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Visualisation, Environment, ECO-CUBE and Surveyors

 


S P E C I A L  S E S S I O N
(on short notice on behalf of the key-noter Noel Brown)

Proposing a Conceptual  Superstructure

Work-Report of a Vision to explore issue-scapes like virtual landscapes
by making use of Surveyors' abilities and Views
 
 

Heiner Benking
Germany


 

PREFACE - INTRODUCTION - ORIENTATION   of this keynote :

Noel Brown 1994 requested from science (surveyors and remote sensing specialists in particular) to: (emphasis Heiner Benking) The proposed Conceptual Superstructure proposed here allows:


 


Proposing a Conceptual Superstructure - A Work-Report of a Vision

to explore issue-scapes as virtual landscapes by making use of surveyors' abilities and Views

ABSTRACT
    A conception is presented to organise and visually access data and bodies of knowledge in their specific context. Hyperlinks between two reference systems (a topographical landscape and a thematic and fictive (land)scape allow uniform retrieval in one conceptual scaffold. Interface design theory and discussions on mental models and cognitive viewpoints form the theoretical aspect of the paper. Practical considerations range from knowledge organisation to the design of a world-view, which is consistent, comprehensive, and allows detailing with variable foci and theme compositions.
     The objective is to counteract missing perception of time and magnitudes and address terminological bias by increasing awareness about scales, proportions and consequences through conceptualisation and imagination. Applications in education and resource management are especially suited to improve the conception and test its acceptance or usefulness.
 


Proposition d'une superstructure conceptuelle - Rapport de travail sur une Vision

afin déxplorer la problématique des paysage suivant une approche virtuelle en utisisant les vues et expertises professionelle des géomètres

Heiner Benking - Germany

RÉSUMÉ
    On présente un concept pour accéder visuellement des données et des corps de connaissance dans leur contexte specifique. Relations entre deux systemes de réference topologie et thématique offrent un accès universelle dans un cadre conceptionel. La theorie des interfaces homme-maschine et la discussion sur des modèles mentales et des aspects cognitive forment l árrière-plan de cet article. Les consideration varie de l'organisation de connaissance à la construction d'une "vue du monde" qui est consistent, comprehensive et qui permet des foci different et la composition de different sujets.
     L'objective est de surmonter des déficits de perception en terme de temps et proportions, des ambiguités linguistique, et de donner une meilleure idée de dimensions, proportions et leurs consequences par une augmentation des capacité de cognition et d'imagination. L´application en education et en gestion des resources donneront une idée de l'acceptance et de utilisé du concept.
 


Vorschlag einer konzeptionellen Dachstruktur - Ein Arbeitsbericht einer Vision

um Themenlandschaften wie virtuelle Landschaften zu erkunden indem Fähigkeiten und Sichtweisen von Vermessungsingenieuren eingesetzt werden

ZUSAMMENFASSUNG
    Es wird eine Konzeption vorgeschlagen, um Daten und Wissensbereiche zu organisieren und optisch/visuell auch in ihrem Umfeld anzusprechen. (Hyper-)links zwischen zwei Referenzsystemen, der geographischer Land-schaft und einer fiktiven Themen-/Problemlandschaft erlauben universalen Zugriff in einem Bezugssystem. Schnitt-stellen-Design Theorie und "kognitive Einsichten" bilden den theoretischen Hintergrund. Praktische Aspekte finden sich in Fragen der Wissensorgani-sation und im Entwurf von konsistenten, umfassenden und einfachen aber hier auch maßstabsfreien und thematisch komponierbaren Weltbildern.
     Ziel ist es, der mangelnden Wahrnehmungsfähigkeiten für Veränderungen und Größenordnungen und der begriff-lichen Verwirrungen entgegenzuwirken, sowie das Bewußtsein für Dimensionen, Proportionen und deren Konsequenzen durch Einführung eines Bezugsrahmens und der Förderung der Vorstellungskräfte zu schärfen. Anwendungen in der Ausbil-dung und im Erd-Management sind besonders geeignet, die Konzepte auf Ihre Akzeptanz und Nützlichkeit zu überprüfen.


