Tag Archives: Place

Digital Continuity

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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.

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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reencrypted, anonymously routed through satellites and cables, emulated on alien machinery through ill-fitting, out-of-date protocols, then displayed through long-dead graphic standards.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.

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File: Getty Center Central Gardens Wiki Commons

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

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Companion Post: Trace Continuous Threads

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Tag Experiment

A selection of illustrations by Rockwell Kent, in Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, published by Random House, in 1930 are used herein as an experiment about tags.
Written following the CSI format for architectural specifications by breaking into PARTS 1, 2, 3.

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PART 1 – GENERAL

The National Gallery of Art presented a film “Retracing Rockwell Kent” by Frederick Lewis. Rockwell Kent (1882?1971) was a painter, illustrator, travel writer, social activist, and American celebrity. He was so famous in the 1930s the New Yorker was prompted to write “That day will mark a precedent which brings no news of Rockwell Kent.” The documentary asks, why, then, was he nearly forgotten only two decades later? A stunning example of Rockwell Kent’s work are huge number of illustrations in Moby Dick, a huge commission during the depression in the United States.

Below are a set of images scanned with the words on the page, meaningless to the computer, simply lines, black versus white, not letters forming words with meaning. After loading the images, a new evaluation will be made of computer suggested tags. Next, the pictures will be shown by themselves and the text manually entered to see what terminology coming together to form this compelling story are deemed worthy enough by the computer to serve as keywords and tags.

Currently, only by writing these few words, the computer suggests the following tags “art, aesthetics, accuracy, about, images, Accuracy&Aesthetics, set, connect, process, and sketch”.

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Amazingly, Random House forgot to list the author on the cover.

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after only 3 interior pictures, the following suggested tags appear “see, document, versus, gallery, mark, tags, semantic mashup, connection, people, shapes”

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inexplicably, the computer now suggests the tag “K-12”.

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PART 2 – PRODUCTS
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poetic pearl; Thou who didst clothe with doubly hammered leaves of finest gold, the stumped and paupered arm of old Cervantes; Thou who didst pick up Andres Jackson from the pebbles,; who didst hurl him upon a war-horse; who didst thunder him higher than a throne! Thou who, in all Thy mighty, earthly marchings, ever cullest Thy selectest champions from the kingly commons; bear me out in it, O God!

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after three more pictures and the text above, the following tags are suggested “tags, design, Map, master planning, outreach, beauty, preference, architecture, history, context”

Continuing on with the story:

omit them as altogether obsolete; and can hardly help suspecting them for mere sounds, full of Leviathanism, but signifying nothing.

Finally: It was stated at the outset, that this system would not be here, and at once, perfected. You cannot but plainly see that I have kept my word. But now I leave my Cetological System standing thus unfinished, even as the great Cathedral of Cologne was left, with the crane still standing upon the top of the uncomplicated tower. For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught – nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!

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Come, Ahab’s compliments to ye; come and see if ye can swerve me. Swerve me? ye cannot swerve me, else ye swerve yourselves! man has ye there. Swerve me? The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents’ beds, unerringly I rush! Naught’s an obstacle, naught’s an angle to the iron way!

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Days, weeks passed, and under easy sail, the ivory Pequod had slowly swept across four several cruising-grounds; that off the Azores; off the Cape de Verdes; on the Plate (so called), being off the mouth of the Rio de la Plata; and the Carrol Ground an unstaked, water locality, southerly from St. Helena.

It was while gliding through these latter waters that one serene and moonlight night, when all the waves rolled by like scrolls of silver; and by their soft, suffusing seethings, made what seemed a silvery silence, not a solitude: on such a silent night a silvery jet was seen far in advance of the white bubbles at the bow. Lit up by the moon, it looked celestial; seemed some plumed and glittering god uprising from the sea. Fedallah first descried this jet.

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With reference to the whaling scene shortly to be described, as well as for the better understanding of all similar scenes elsewhere presented, I hae here to speak of the magical, sometimes horrible whale-line.

The line originally used in the fishery was of the best hemp, slightly vapored with tar, not impregnated with it, as in the case of ordinary ropes; for while tar, as ordinarily used, makes the hemp more pliable to the rope-maker, and also renders the rope itself more convenient to the sailor for common ship use; yet, not only would the ordinary quanitity too much stiffen the whale-line for the close coiling to which it must be subjected; but as most seamen are beginning to learn, tar in general by no means adds to the rope’s durability or strength, however much it may give it compactness and gloss.

