Category Archives: Design

Online Education and Digital Storytelling

Mercedes Bell, a researcher for onlineuniversities.com, shared an article The Art of Digital Storytelling.

The article makes several good points and provides numerous examples graphed below. When digital storytelling is used for education, a new challenge today is keeping the reader engaged, without clicking away, wandering through so many loosely related topics, its easy to get lost, and forget where a digital pathway started, or where it is heading.

The objective of digital storytelling, online education, large scale digitization and information projects needs to be spending more time with better information.

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Places & Spaces Mapping Science Workshop

Katy Borner organized a workshop for the Places & Spaces Mapping Science Advisory Board. We met for two days at the School of Library and Information Sciences to figure out the remaining iterations of the 10 year exhibit. See the Schedule and try to visit an exhibit in person, or order the Atlas of Science to read at your leisure. Pictures from the brainstorming session belowBonnie DeVarco, Michael Stamper, and Vincent Lariviere

Kevin Boyack, Deb MacPherson, Andre Skupin, Peter Hook

Bonnie DeVarco, Stephen Uzzo, Michael Stamper

 

Katy Borner, Kevin Boyack, Debbie MacPherson, Andre Skupin

Kevin Boyack, Bonnie DeVarco, Debbie MacPherson

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Taking Apart and Putting Back Together in a Repeatable Process

The greatest thing about relational databases is they store everything loose in some kind of homogeneous level playing field. It is only be establishing relationships between data that anyone is able to see anything in context. Without context, they are just data. In context they are messages, thoughts, ideas, studies, results, and work products.

If an idea is very complex sometimes it helps to break it down into component parts. Systematically taking it apart to understand what makes this idea tick.

DesignIT Studios

Starship ModelerWikicommons Watch Movement

Taking an idea apart can be very informative. Especially when various parts need to be updated and optimized, continually changing like software releases. If the watch above was wordpress, the Swift theme, and the internet each gear changes sooner or later but the whole watch still needs to work together if it is to continue functioning.  Putting things back together offers it’s own set of challenges.  There is an opportunity to purge elements that are no longer useful during this process. Like a hoarder moving everything out of their house onto the curb then back into the house, maybe some of those items are not worth saving after all. Or fixing a car engine, or someones medical condition, when it is unclear exactly what the problem is but simply by taking it apart and putting it back together, whatever was not working gets repaired.

IDSA Materials and Processes Section

Instructions are needed, parts need to be labeled. A sequence of reassembly is needed to ensure the reassembled whole still is the same. It can be difficult to see how the parts fit together when viewed too close.

Carol Padburg

Because everyone’s perception and experience is different, the exact same elements, in almost exactly the same combination may be understood a different way from different points of view. The receiving end may be “reading something into” what the sender intended. It may not be possible for two different people to consistently see the same things the same ways.

Put Back Together Pictures

However, this is not true for machines like computers or networks like the internet because machines have no prejudices, emotions, or previous experiences.  They simply process the information, break up whole ideas into packets, send them somewhere, another machine puts them back together. For this to be reliable everything on both ends needs to be a repeatable process. It would be so helpful to have a mold with the end result packed in with every packet to ensure consistency. MIT has just started a project to map controversies that may be useful to understand multiple interpretations of the same information.


MIT Mapping Controversies Project

This project is important today because we are surrounded by so many controversies, and so much data, it’s difficult to sort out which parts are actually valid, worth processing, keeping in the information houses where we store things. For example the Washington Post had an article today about the disconnect between science and the general public entitled “Not Blinded by Science, but Ideology” where global warming is a perfect example.

To avoid using information the wrong way, or putting together messages, thoughts, and ideas that may be different than original authors intended, especially while processing the data in emotionless machines – repeatable processes are needed.

BZen Consulting

Info-Sight Partners Actionability Index

Global Wonderware

Today the primary representation of how pieces of information are to be put back together need to work with SQL. Looking at the relationships is usually just miles and miles of code. However, there is a company at http://mkweb.bcgsc.ca who makes Schemaball, a Schema Viewer for SQL Databases where the relationships themselves can be put under a microscope and examined across the whole database in one glance.

It’s curious why geometry proper is not used more often to direct the arc, layouts and relationships. Something like a mold could be useful to ensure the reassembly is 100 percent correct on the receiving end, to match exactly, what the sender intended.

Smooth-On.com

But how would you store and encode that geometry?

