Tag Archives: documentation

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.


But how would you store and encode that geometry?


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


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.


Mixing Performance and Design Specifications

RE: Green building laws and regulations.


Green Building, by TopLeftPixel, a daily dose of imagery

In the real world of building architecture, some jurisdictions have performance bonds, payable to the jurisdiction, when projects do not achieve sustainable requirements.

By contrast, sustainable information design does not have an equal to the LEED rating system, clear definition of sustainable information design requirements, or even design goals. Altogether there is a poor general understanding of what authorities having jurisdiction means for Web3.0 and beyond.

In the Construction Specifier David Blak and Leah Rochwarg are lawyers who discuss potential interpretation problems in the article Avoiding the Gray Area When Going Green ~ “In addition to green laws and regulations, there is a multitude of other legal issues concerning the field of sustainable construction. One such issue involves mixing performance and design specifications. Performance specifications demand the contractor achieve a specific result, whereas design specifications require the contractor follow the documentation like a roadmap.”


What “documentation can be followed like a roadmap” by semantic contractors? What is a modern roadmap?


Patricia Hilton’s map of the 14 August 2007 Expedition Workshop (3NDU)


Accuracy&Aesthetics portion, gone pixelated


What is meant by “Performance versus Design Specification” in semantic construction and contracting? How can the proper form of specification help an information Owner achieve their communication goals by helping people find what they are looking for?


Parasol, Texas A&M University, Algorithms & Applications Group Neuron PRM: A Framework for Constructing Cortical Networks


What network topologies and documentation standards will improve public understanding and access?


Figure 3(b): Hyperbolic view of BGP routing table data describing connectivity among autonomous systems. Internet measurement and data analysis: topology, workload, performance and routing statistics by Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA)

Is hyperbolic space the best depiction?


Figure 2 Sample Service Provider Fiber and SONET/SDH Layout
Beyond the Access?Understanding the Physical Topology by CISCO

How do you write a performance specification to improve physical topology when in the words of Arun Majumdar, “we are caught in a non-deterministic problem where sequential reasoning – i.e. look forward to what you want as your outcome and then reason backwards – will simply not work because we have no clear blueprint for what the end outcome “looks like” (or *must* look like).”


Purple Numbers


Above is an example of (an out of date) webpage with purple numbers envisioned by Doug Engelbart and Bootstrap.org An overlay is put on to a webpage generating random numbers to go right to the place where the text or image is located. The text below was written by Doug Engelbart, 23-Oct-2000.

Introduction 1

    Large-scale challenges are best served if there are appropriately scaled strategic principles to guide their pursuit. And special value results if the launch plan of a long-term and large-scale strategy produces significant payoff accrual early in the pursuit. 1AWe are addressing the large-scale, pervasive challenge of improving the collective development and application of knowledge. Many years of focussed experience and conceptual development underly the strategic framework guiding this proposal. 1B

Phase-1: OHS Launch Project: HyperScope enhancement of Legacy Systems: 2

    Special Note: Implementation of the HyperScope and all of the later stages of the OHS are committed to being done as Open-Source development. There are clear and compelling reasons for this, stemming from the scale and rate of evolution which needs be accommodated, and from the number of collaborative communities which need to be involved, PRO-ACTIVELY. 2AThe HyperScope will be a lightly modified web browser supported by an “Intermediary Processor” (IP) which operates between the browser and the files or data bases holding existing working knowledge of a collaborative community. The HyperScope is not an editor. 2B
    A Hyperscope user will be able to follow links into and between these “legacy” files in a manner similar to using a browser with web-based HTML files. And more, there will be numerous new capabilities and features which will give a HyperScope user considerable more flexibility and working power than users limited to standard browsers and “legacy” editors. 2B1

Brief Functional Description of Phase-1 HyperScope — new capabilities provided to HyperScope users operating within legacy environments: 2C

