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Last week the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) Northern Virginia Chapter (CSI NOVA) welcomed scientists from the NIST Fire Research Lab to give a talk about fire simulations and the new test facility.

NIST’s Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS)

A couple simulations were of just the fires themselves rather than walls, furniture, elevator shafts and other elements that might influence where a fire would move next in a building. The NIST Fire Research lab studies both the effects and relationships of different building materials with fire, and the physics of fire by itself. The physics of fire by itself has some known properties, such as maximum temperatures, and the short SHORT flashover point. The space around a fire is not always needed for better understanding of what a fire is likely to do next.

National Fire Protection Association (2001) from NFPA 1710

Today we have a lot of data moving around the Internet. Behaviors and patterns in the physics of data flow may have properties like maximum temperatures or flashover points in fires.

Ebb and Flow of Box Office Receipts Over the Past 20 Years – at Flowing Data

However it seems like most of these studies only look at the data, rarely the space around. As if the way different areas of the Internet were built, or the composition of various user communities, could influence where data are likely to go next and whether they are likely to spread quickly or slowly smolder. Below is an image about the flow of physics data from CERN, but who is studying the physics of data flow? Or more importantly, structural details about spaces around data, or how more precise configurations might help push relevant information into specific areas that are most conducive to those particular ideas catching on, spreading, and growing… Until at some point, inevitably, even the most gigantic ideas, like fires, will eventually die out. We are still learning about the physics of fire today, the physics of data flow and a better understanding of the life cycle of ideas and information may take many MANY generations of study until the statistics and calculations are relatively accurate, or at least aligned with the unpredictable real world.


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 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.

But how would you store and encode that geometry?


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, 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


Collages about linking huge amounts of open data in hyperbolic space. Individual images and links are below.




Components starting with Michael K. Bergman on AI3 Adaptive Information, Adaptive Innovation, Adaptive Infrastructure. Not all components below are shown above.

Lack of Road Signs Causes Collisions and Missed Turns (459)



One Possible Road Map (515)


Full UMBEL Graph (496)


From Wikipedia: An umbel is an inflorescence which consists of a number of short flower stalks (calledpedicels) which are equal in length and spread from a common point, somewhat like umbrella ribs. Umbels are a characteristic of plants such as carrot, parsley, dill, and fennel in the familyApiaceae, and ivy, aralia and fatsia in the family Araliaceae. A compressed cyme is called unbelliform if it resembles an umbel.





OpenCyc Selected Vocabulary and Upper Ontology


Linked Open Data


Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles at Daily Dose of Imagery


Crochet Model of Hyperbolic Plane by Daina Taimina, presented by the Institute for Figuring


Ontoforms by Accuracy&Aesthetics Director Ken Fields



Standard Upper Ontology Working Group (SUO WG)







Download PDF Where Does All This Information Belong [ DMacPJBIM08 ] to appear in the Fall 08 online version of the Journal of Building Information Modeling



“I see this as a topic map question with a good query mechanism that would allow you to match patterns and bubble to the top the requisite variety of solutions to the query.

There is something you see and talk about that I rarely do, the ability to fold, twist, and reveal. I have no clue how one goes about that except along the lines I suggested in an earlier post about manifolds, intersecting them, and playing them using something like a GBG (will ask: one of these or Glass Bead Network?) as an interface.

An old (late) friend Iben Browning used to talk about using evolutionary program and “spring” metaphors to let things like this self organize. The idea is that you arrange nodes in relationship to each other and add springs between them. You can watch this happen with touchgraph - the nodes jiggle around until the dust settles. You can tweak spring coefficients until something “makes sense” – - that’s what evolutionary programming does for you.”


See the big picture of clusters and interrelations within your data, and zoom in on whatever catches your interest, by TouchGraph.



RE: “Set of data structures, or code templates, to extend semantic relationships that already exist in CSI and OCCS classifications to capture and describe building information by construction type, use group, code requirements and so on.”

I see (in the pdf below) that you are linking core concepts (Uniformat and MF2004 names) to various the classification systems and specification clauses (step 1 ,2) and related these to their usefulness for some building types (step 3-5 Looking at ICC allows  you to relate some requirements to ‘core concepts’ and/or ‘building types’. COBIE exposes the  classification of spaces, systems and registered types. Lastly your spreadsheet mentions standards that are relevant. Overall you have a tree of references and relationships.


Developing a set of code and classification templates to track and standardize building information modeling exchanges. See pdf for explanation.


and the following links

bimSMART lab


BuildingSMART Alliance


Building Code templates are a way of understanding the design of buildings and also what happens inside there. Some of this information is private, some is related to overall energy awareness and efficiency concerns, some are public services that could be shown on Google maps, some are simply where a person lives with preferred and ranked restaurants around them. Whatever the concerns, how do you get from all the possible information and building control system readings to the necessary and sufficient information needed for the general public to live their daily lives and participate in the governance of their local, regional, national and global community? Code templates are a stab at it. It is assumed every building type can use the same Division 01, General Conditions in their contract documents while being built. Its still unclear what happens after that in terms of the building lifecycle. Where building codes fit is still being figured out but probably in another band above Division01.