List of Content
           0.       Preliminaries
           1.      Introduction  -  The MISSION
           2.         The Problem
           3.         The VISION
           3.1       The VISION  -  Part A:  The Fictive Landscape
                           Matrix-cell combinations and flexible categories to structure information visually
                          How did the "Blackbox Nature" evolve?
           3.2       The VISION  -  Part B:  Visual Access and Assimilation
                           The ECOCUBE to present and communiate complex subjects and issues
           3.3       The VISION  -  Part C:  Twin Reference Systems form a wider Picture of the World
           4.         Some further explainations and possible applications
           5.         Summary
           6.         Acknowledgements
          Annex 1:  Words or Pictures?   -   Both!
          Annex 2:  Information Coding Classification (ICC)

          References and Literature


 0. Preliminaries
     Originally merely planned to assist Dr. Noel Brown of the UN - Environment Program in New York, for his key-note under the Title: Challenges in Search for Policy, this paper was prepared on extremely short notice to fill the vacancy and to present the perspective of a surveyor on this subject. It reflects and pre-views meetings in Ottawa  and Bratislawa  and is based on work done for the Global Change Touring Exhibition  and the World Futures Studies Conference in Turku (Benking 1993).
     The paper has to stand in its own right as a key-note address to appeal to fellow surveyors in view of the mission as given below and the possible areas of activities presented before by (Peter Byrne 1993 see this volume). It invites to take given capabilities of surveyors and apply it to new terrain and horizons, making use of new technologies. This special session was to challenge the audience and prepare for change. It was prepared as a working report, using available viewgraphs to a large extent, which help to explain what kind of projects, research, and developments have lead to the approach.
     As a technician and engineer, the author proposes to make use of genuine capabilities of surveyors, like using grids and spatial-spacial  systems with variable scales and foci. By adopting new ways of making sense and use of data; not getting drowned in the hourly increasing information, but to gain knowledge and direction from it, by filtering, qualifying, organising and storing it appropriately. This paper reviews the power of visualisation, organisation and structure of information; ways of blending human creativity and intuitive analysis with computer systems , without forgetting educational and awareness implications, to better learn and act on it. Children have been introduced to the concept and have accepted it by acknowledging the line of thought and that their View of Life needs an extension, a more universal paradigm .

One important clarification regarding the topic and its outreach:
    The paper and the concept does not in any way reflect and is applicable to subjects such as reason, which is ab-stract and disembodied. It solely proposes another organisation concept and reference system for real world, observable data, and invites additionally preselection visual access and imaginative manipulation approaches. To emphasize this statement is important to the author, because many discussions center around the term View of Life, World-View, or Picture of the World; assuming also metaphysical aspects, which are not helpful in this context. According to the (Encyclopedia of Philosophy 1992) a View of Life summarises knowledge which can be objectively described about real or physical objects or content and is based on natural sciences and theory. Beside the conventional geocentrical and heliocentrical Views of Life, an eco -centrical scale-independent View of Life, presented in the abstract form of the ECO-CUBE, is put forward the exploit the concept and potential of Space, even beyond the "big picture" outlined by (Tosta 1993). The proposed Conceptual Superstructure allows:
 

 1. Introduction  -  The MISSION
     In the context of this Special Session and in line with (Peter Ellyard 1994 in this volume) some aspects and appeals to science and in particular to surveyors and their future potentials, were developed and will be summarised briefly to prepare the ground for the proposal presented. Above mentioned speakers requested "new visions and new approaches, for the power to shape the future by creating new areas of competence and activity and mastering or moulding oneselve and reach new visions and perspectives". Dr. Noel Brown 1994 went on to quote René Dubois having said: "Our vast knowledge and technical capabilities give us the ability to anticipate the future, which carries with it a responsibility to manage the future". Dr. Brown even provided an example of a new quality, which he expects from new visions and approaches by explaining that the Earth Summit and the Agenda 21 would not have been possible "without humanity venturing into space, looking on the planet as One, thereby conceiving the Earth as a vulnerable whole, with the attendant responsibility of caring for the earth as a whole, and ensuring that the parts were made to operate in the service of the whole, the way nature does".

Noel Brown 1994 requested from science (surveyors and remote sensing specialists in particular) to:

     Revisiting such objectives is a challenge to all humankind, far beyond the individual approach in view of the capabilities of surveyors and their future faring as a profession. Some technology assessments show which technical approaches and what kind of state-of-mind might fit best to address such challenges. This is mandatory for a profession such as surveyors, in times of rapid changes in science, technologies, and culture. This paper examines above aspects of creating new Visions on the individual level, even beyond the birds eye (from orbit), panning and zooming, and develop awareness about scales, and creating artificial perspectives and insights into critical dimensions like time and magnitude. Of further concern are terms and how ambiguities in language and jargon can be better addressed (see also Galinski 1991).
     Therefore, the central message of this paper is the use of images to better categorise (Lakoff 1987), organise, and access and assimilate (Benking, Kampffmeyer 1992) the basic domains or bodies of knowledge . By exploring cognitive viewpoints in linked (mental) models and by using structures native to the human mind, information can be better channelled and focused. How messages could be filtered according to quality and source, forming core knowledge, which should be certified as "contagious" information (Weizsäcker, E.U. 1987), after beeing checked for quality, relevance, and impact. Such clearinghouse function was urged long ago (Weinberg 1963). (For further explanations and applications see also chapter 4).
 