    1. In response to what may be an ordinary HTTP link, the targeted file will be (a) retrieved from its server and (b) dynamically “translated” into an Intermediary file (I-File) with special structure and format implemented with XML+. 2C1
    For any community seriously interested in applying HyperScope (and the follow-on, full OHS), it is assumed that appropriate “translator modules” will be developed for every file/db type of significance to their collaborative efforts. It is expected that an increasing list of customized translators will be developed as different application communities extend the range of legacy files to be brought into integrated HyperScope use. 2C1A

2. High-Resolution Addressability: Translation into the I-File’s special structure and format creates, among other things, new label tags attached to many objects (e.g. each paragraph), so that links serviced by the HyperScope can explicitly target many objects in the file which were not addressable in their “legacy” form. Ideally, every object in a file should be targetable by a link whose author wants to comment specifically about that object. 2C2

    E.g., here “http://xxx.xxx.xxx#aaa” targets a specific object, assumedly not labelled in the legacy file, but given the “aaa” label by the Translator any time that it translates that targeted file into the I-File format. 2C2A

3. View-Specifications: The HyperScope will offer a set of “transcoded viewing options” which a user can selectively employ to examine that file. Simple example: just show me the first line of each paragraph. 2C3

    From past experience it is expected that users will invent many variations of the ways they would like to view portions of their files, under different circumstances, often shifting rapidly between views just as one might rotate a physical object, or shift its distance, to get a better understanding of what is there. 2C3A It is planned to enable the option of incorporating a “view specification” (viewspec) to a link so that a subsequent user will not only have execution of that link take him to the desired specific file location, but will also show the contents there with the specified view. 2C3BConsiderable evolution is expected to take place here. In the “open-source” mode, many groups would be experimenting and tuning, contributing to the evolution. 2C3C

4. Expanded set of HyperScope accessable “Legacy File Types:” In principle, this manner of HyperScope access can be implemented for any standard type of file or data base. The Project will establish the basic implementation conventions, and proceed to develop the translation and special I-File properties appropriate for a selected sequence of file/db types — planning tentatively for those to be used by: 2C4

    4a. the OHS-dev community (including open-source participants); 2C4A
    4b. the Software Productivity Consortium’s member community: 2C4B
    4c. communities selected with NIH (and possibly cooperatively with DARPA) for strategic progression of co-evolving tool- and community-development processes. 2C4CNote: Here again, it is planned to facilitate Open-Source development so that many individuals and application communities can pursue specialty application needs and possibilities. (Facilitating this evolution is planned.) 2C4D

5. Copying-Pasting HyperScope Links: When viewing a legacy file via his HyperScope, a user will easily be able to install a HyperScope link (HS-Link) in any legacy file, targeting an explicit location in the file being viewed on his HyperScope. Clicking on the desired target object in a HyperScope “Copy mode,” he can subsequently turn to the “legacy editor” and “Paste” the appropriate link into the legacy file. Later execution of that link will take any subsequent HyperScope user to the desired, specific location and with the specified view. 2C5

6. Back-Link Management: Provision will be made to capture information about links pointing through the HyperScopes into a specified collection of files, to establish a “Back-Link Data Base” (BLDB). For each such link, information to be captured would be such as: 2C6

    6a. Explicit target object being cited; 2C6A
    6b. The “foreign” location of the link; 2C6B
    NOTE: both 6a and 6b being very much more usefully explicit if exercised via HyperScope use. 2C6B1

6c. The author of that other-file citation link. 2C6C

6d. The “Type” of link citation, as per the vocabulary of “link typing” adopted by the usage community, and provided for inclusion in “link syntax” by appropriate standardization processes. 2C6D

