I have been working to define system states and come up with an iconic representation for those states. They are the above representations of equality.
This graph is based on the interpretation of the Greek concept of theatre. Primarily Aristolean.
The above is the same set of states as a sine wave function. I have added two additional states to deal with dimensionality (w, x, y, z). I also shuffled the prefixes to be more consistent.
English tends to use prefixes without structure.
Ultimately, everything is metaphor, whether we relate a taste to a strawberry or a color to a sound. I use the word synesthesis broadly to describe the mechanism in memory that makes this possible. The more I read, the more I am discovering that the structure is relatively the same in most individuals, but the perceptual history of every individual shapes the content of this structure differently.
There is some research that shows identical twins when together take different paths, however separated identical twins take similar paths. You can find this in the work of Steven Pinker.
What is known is multiple sensory cues are better than individual sensory cues. A visual cue will have a synergistic effect in memory when accompanied by other sensory cues including what I call the “cognitive sense”. This being the case, the classroom is a terrible environment for learning and it is generally better to be immersed and learning in an environment with as many real sensory cues as possible right from the start. This is why immersion is regarded as the best way to learn language although there are some caveats.
Steven Pinker has found that restricting language does limit people in their thinking, however in a generation the children build complete grammars with the language they are given and even coin new words as their experience dictates. Language is a living, evolving thing within and across generations and cannot be contained in a 1984 fashion. Nor is it wise to attempt to freeze a language you are studying, because it is a moving target. Spelling guides, pronunciation keys, dictionaries, thesauruses, quotations, encyclopedias, news was never meant to police your thinking, but to equip you to think more broadly than your current abilities. You weren’t meant to follow these books, you were meant to read to lead. The books were meant to follow you.
Memory is infinitely flexible. We are continually living a life where our mental data is accumulating and where we encounter crisis, climax and resolution or some variation mentally and we make the mental leap or stand on the cliff edge unable to evolve and cornered by our past.
Physics, Chemistry, Chronology, Geology, Psychology, Biology, Mathematics are the foundation stones of our sensory perception and our symbol systems and every one of these symbol systems evolves as we accomplish a phase change in any one due to an accumulation of exceptions until the system on which the symbols are based breaks down. We call these phase change points “zero” and “infinity”, but zero and infinity are only place holders on a continuum be it linear, geometric, exponential or hyperbolic that has yet to show a limit of any kind. All they mark are phase changes.
As Goedel demonstrated mathematically no system is complete, therefore no symbol system is complete. There will always be phenomena that have yet to be represented and cannot be represented by the present system. This is true for any language as well. Listen to the phenomenal aural vocabulary of our youth as they imitate the sounds of their environment such as instruments and devices that our previous generation never heard. Can we capture those “sound effects” with our current alphabet or icons? I listen to children and youths communicating without uttering a single word in any language. They communicate in the sounds and visual action of their home entertainment systems! Anime is creating a world of children who speak a language their parents cannot fathom unless they are watching what their children watch.
And don’t be surprised to find children are no less intelligent than we were. They don’t need the literacy we had to function in their environment quite effectively. Measures of literacy and numeracy are irrelevant justifications for perpetuating an obsolete educational system. The problem isn’t your children, it’s your educators. Your children will define what communication will be in the future and we have to learn their lingua, not teach them ours. Educators refusing to make the leap are, as Elliot said, “hollow men”. Our children’s communication tools and cognitive abilities are in many ways superior to the cognitive tricks we use to think literally and mathematically with alphabets and numbers. And that is all they are, a bag of tricks hammered into us for over twelve years. Our literacy and numeracy tools are like stone axes and bone knives compared to what our children are using now. Children can compose in video, audio, events, graphics, text, gesture and digits faster than we ever could read, rite and rithmatic with our pencils. What makes our technology so exceptional or even worth preserving? Are you still using a stone axe?
Welcome to the world of Marshall McLuhan. Make the leap and learn the new media. Let your children get on with computing.
The next time your child gets poor results on a literacy or numeracy test, tell the teachers to get their shit together and teach new media or find another job.
Love your children not your herd teachers.
2 Billion non-English speaking people are learning English as the language of international trade.
There is a very interesting presentation on TED.com by a neurologist who has come up with innovative ways of treating his patients. In the third part of his presentation he talks of Synesthesia which is the ability to experience multiple sensory perceptions in place of one. For example tasting sound or seeing touch.
He points out that there is a part of the brain that, when damaged, disables the ability to understand metaphor and disables Synesthesia. He also demonstrates that we are all synesthetes with a simple experiment.
Understanding icons, in the context of this research, is a synesthetic experience and may show that contrary to my initial reservations, there is some truth to inherent meaning in icons that may be universal.
I have a blog post that is broader in scope than this neurologist’s conclusions. You can find his presentation under “Who Is A Synesthete?”
Here’s the Link: http://blog.grantczerepak.com/2008/11/15/synesthetes/
The moment you say “blue is cool” or “red is hot” you are expressing Synesthetic metaphor.
Here’s some audio recordings from MIT interviewing Synesthetes (each is about 1 minute):
Anyone who can make metaphor is expressing their own Synesthesia. I personally think this is an area of research that should be explored to help people develop their own Synesthetic abilities. It should also be explored to help us find commonalities in Synesthetic perception to develop Icons and Icon languages.
Richard Cytowic has written a book called, The Man Who Tasted Shapes.
I don’t agree with his separation of Synesthesia from common Synesthetic experience, but his insights are worth reading.
I have just developed a set of icons to represent the seven SI Units graphically as relationships. I would welcome insights, opinions, links that might help me refine this design.
The System International Units correlation is the following:
1. radiance: candela
2. heat: kelvin
3. time: second
4. distance: metre
5. mass: kilogram
6. current: ampere
7. molarity: moles
First, I have been thinking about color. It would be possible to have only two types of triangles: black and white with black outline. The additional two shades are not essential, but are added to emphasize subordinancy.
As for the directionality of the triangles, we are actually looking at the planar faces of geometric figures, geometry not directionality. I agree, this would have to be learned.
Each icon represents a step in a progression from one state to another. In working on this I see a pattern:
1. energy: radiance
2. energy-time: heat
3. time: time
4. time-distance: speed (but not included)
5. space: distance
6. space-current: mass
7. current: soft current
8. phase: molarity: current-energy
I think the System International people have missed the brass ring. I know I am just as educated and experienced as those French bureaucrats. Probably more so.
There is also a missing anthropological element to the Units:
8. phase: molarity: current-digit (redefined)
9. numbers: numeracy: digit
10. speech: literacy: digit-calit
11. money: hard currency: calit
12. people: populacy: calit-energy
Obviously, I have to extend my model to account for five more association types. I don’t believe that will be difficult as for example there are at least two more many:many associations I did not account for or properly assign to my model.
As this is a new representation, there will be serendipitous moments. This is one of them.
A story around an icon:
2. heat can have it’s own continuum: energy-time, kelvin, sudio (sound engergy), frequency (sound time), music or audiograph (sound map), audition (sound blog), audience (sound people), auditorium (sound space). Actually, voice could be used too, because of the directionality vocio (people sound), etc.
I will work on this and post here after making the modifications.
3-D thinking is not difficult once the structure is assembled. But I am finding assembling the structure requires many visits and revisits to the basics, and the experts are not as expert as they make out.
This is a brilliant visual presentation.
Note how icons are used with minimal animation to convey the message.