Of late years the Manilla rope has in the American fishery almost entirely superseded hemp as a material for whale-lines;

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A word concerning an incident in the last chapter.

According to the invariable usage of the fishery, the whale-boat pushes off from the ship, with the headsman or whale-killer as temporary steersman, and the harpooner or whale-fastener pulling the foremost oar, the one known as the harpooneer-oar. Now it needs a strong nervous arm to strike the first iron into the fish; for often, in what is called a long dart, the heavy implement has to be flung to the distance of twenty or thirty feet. But however prolonged and exhausting the chase, the harpooner is expected to pull his oar meanwhile to the uttermost; indeed, he is expected to set an example of superhuman activity to the rest, not only by incredible rowing, but by repeated lout and intrepid exclamation; and what it is to keep shouting at the top of one’s compass, while all the other muscles are strained and half started – what that is none know but those that have tired it. For one, I cannot bawl very heartily and work very recklessly at one and the same time. In this straining, bawling state, then, with his back to the fish, all at once the exhausted harpooneer hears the exciting cry – “Stand up, and give it to him!” He now has to drop and secure his oar, turn round on his centre half way, seize his harpoon from the crotch, and with

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only new suggested tag at this point is “system”

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When in the Southern Fishery, a captured Sperm Whale, after long and weary toil, is brought alongside late at night, it is not, as a general thing at least, customary to proceed at once to the business of cutting him in. For that business is an exceedingly laborious one; is not very soon completed; and requires all hands to set about it. Therefore, the common usage is to take in all sail; lash the helm a’lee; and then send everyone below to his hammock till daylight, with the reservation that, until that time, anchor-watches shall be kept; that is, two and two for an hour, each couple, the crew in rotation shall mount the deck to see that all goes well.

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Crossing the deck, let us now have a good long look at the Right Whale’s head.

As in general shape, the noble Sperm Whale’s head may be compared to a Roman war-chariot (especially in front, where it is so broadly rounded); so, at a broad view, the Right Whale’s head bears a rather inelegant resemblance to a gigantic galliot-toed shoe. Two hundred years ago an old Dutch voyager kikned its shape to that of a shoemaker’s last. And in this same last or shoe, that old woman of the nursery tale, with the swarming brood, might very comfortably be lodged, she and all her progeny.

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If the Sperm Whale be physiognomically a Sphinx, to the phrenologist his brain seems that geometrical circle which it is impossible to square.

In the full-grown creature, the skull will measure at least twenty feet in length. Unhinge the lower jaw, and the side view of this skull is as the side view of a moderately inclined plane resting throughout on a level base. But in life – as we have elsewhere seen – this inclined plane is angularly filled up, and almost squared by the enormous superincumbent mass. At the high end the skull forms a crater to bed that part of the mass; while under the long floor of this crater – in another cavity

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Other poets have warbled the praises of the soft eye of the antelope, and the lovely plumage of the bird that never alights; less celestial, I celebrate a tail.

Reckoning the largest Sperm Whale’s tail to begin at that point of the trunk where it tapers to about the girth of a man, it comprises upon its upper surface alone, an area of at least fifty square feet. The compact round body of its root expands into two broad, firm, flat palms or flukes, gradually shaling away to less than an inch in thickness. At the junction, these flukes slightly overlap, then sideways recede from each other like wings, leaving a wide vacancy between. In no living thing are the lines of beauty more exquisitely defined than in the crescentic borders of these flukes. At it supmost expansion in the full grown whale, the tail will considerably exceed twenty feet across.

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tail of this whale, how understand his head? much more, how comprehend his face, when face he has none? Thou shalt see my back parts, my tail, he seems to say, but my face shall not be seen. But I cannot completely make out his back parts; and hint what he will about his face, I say again he has no face.

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Ere now it has been related how Ahab was wont to pace his quarter-deck, taking regular turns at either limit, the binnacle and mainmast; but in the multiplicity of other things requiring narration it has not been added how that sometimes in these walks, when most plunged in his mood, he was wont to pause in turn at each spot, and stand there strangely eyeing the particular object before him. When he halted before the binnacle, with his glance fastened on the pointed needle in the compass, that glance shot like a javelin with the pointed intensity of his purpose; and when resuming his walk he again paused before the mainmast, then, the same riveted glance fastened upon the riveted gold coin there, he still wore the same aspect of nailed firmness, only dashed with a certain wild longing, if not hopefulness.