 
The full text with figures is available from the author by request or can be found in the FIG proceedings. 

WE HAVE TAKEN HERE THE LIBERTY AND PLEASURE TO MAKE THIS PRESENTATION - WHICH WAS A REVIEW OF ONE OF THE  "RIO 92" AOUTCOMES AND INCLUDES SOME RECOMMENTATIONS ON THE WEB of the consultant and author:
 
 

Foreword - Context - Topics - Terms - Scope

Originally planned to assist Dr. Noel Brown of the UN - Environment Program in New York in his key-note address: Challenges in Search for Policy, this paper was prepared at extremely short notice to fill the vacancy left by Dr. Noel Brown and to present a surveyor's perspective on this subject. It reflects on and previews meetings in Ottawa and Bratislawa and is based on work done for the Global Change Touring Exhibition and the World Futures Studies Conference in Turku (Benking 1993). The paper should stand in its own right as a key-note address to appeal to fellow surveyors in view of the challenges ahead and list of possible areas of activities for surveyors, as presented by Byrne (1993) and in this session.

This special session was to challenge the audience and prepare for change. It was prepared as a short summary of research and development projects to present a development in the tackling of complex ecological questions. It proposes making use of new technologies, but in parallel and above all training human perception and imagination about scales and effects by approaching organisation and visualisation techniques, blending human creativity and intuitive analysis with computer systems, thereby reducing complexity by employing coherence and hierarchies.

Trained as a technician and engineer, the author proposes to make use of the genuine capabilities of surveyors, such as grids and spatial-spacial systems with variable scales and foci and apply them to new terrain and levels. The objective is to adopt new ways of making sense and use of data without getting drowned in ever increasing information and to gain knowledge and direction from applying common references. Children have been introduced to the concept and acknowledge that their View of Life needs another perspective, or a more universal paradigm.

The paper and the concept do not in any way reflect or apply to subjects such as reason, which is abstract. It solely proposes another organisational concept and reference system for observable data. Emphasising this statement is important to the author, because many discussions tend to loose themselves in the terms "View of Life, World-View, or Picture of the World", assuming also metaphysical aspects, which are not helpful in this context. According to the Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1992), a View of Life summarises knowledge that can be objectively described about real or physical objects or content and is based on natural sciences and theory. Alongside the conventional geocentric and heliocentric Views of Life, an eco-centric scale-independent View of Life, presented in the abstract form of the ECO-CUBE, is put forward to exploit the concept and potential of human unique sense of space, as a vehicle for intelligent decisions, to ease understanding in a form compatible to the human thought processes. The Greeks saw a universe only in viewable things and called it cosmos. Maybe we have to extend our possibilities to view and communicate better about issues, their proportions and consequences.
 
The proposed Conceptual Superstructure might help by allowing:
· transdisciplinary panning and zooming with varying foci

· interaction along and across hierachical scales

· documentation and more transparency, and 

· communication within common frames of reference.

Objektive Erkenntnis

Am Anfang objektiver Erkenntnis
steht also nicht ein Experiment,
sondern die Beobachtung
und der Entwurf
eines ganzheitlichen Bildes,
in dem alles Wissen und
alle Beobachtungen integriert sind.

K. R. Popper

Objective Knowledge

The beginning of knowledge
is not experiment
but rather the observation
and design of a complete picture
on which all knowledge
and all observation are integrated.

K. R. Popper (translated)

1. Introduction - The MISSION:

In the context of this Special Session and in line with Peter Ellyard (1994, in this volume), some aspects of science and appeals in particular to surveyors and their future potentials will be summarised briefly to prepare the ground for the proposal presented. Dr. Noel Brown (1994) requested "new visions and new approaches, for the power to shape the future by creating new areas of competence and activity and mastering or moulding oneself and reach new visions and perspectives". He went on to quote René Dubois as having said: "Our vast knowledge and technical capabilities give us the ability to anticipate the future, which carries with it a responsibility to manage the future". Dr. Brown even provided an example of a new quality, which he expects from new visions and approaches, by explaining that the Earth Summit and the Agenda 21 would not have been possible "without humanity venturing into space, looking on the planet as One, thereby conceiving the Earth as a vulnerable whole, with the attendant responsibility of caring for the earth as a whole, and ensuring that the parts were made to operate in the service of the whole, the way nature does".
 
 
Noel Brown (1994) requested that scientists (surveyors and remote sensing specialists in particular):

· establish common frames of reference to better gauge the human prospectus,

· develop a common understanding of the state of the environment,

· find unprecedented levels of global co-operation, and common strategies for shaping a future, that is prosperous, equitable, and sustainable,

· mobilise our best and brightest,

· harness our considerable scientific capabilities, the development of our most advanced technologies, especially those which enable us to study more systematically and in real time - just how the earth really works,

· initiate a more solid scientific foundation for the policies and strategies necessary for Earth System Management, and the design and maintenance of a sustainable future.