    NOTE: Link Typing has been advocated and discused for many years. With the above HyperScope-facilitated LDB, link-type utilization within appropriately developed community conventions and practices, would offer very important enhanced capability for collective knowledge development. 2C6D1AND, in a larger sense, it would enable a practical way to improve on the established academic convention of only publishing AFTER appropriate peer review (with attendant time delays in the cycle of knowedge evolution). 2C6D2 HERE, a promising alternative is offered: Publish now, let Peer Review and “evolving attribution” take place after. I.e., much more than just counting citations can here provide effectively attributed peer evaluation: explicit back-link assessment of trails can operate in many complex knowledge-evolution environments to isolate the key contributions (and also the key misleading entries). 2C6D3

7. Extended addressing conventions to improve linking power: 2C7

    7a. Relative Addressing: A conventional URL with a “#label” extension can position the HyperScope at a given object in the target file. Extended conventions will enable the link to point to subordinate objects — e.g., to a word in a paragraph, to an expression in an equation, … 2C7A7b. Indirect Linking: A very powerful extension to the relative addressing is a convention which directs the HyperScope to go to a specific location and then follow the link at that position — and perhaps at the link’s destination to do further relative positioning and “link following.” This indirect linking provides very powerful functionality when users learn to harness it. 2C7B7c. Implicit Linking: Example — every word is implicitly linked to its definition in a dictionary; every special term is implicitly linked to its definition in that discipline’s glossary; every instance of an object’s name in a source-code file is implicitly linked to its imlementation code; …; every pronoun is implicitly linked to its antecedent. Special “jump” commands can be provided which can operate as though the term in question is explicitly linked to the “implicitly linked” object. (Jump to Definition, …) 2C7C

8. Same file in multiple windows — no real limit there — simultaneously allowing different positioning and different viewing portrayals of a given file. 2C8

    Later, when editing of the Intermediary File will be offered, any legal edit operation executed in one window is reflected accurately and immediately in all other of that file’s portrayal windows. 2C8AThis flexibility in utilizing multiple windows has surprising value when users learn to make effective use of it. 2C8B

9. Non-Link Jumps; Options offered via simple selection means — E.g.: 2C9

    A click in a given paragraph, not on an embedded link, would hoist that paragraph to the top of the window. 2C9AClick-select a given paragraph, then Jump Next, Last, First, Origin, … 2C9B

10. Double-click Jumps offer surprisingly flexible options: 2C10

    First click indicates what jump is desired; second click can be in any other window, indicating where the jump-result view is to be portrayed. Whatever viewing spec already established in the target window will also prevail when the jumped-to file/location is portrayed there. 2C10A Also, in the interval between window clicks, icon or menu clicks, or character input, can indicate the new viewing spec if the user desires something different from what is currently set for the target window. 2C10B For instance: Window 1 could be relatively narrow, with view spec set for small font and only first line of each paragraph portrayed; Window 2 wider, with larger, more-readable font and full-paragraph portrayal. 2C10C

We assume that the above capabilities would be useful to almost any collaborative community, essentially as soon as adequate HyperScope-application support services could be provided. (NOTE that a qualified SRI group is explicitly set now to establish and operate such servics. Optional whether arrangements for this are pre-established at outset of the “OHS-dev Project”, or later when support of a particular community choose to become involved. In any event, suitable lead time needs be allowed.) 2C11

Phase-2: Maturing/Evolving the Hyperscope into full-feature OHS: 3

    Evolution of the Intermediary File format will be given careful attention since it is destined to become the format for the full Open Hyperdocument System (which will continue its evolution). 3A An OHS “User Interface System” (UIS) will be developed to provide a basic range of functions for moving, viewing and editing. 3BProvision for archiving, version control, etc. will be developed so that it becomes possible to develop and maintain an evolving knowledge base soley within an OHS environment — with integrated flexibility and power accumulated from the best that was accomplished via HyperScope usage among the legacy files. 3CNow the VERY important feature of this approach to OHS development comes into play: task by task, or person by person, in almost any order and rate, users can start to keep their files entirely within the OHS environment. All the working material is still interlinkable, whether in OHS or legacy files. 3DAnd the critical community-development processes will become VERY important here — to start the active “co-evolution” of the “Human System” and the OHS “Tool System” (as discussed at length in the “Bootstrap Publications”). 3EFor the scale of utilization that will be necessary, in number of inter-operating groups, in the diversity of inter-operable knowledge domains, and in the continuing changes in tools and skills, processes, etc. — it will be absolutely critical that 3F
    (a) the Tool System be as open to continuing evolution as can be managed, and 3F1
    (b) the application communities be specifically organized to participate pro-actively in the Human-Tool co-evolution. 3F2