But one morning, turning to pass the doubloon, he seemed to be newly attracted by the strange figures and inscriptions stamped on it, as though now for the first time beginning to interpret for himself in some monomaniac way whatever significance might lurk in them. An some certain significance lurks in all

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one hand, and a pill-box held in the other, occasionally casting a critical glance at the ivory limbs of the two crippled captains. But, at his superior’s introduction of him to Ahab, he politely bowed, and straightway went on to do his captain’s bidding.

“It was a shocking bad wound,” began the whale-surgeon; “and, taking my advice, Captain Boomer here, stood our old Sammy – ”

“Samuel Enderby is the name of my ship,” interrupted the one-armed captian, addressing Ahab; “go on, boy.”

“Stood our old Sammy off to the northward, to get out of the blazing hot weather there on the Line. But it was no use – I did

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Inasmuch, then, as this Leviathan comes floundering down upon us from the head-waters of the Eternities, it may be fitly inquired, whether, in the long course of his generations, he has not degenerated from the original bulk of his sires.

But upon investigation we fine, that not only are the whales of the present day superior in magnitude to those whose fossil remains are found in the Tertiary system (embracing a distinct geological period prior to man), but of the whales found in that Tertiary system, those belonging to it latter formations exceed in size those of its earlier ones.

Of all the pre-adamite whales yet exhumed, by far the largest is the Alabama one mentioned in the last chapter, and that was less than seventy feet in length in the skeleton. Whereas, we have already seen, that the tape-measure gives seventy-two feet for the skeleton of a large sized modern whale. And I have heard, on whaleman’s authority, the Sperm Whales have been captured near a hundred feet long at the time of capture.

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Not seldom in this life, when, on the right side, fortune’s favorites sail close by us, we, though all adroop before, catch somewhat of the rushing breeze, and joyfully feel our bagging sails fill out. So seemed it with the Pequod. For next day after encountering the gay Bachelor, whales were seen and four were slain; and one of them by Ahab.

It was far down the afternoon; and when all the spearings of the crimson fight were done: and floating in the lovely sunset sea and sky, sun and whale both stilly died together; then, such a sweetness and such plaintiveness, such inwreathing orisons curled up in that rosy air, that it almost seemed as if far over from the deep

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It was a clear steel-blue day. The firmaments of air and sea were hardly separable in that all-pervading azure; only, the pensive air was transparently pure and soft, with a woman’s look, and the robust and man-like sea heaved with long, strong, lingering swells, as Samson’s chest in his sleep.

Hither, and thither, on high, glided the snow-white wings of small, unspeckled birds; these were the gentle thoughts of the feminine air; but to and fro in the deeps, far down in the bottomless blue, rushed might Leviathans, sword-fish, and sharks; and these were the strong, troubled, murderous thinkings of the masculine sea.

But though this contrasting within, the contrast was only in shades and shadows without; those two seemed one; it was only the sex, as it were, that distinguished them.

Aloft, like a royal czar and king, the sun seemed giving this gentle air to this bold and rolling sea; even as bride to groom. And at the girdling line of the horizon, a soft and tremulous motion – most seen here at the Equator – denoted the fond, throbbing trust, the loving alarms, with which the poor bride gave her bosom away.

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hammer frozen there; and so the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his imperial beach thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the flag of Ahab, went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven with her, and helmeted herself with it.

Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.

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Epilogue

“And I only am escaped alone to tell thee” Job

The drama’s done. Why then here does any one step forth? – Because one did survive the wreck.

