – the first step is starting with everything possible. There are patterns which are unseen here before dimensions are constrained. First, a process of elimination to look at only parts. Then working with each part. Some parts may be the exact same on several levels. They can be picked up, inserted, repeated and slightly modified to fit within the set of working information. Tracing paths through working sets and patterns could be a really fun mathematics and art problem.

Finding Continuous Threads

1 – Light Blue – finding the fastest way through.

2 – Orange – trying to cut across horizontally by inferring a line. Started looking for configurations with a sharp tip and two vertical lines going straight down on both sides.

purple.jpg

3 – Purple – noticed some of the orange shapes had a strong spine of exactly repeating shapes in chains of varying lengths.

4 – Blue – noticed some chains were independent from the ones colored orange in the red pencil shapes.

5 – Light Green – easier to see by itself with trails above filled in.

Depending on what you are looking for, there are lots of ways to find and isolate repeated elements and trace continuous threads in seemingly disconnected, parallel tracks. If the patterns themselves could be worked on to push the information around in the first place…

computer placement

Sketch to figure it out, automatic placement by the computer of 2 unlike scales, some angles still align.

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Based On

Crutchfield

Image collage presented to Jim Crutchfield at Santa Fe Institute and the Art and Science Laboratory in 2004. The black and white backgrounds are evolving cellular automata patterns, the blue lines were added to trace continuous threads.

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People Can’t Find Things

Offices, organizations, and knowledge domains produce so much useful information. People who are learning about an office, organization, or area of knowledge need best practice notes, standard details, and lessons-learned to be super easy to look through.

When people do not know what things are called to input a specific term, it is difficult for machines to help sort through all the good ideas and information generated before. Perhaps a better geometry is needed to link together and organize records in such a way that people are led, by machines, to only information that is relevant to their skill level, language, and task at hand, rather than endless lists of everything under the sun.

conformal mapping

 

Conformal Mapping 1/(z*z) by fdecomite

2

 

Octagonal Star Pattern, a work in progress v.1 by EricGjerde

4

 

Even More Strange Things I Found by vegelony

 

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Math Sculpture Closeup by sfopanda

5

 

Torley Finds the Strangest Things by Dedric.Mauriac

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