It is sincerely hoped that organizations investing in the Stage-1 HyperScope development and use will do so with clear intent to be simultaneously readying their targeted application communities for becoming pro-active, “evolutionary participants.” 3G

Phase-3: Special Evolutionary Provision: Multi-class UIS Architecture and High-Performance Teams. 4

    The OHS Interface Architecture will be set up explicitly to provide for multiple UIS options, with a common, full-feature Application Program Interface (API). To support extensive capability evolution, it will be necessary to provide for a range of UIS options, varying in complexity, potential competency level, difficulty to learn, types of interface devices and modalities, etc. 4A
    Being able effectively to support web-connected mobile phones is one example. 4A1

But a VERY IMPORTANT purpose here is to enable individuals, or special-role support teams, to experiment with interface equipment, functionality, and control options, together with optional special attributes of the standard Intermediary File, to pursue especially high performance at important parts of their knowledge processes. 4B

Having this kind of exploration in any event will be necessary. Doing it with special extensions to the widely used OHS will be very important in enabling feasible migration of these tools and skills out into the rest of the communities. Moreover, doing this exploratory high-performance activity over the SAME WORKING domains amplifies that benefit immensely; motivated individuals can optionally acquire special interface equipment, take some special training, and move up to a “new class of user proficiency” (e.g. becoming a certified Class-4B Knowledge Integrator). 4C

There are support roles anticipated in developing and maintaining a community’s Dynamic Knowledge Repository (DKR) which could very well be taken on by specially trained High-Performance Support Teams. Such a team could for instance be fielded in a university (as a research project into High-Performance Collective Knowledge Work), and take on the “Knowledge Integrator” role for a professional society’s DKR. And competetive exercises could be conducted among teams from different universities — or companies, or agencies, or countries — as part of an explicit processes to facilitate improvement in “Collective IQ.” 4D


You Are Here 2

The Internet is a place where ideas and information that are only partially understood can come together and be explored. But, what is the best fundamental way to show You Are Here?

The Internet Mapping Project by Bill Cheswick and Lumeta makes an edgeless universe of connected areas to at least see an extent. But this map is showing search engines. What varieties of digital materials are traveling across these lines of communication?

Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music settles into one area. Which search engines above are best to find the actual recordings? Who has the time and resources to map the entire land of music? Will there be wars over the borders if they are mapped? Shouldn’t more beautiful music look better than harsher types?

What about designing semantic spaces where one point of view is not necessarily the right way to look at it? What shapes are best for simply formatting and laying out the information in a strategic manner? This circle works for the United Church of Religious Science.

But users cant actually click through maps like these and get anywhere yet. How does a user know how to read these maps if they don’t know the terminology or understand the shapes? What if new style maps are not appealing outside an area where they are created? What if these colors are perceived as ugly and the shapes do not convey relationships the way someone thinks of them in their own head before discovering the digital materials? How can they be led through first to slowly gain an appreciation?

This is from Mininova labs for Passclicks, a new way to login to websites where old style textual passwords are replaced with a sequence of clicks on an image. Thus:

Could similar techniques be documented over long periods of time from many points of view to educate and inspire people by developing tours through mysterious lands like music, religion, and science?

How many types of digital materials need to be conveyed over the lines of communication for such maps to really work? Some areas need storytellers, like Jim Gates, to understand subjects on the outer edges such as Superstring Theory: The DNA of Reality

The solutions may be right around the corner.