Context Driven Topologies are mathematical groups of ideas and information transmitted over computers and networks.  Their form and process are expressed using drawings and specifications.  Their purpose is to organize and drive network topologies to answer questions and derive meaning from data collections of any size, particularly in open source environments.  The purpose of answering questions and deriving meaning is to foster Collective Intelligence. Refer to Wikipedia Unassessed Systems for related work.

CItypes (131)

The default form envisioned for storage mode is a spiral.  Groups of ideas and information can be rearranged infinite ways while working with or distributing to and from precise locations. Locations can be physical, conceptual, or a combination of both.  Assuming constructing exchanges and working this way is possible, what shapes and topologies would be most effective?  What are their properties? What do they have in common? What would a computer and network language about these pathways, densities, colors, transparencies, forms, linkages and exchanges look like?


Its too complicated to wonder about ALL possible forms, the question can be simplified by just concentrating on spirals for an example. Therefore, a previous post Spiral Model is expanded to incorporate slides prepared by A&A Director Vera W. de Spinadel for a Postgraduate class on Form and Mathematics which focuses on logic and technique. Dr. de Spindel remarks “Of course this has a lot to do with the subject of Context Driven Topologies“. Lets see what this means to computers and networks, starting with :

spiral model

Spiral Model, Boehm, 1988, Original Creator: Conrad Nutschan

According to Wikipedia on November 22, 2006: The spiral model is a software development process combining elements of both design and prototyping-in-stages, in an effort to combine advantages of top-down and bottom-up concepts. What a perfect shape spirals are to portray complex evolving relationships. Just imagine the possibilities using spirals as a base structure.


A Equiangular Spiral and its Secants from the Visual Dictionary of Special Plane Curves

Now for Vera’s slides:











English captions to be completed at a later date – this slide says “Carrying out some modifications in the process of construction of this spiral, we are going to build other linked with the Numbers of the FNMPP. In the following figure details of the construction are shown.”



Of course spirals are seen in nature and architecture. Rough translation “Finally, in the country of the Architectural Design, fits to mention the interesting antecedent of the Spiral building, built by the Arq. Fumihiko Maki in Tokyo, Japan in 1985. Maki gue prizewinner with the Prize Pritzker in 1993 and in its Spiral building has utilized the geometry of the curve, that conjugates marvelously the concepts of fragment and unattainable center. The geometric figure is an evocation of the ones that are found in Kyoto, in the famous Temple of Ginkakuji (Silver Building) 1338-1573 and in the Temple of Kinkakuji (Building of Gold) 1398, reconstructed in 1955. Though these denominations of Gold and Silver have religious and historic meaning, they would be able to serve of example to design making use of so much, metallic spirals flat curves like helicoides metallic.”


The question Vera is looking for is geometrical interpretations of the members of the family of metallic means – which she discovered in 1997. She found a relationship of the golden mean with the pentagon and another of the silver mean with the octagon. And that was all, there were no more relationships with polygons. So, she began trying to construct metallic spirals, generalizing the well known golden spiral – and was successful! She introduced a family of metallic spirals and continues intensively working with the silver spiral. There will be more to see when she presents at the International Conference on Geometry and Graphics ICGG-2008 in Dresden Germany.


Other computer and network systems that may be interesting to study in terms of forms, dynamic properties, geometry and graphics to streamline information that have been highlighted in recent discussions include:

Artificial Neural Networks

Pattern Recognition

Single Instance Storage

But what is even more interesting is


Collective Intelligence


the Information Economy Meta Language IEML see the paper “Collective Intelligence Protocol Semantic Metadata Exchange Standard (CIP-SMES)” by Michel Bietzunski and Steven Newcomb 18 July 2007. A commentary on this paper and Chapter 3 of Topic Maps by the same authors, edited by Jack Park is here IEMLcomments









There is a place in Washington DC called Busboys and Poets that believes social justice and peace are achievable goals.

What does this mean today? What data structures need to be built to further this goal? What geometry works best to distribute and streamline the information flow?

Peace Education Image by D@dalos
Today, there were 1000 monks and nuns in Myanmar seeking social justice in a quiet, peaceful manner. The Washington Post Express reported concern for the monks and nuns safety. The author noted the monks and nuns are the conscience of their country. Every country could use a group of people thinking, and acting, together like this for peace and social justice. This is what the monks look like.


AP Online via the Washington Post

Archiv-Burma, source reference

Here is where Myanmar, that was once Burma, is located:

East Asia Blog Spot

What are the optimal, most efficient paths for quiet, peaceful, social justice people to get the word out?


Social Network Diagrams and instructions available at Group10


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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