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Emergent versus Imposed Boundaries

When organizing large quantities of resources and information in the digital world… putting things into groups, determining what goes where and assigning boundaries, it can be helpful to look at the real world for lessons learned.  Imposing boundaries in unnatural locations is bound to fail sooner or later, the results can be disastrous taking generations to overcome.

Take for example Southern Africa. Oceans, mountains, deserts, vegetation and other natural features determined where people lived and worked.

 

Physical Geography and Natural Vegetation
from Exploring Africa at Michigan State University 

Over time, people settled in various areas surrounded by their culture. Learning the best ways to be productive based on the conditions in their area – whether it was a jungle with vast resources or a desert with very few. 

From Africa Expat

Ancient people such as the Shona in modern day Zimbabwe congregated and stuck together in different areas.  Many of these languages and traditions continue today. But these curving, natural, and emergent boundaries don’t match boundaries imposed from outside cultures.

From Wikimedia Commons

Occasionally, an imposed boundary may coincide with a natural boundary such as a river.  More often though, imposed boundaries are designed to work within larger more global schemes, without paying enough attention to the local impact.

From Wikimedia Commons

Anyone can see where arbitrarily drawing lines has gotten us today.  What can be learned from history to avoid similar situations in the fresh, clean, brand new digital world where ideas and information are still patterning out and have no where in particular to belong except where they are emerging as “next to something else” or arranged for convenient, all encompassing, upper level views

Linked Open Data, Colored, as of March 2009

What about situations where digital terrain and intellectual data boundaries are being purposefully laid out. For example Master Web of Science, mapofscience.com and Places & Spaces where navigating the data is like exploring uncharted territory, and Katy Borner and collaborators seek to enable the discovery of new worlds while also marking territories inhabited by unknown monsters.


The difference in the semantic world versus the physical world should be that the digital world has no constraints like rivers or mountains. Eventually all of the layout can be determined.  Attention does need to be paid to where cultures are emerging, and how this can benefit everyone both globally and locally.

 Not only watch how the semantic web is emerging, but to direct it’s flow in productive ways, geared for people in different areas that may vary widely in their density and resources, rather than as one empire. Because that only causes trouble in the long run.

Layout Algorithm, NYU

Data Mining at Information and Visualization

Random Layout Algorithm at Cell System Markup Language (CSML) an XML format for modeling, visualizing and simulating biopathways.

The advantage of paying attention to this is, reaching an appropriate balance between random emergence and directed flow will ultimately serve end users and programmers better than any other option, and the solutions will last for a long time.


Communities of Practice at NASA

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Spending More Time with Better Information

In the book You Are Not a Gadget Jaron Lanier talks about the unrecognized value of ideas generated by individuals, and the unintended effects the internet is having on musicians, visual artists, writers and other professional creative people. One way he describes it is the the “digital flattening of expression into a global mush“. Another is the “adoration of fragments“.

From Jaron Lanier at the RSA uploaded to Flickr by PSD.

One of the best examples he uses is what MIDI did to music “squeezing all of musical expression through a limiting model of the actions of keys on a musical keyboard“. All of the nuances, individual interpretations and stellar performances are gone. Every performance is the same.

People are not spending enough time with better information because some parts of the internet design do not allow for multiple iterations without ditching the previous versions, or any way to see how an idea or the information surrounding it has evolved.  There is no variation of the same, there are only exact copies and links.  A new digital architecture is needed with provisions for continuity, and coming back to an idea again with a fresh perspective, to promote the slow building and appreciation of work that takes longer than a few minutes or hours to create or interpret. There is hope though, with organizations like the Long Now Foundation working on projects to foster long term thinking and responsibility. It is a monumentally large challenge to consider more efficient ways to process infinite data fields intersecting – in such a way that better data might rise up out of the fray.

From The Effects of Digital Crosstalk in Data Converters
by Maxim where Innovation is Delivered

For better data to be created in the first place, professional creative people need to be paid reasonable rates to be ABLE to spend more time making work that in turn lasts longer out in the world. Consider for example these beer taps, an actual designer was paid a reasonable rate to figure out a shape, they were free to use any typeface, the only design requirement was a universal hookup. That is all internet standards should be, universal screw threads that allow designs to be professionally created, manufactured, and distributed.

Dr. Dremo Donut Beer Tap from the Quest for the Holy Grain

It truly is a conceptual and mathematical problem to devise a system of standard access points that allow data to slowly evolve, and get better, in ways that enough people can become truly engaged in what hand crafters have made.