It so chanced, that after the Paree’s disappearance, I was he whom the Fates ordained to take the place of Ahab’s bowsman, when that last bowsman assumed the vacant post; the same, who, when on the last day the three men were tossed from out the rocking boat, was dropped astern. So, floating on the margin of the ensuing scene, and in full sight of it, when the half-spent suction of the sunk ship reached me, I was then, but slowly, drawn towards the closing vortex. When I reached it, it had subsided to a creamy pool. Round and round, then, and ever contracting towards the button-like black bubble at the axis of that slowly wheeling circle, like another Ixion I did revolve. Till, gaining that vital centre, the black bubble upward burst; and now, liberated by reason of its cunning spring, and, owning to its great buoyancy, rising with great force, the coffin life-buoy shot lengthwise from the sea, fell over, and floated by my side. Buoyed up by that coffin, for almost one whole day and night, I floated on a soft and dirge-like main. The unharming sharks, they glided by as if with padlocks on their mouths; the savage seahawks sailed with sheathed beaks. On the second day, a sail drew near, nearer, and picked me up at last. It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in here retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.

Finis

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PART 3 – EXECUTION

In conclusion, the computer suggests the following tags: “compare, place, local, understanding, contrast, fixed, OWL, change, logic, and Geo”

to that, as a human reader, must add:

“story, interpret, inscription, computer suggest, purpose, formations, time of capture”

and most importantly (even coldly based on occurrence or placement) “whale”

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After saving, the computer now adds the following suggestions:

“figures, tags, global, visual, Maps to Make, standards, create, specifications, detail, and pattern”

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Furthermore, the computer now goes on to suggest:

“Google, music, consensus, education, technology, colors, general public, ideas, visualization, Africa”

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In one last save and inspection, the following terms are highlighted, seemingly at random:

“color, public, concept, support, spectrum, math, science, BIM, geospatial, mathematical”

………not convinced computers are able to suggest tags accurately or aesthetically at this point in time because this is a real story with great drawings and the computer did not get it. Better for a person to select their own keywords and tags until machines can learn to be more subtle, not simply spitting out what we want to hear, making it too easy to click on proposed terms that may or may not reflect the stories being told; and certainly not grasping the process of selecting parts from a whole or looking at drawings to enhance the letters, words, paragraphs, pages, books, libraries, digital collections forming the sea of records we swim in and attempt to navigate.

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Social Justice and Peace

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?

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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.

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AP Online via the Washington Post

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Archiv-Burma, source reference www.asiatours.net

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

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East Asia Blog Spot

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

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Social Network Diagrams and instructions available at Group10

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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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GSA NSF Workshop

“It is probably true quite generally that in the history of human thinking the most fruitful developments frequently take place at those points where two different lines of thought meet. These lines may have their roots in quite different parts of human culture, in different times or different cultural environments or different religious traditions: hence if they actually meet, that is, if they are at least so much related to each other that a real interaction can take place, then one may hope that new and interesting developments may follow.” Werner Heisenberg (3N7T)

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Intersecting Backgrounds

“Creativity is a process that can be observed only at the intersection where individuals, domains, and fields intersect.” Csikszentmihalyi, 1999 (3N7U)

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Intro to the Expedition Workshop Mapping and Navigating the Waterways of Public Information: Connecting People to Science and Scholarly Knowledge.

Projects Director Deborah MacPherson to participate in panel on Virtual Organizing: Conducive Conditions for Creativity in Advancing Knowledge Collections. See the agenda here.

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Place in the Universe

Different people have different reasons to define what “universe” means and to examine our place in it.
Swedish artist Monica Sand says …the modern research of space has changed the image of the human position in universe. How can we make an image of the human endeavour in a space perspective? The project “Space is Looking at Us” uses satellites to document several artistic installations to create a new definition of universe from this perspective. Movie is here.
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On the other hand, Kathryn Blackmond Laskey states on [OntologForum] “If we go around saying the universe “is” a set, we are in danger of confusing a representation of the world with the world we are representing. Tarskian semantics accords well with the Western scientific worldview. It is quite useful for mathematical formalization of the meaning of statements that can be given definite truth-values. Formal ontology is most usefully applied to problems
that can be described in terms of statements that can be given definite truth-values.”

Somewhere between the two – a big picture can be made.

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World Overviews

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Languages of the World Map edited by Raymond G. Gordon Jr. in 1995 for Ethnologue.

Seeking permission to alter the graphic by marking the locations of the Board of Directors and develop a symbolic overlay to indicate the languages each person uses in the places they live and where they work. For example, Vera W. de Spinadel is a mathematician from Argentina, her primary language is Spanish, but she is also fluent in English. Ken Petersen is here in Washington but an expert in Russian languages and its derivatives… the purpose is to show how our nonprofit organization communicates within the context of everything else.

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