Some designs will last longer than others but there is no inherent functionality in the design of the internet currently to let digital cross talk start eliminating what should sticks around longer or pop up in searches faster because it is actually better or supported by people who have actually looked at some thing from all sides. The idea of what fits is underused because there is no geometry around data forcing some information to stick around certain areas or flow through and keep on going.

Processes need to be developed to start dealing with the pace ideas and information fly around.  Data flow needs to be treated more like music. Like many people have observed – the symbolic encoding can be very simple and the same everywhere – but more time and attention is needed for actually the shapes and architecture of what supports a digital idea or lets it exchange faster, slower, closer, further away.

Yale Research, Breakthroughs in the Water, the Science of Swimming

What would such an ideal exchange architecture look like? Where would the universal screw threads be and how can the visitor experience be directed through this information space like a museum design? Where are the long axial views? The hints of what might be around the corner? Where do you pause and consider individual works? There is a flatness to digital information, everything is in your face on the same plane. There needs to be a better way to get a longer perspective on what surrounds ideas and information. Where they came from, how they have evolved, and which parts need to stay connected so they can hold together and stand the test of time.

DNA from Emergent Culture

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I Love Typography

On 10 July 2009 Steve Kehlet said: For a while I’ve been reading I Love Typography, which describes itself as a means of bringing the subject of Typography to the masses. I am definitely part of the masses, I know I don’t have the critical eye and patience needed for good page design, as made evident by my site with its uninspired look, horrible colors, blocky layout, and general failure to render properly in any browser but Safari. But as I Love Typography says, it is truly inspiring at times to see these beautiful fonts and what people have done with them. Each article showcases numerous typefaces and sometimes works of art created with them. It’s a fascinating read on a beautiful topic I now realize I know so little about.” So he starts to look at it:

For the full story, see 1 <3 Typography and the I Love Typography site.

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Call for Mathematics and Design Papers

VI INTERNATIONAL MATHEMATICS & DESIGN CONFERENCE
M&D-2010
June 07 – 11, 2010
Buenos Aires, Argentina

DIRECTION OF THE CONFERENCE
Dra. Vera W. de Spinadel

SCIENTIFIC INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE
Claudi Alsina
Drumi Bainov
Javier Barrallo Calonge
Ubiratan d´Ambrosio
Roberto Doberti
Rosa S. Enrich
Carlos Federico
Dirk Huylebrouck
Slavik Jablan
Amadeo Monreal
Janusz Rebielak
Adela Salvador Alcaide
Gunter Weiss

ORGANIZED BY
Centre  MAyDI  and Laboratory of Mathematics & Design, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urban Planning, University of Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA
International Mathematics & Design Association

ORGANIZING COMMITTEE
Susana Toscano
Marcela Franco
Néstor Díaz
Graciela Colagreco

Languages: Spanish and English.

Objective:  The objective of this conference is to convoke designers and scientists from different fields of knowledge, interested in the active interaction between Mathematics and Design. There exists an enormous wealth of experiences not only  in Architecture and Engineering but also in Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Textil Design, Light and Sound Design, Art Design, etc. It is important that the experts in some of these fields meet together to interchange their results and projects.

TOPICS OF INTEREST
* Computer Design
* Mathematical modelling
* Visualization
* Multi-media
* Project Design
* Art and mathematics

Plenary Conferences:  These conferences will be delivered by well known invited researchers. They will dispose of one hour.

Scientific communications:  The scientific communications have to be the presentation of a finished investigation or in the state of conclusion. They can be presented orally or by means of a poster. For the presentation, the author will dispose of twenty minutes followed by ten minutes to answer questions from the audience.

The acceptance of the scientific communications will be a responsability of the Scientific International Committee and the Proceedings of the conference M&D-2010 will be published as a special issue of the Journal of Mathematics & Design.

SECOND CALL FOR  PAPERS

Papers are invited on the topics outlined and other topics which fall within the general scope of the Conference. The deadline for the reception of the abstracts of the communications is July 31, 2009 .

Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words, contain a list of keywords and clearly state the methodology, purpose, results and conclusions of the final paper.

The answer about the acceptance will be sent  by  December 1, 2009.

CONTACT EMAILS
info@maydi.org.ar  (Centre of Mathematics & Design)
ai_myd@yahoo.com.ar (International Mathematics & Design Association
myd_lab@yahoo.com.ar (Laboratory of Mathematics & Design)

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Juxtaposing Dynamic Forms

Below are images from Dale Chihuly’s Gardens and Glass installed at botanical gardens all over the world. Perfect juxtapositions of beautifully crafted objects, once fluid and rapidly changing, now fixed in time. Purposefully and collaboratively placed in similar backgrounds. The living objects continue to slowly change and grow in ways that are impossible to observe in a single visit. The now-fixed and eternally-changing are simply together, enhancing each other’s beauty, creating a place.

What can designers of modern, fluid, information patterns learn from this stunning collaboration between botany and art? How can cleaning your data and preparing records for deep, widely distributed archiving feel more like working in your garden? If dynamic growing data collections could be shown, and tended to, in forms that were able to be made more beautiful over time…what do newly fixed data structures look and act like in context of slowly changing knowledge domains forming beautifully tended backgrounds?

To really see, be surrounded by, experience and wonder for yourself, please go to the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh PA before November 11, 2007 – where juxtaposing dynamic forms is made real.

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Ontoforms

SUO
This is an image from the Standard Upper Ontology Working Group (SUO WG) Also shown as Fig. 3 in Accuracy&Aesthetic director Kenneth Field‘s upcoming publication “Ontologies, Categories, Folksonomies: An Organised Language of Sound” to be published in the fall and copyrighted by Organised Sound, an International Journal of Music and Technology, Cambridge Journals.
Ken is interested in aesthetic outcomes of the structures and coined the new term “Ontoform” while stating “I’m after living/conscious ‘ontoforms’ that float invisibly in our environment until you put on your x-ray specs.”

ontoform
sumo-1.36classes

sumo-1.36classes, KennethFields

Debbie is beginning to collect images like the ones above simply to examine standard upper ontologies as forms, functions, and overall designs. The purpose is to devise a method of making ontoforms, designs, and functions more beautiful and locally driven by treating them like building designs communicated through drawings, measurements, models, and special means of specifying.

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Emerging Complexity and Cellular Automata, Wolfram Science

dripping

From Simon’s Computing Stuff: The Dripping Rail rule is a 1D CA rule which is simply an averaging over neighbours and an increment. This module shows the time progression of the CA.

dripping springs

Dripping Springs by Kevin Caron

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Accuracy and Aesthetics – two views

May 25, 2005 astronomer Frank Summers and computer animator Greg Bacon at the Space Telescope Science Institute created a fascinating slide show about their collaboration entitled “Accuracy and Aesthetics, Scientific Visualization Using Hollywood Tools

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Frank Summers and Greg Bacon were the two principle visualizers on a 3 minute IMAX film called “Hubble: Galaxies Across Space and Time. Frank Summer‘s scientific visualizations have appeared in planetarium shows, television documentaries, educational venues, andthe 1996 Academy award nominated IMAX film “Cosmic Voyage”.

Frank Summers stated in a response to this post “It was on project that I learned I was a good translator between astronomy and visualization realms – I found I could talk to experts in both fields almost equally well.” He says “I use the phrase “accuracy and aesthetics” because I have both a scientific and an artistic background. I have over 20 years of dance training in jazz, ballet, tap, and ballroom. I was director and choreographer with a student dance group in college. I try to combine that point of view with my analytic and mathematical training to create a fusion that achieves both ends. It doesn’t always work, but it is an inspiring goal.”Digital craftsman, translators, and discipline straddlers like Frank Summers will serve an increasingly important role as the digital age is defined. The nonprofit organization Accuracy&Aesthetics’ mission is to create tools and maps to make these tasks easier, more correct and complete as time goes on.

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Glide Glyphs

Glides are characters in the book The Maze Game, by Diana Reed Slattery, see Glide, An Interactive Exploration of Visual Language. Glides communicate using a language based on gestures and shapes, they send each other messages and pass down stories by skating on ice, dancing and other means their keepers don’t understand. Here are the elements:

GlideGlyphs

This is how they tell a story: Ultra syntax
MazeGame

The Maze Game by Diana Reed Slattery, Deep Listening Publications.

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Imagine a World

Imagine a world where everything is in context from the big to the small. All kinds of short cuts, worm holes, and walkthroughs could be mathematically and artistically portrayed. Imagine exploring this world, turning the corner and seeing a huge vista, like all of music, open up before you. Imagine being able to trace an idea, object, or field of endeavor through time, across cultures and disciplines to see different perspectives. What if you could run into other people in areas where you are curious or interested, go up to them and say “Hey, what are you looking at?”

ANoiseNoEvents

Stream line oriented topology of a 2D time-dependent vector field, by Holger Theisel and Kuangyu Shi, at the Max Planck Institut fur Informatik

To create such a world involves:

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