Revisiting such objectives is a challenge to all humankind, far beyond the individual approach in view of the capabilities of surveyors and their future success as a profession. Some technology assessments show which technical approaches and what kind of state-of-mind might best address such challenges. This is mandatory for a profession such as surveyors in times of rapid changes in science, technology, and culture. This paper examines the above aspects of creating new visions on the individual level, even beyond the bird's eye (view from orbit). By allowing panning and zooming the use of the proposal creates familarity with scales, and creates artificial perspectives and insights into critical dimensions such as time and magnitude. Also of basic concern are terms and how ambiguities in language and jargon can be better addressed (see also Galinski 1991).

Therefore the central message of this paper is the use of images to better categorise (Lakoff 1987), organise, and access and assimilate (Benking, Kampffmeyer 1992) the basic domains or bodies of knowledge. By exploring cognitive viewpoints in linked (mental) models and by using structures native to the human mind, information can be better channelled and focused. Messages may be filtered according to quality and source, forming core knowledge (Jaenecke 1994), which should be certified as "contagious" information (Weizsäcker, E.U. 1987), after being checked for quality, relevance, and impact. Such a clearinghouse function was suggested long ago (Weinberg 1963). (For further explanations and applications see also chapter 4).

2. The Problem

Many ideas have been put forward to address the problems of terminology and organisation in which data, information, messages, knowledge, wisdom and their communication and transition into other states are of major concern (Merian 1962, Didsbury 1982). Being part of the solution is worth some study and involves critical ergonomic and human issues. The author has to restrict himself in mentioning the power, including pre- and unpremeditated mis- and under-use of data and their graphical representation "decision graphics, visual demagogy" (Benking, Steffen 1985). The topics of knowledge misery, core, peripheral, pseudo-knowledge and data-hygiene are of paramount importance and have also been nicely collated by Jaenecke (1994) and are more generally described in (CONNEX 94).

The lack of perception and sense of orientation has to do with the loss of values and the lack of ability to find a place, a position, and a perspective in society. We find children revolting against anonymous oppression and reacting violently when overexposed to media, before reverting to apathy; on the other hand, children are more aware and concerned about a human scale society (Knowledge Spiral 1993).

The study of global communication and the media age, and appropriate concepts and mechanisms on the ethical and political level to check negative effects are considered mandatory. Without being aware and applying control and filtering, information overload will have serious implications, both in regard to generations loosing a sense of purpose in life and contact with the real world. As recent studies indicate, the human brain is very flexible and restructures/adapts to a measurable degree in very short periods of time, therby increasing the ability to live in dissonance and as an observe only. Remarkable differences between age-groups are already discernible and show that media exposure without physical analogue leaves new generations handicapped. We might call it a growing unconsciousness, but how can we counteract it? - As the philosopher Habermas has pointed out: modern society is confronted with a de-coupling of the expert knowledge-culture and reality. We seem to live more and more in a world which is over-specialised and thereby compartmented, obstructing transparency and practical insights. A lack of organisation and attachment might be the central problem; managing space and objects, physically and mentally, might be the treatment indicated.

The above are not all new problems, but these remain a challenge to scientists, and to some extent also to workers and explorers of physical and theoretical spaces. Geographers were the first to extend the scope of their science, Surveyors should continue to provide the fundament: grids, dimensions, directions and object catalogs.

3. The VISION

This vision implies a concept aimed at organizing and visualising human problems and potential (UIA 1992) but also activities and visions (Albery 1992) by making use of imagination, grids and catalogues, and referencing. The scaffolding approach which can accommodate flexible foci, themes, positions, and perspectives is critical.

Designing crystal cells or "pigeon holes" to contain data or knowledge has some appeal. As a warehouse has shelves which we can approach by identifying visual, tactile, and motor spaces, we can learn to move objects in a imaginary "universal" warehouse. Learning to make better use of sensori- audiomotoric perception of space is the basic step. Keeping the "store" (repositories) in order with good care and communication is a challenging task. Design of an optimal "store" and developing and maintaining pathfinders (terms already in use for data management) to better navigate in the universe of observable things, might be the way. Properly designed data systems can help to manage and train our perception in this respect. How we view and use space is of critical importance.

This Proposal of how to structure and handle the plethora of available daily increasing data and information consists of three basic parts:

A.  To define the ECO-CUBE as the basic reference space for thematic data and information with the axis definitions of discipline/subject, time and magnitude/size. The intention is to plot specified data or knowledge in a normalised, orthogonal, repeatable and simple form - Part A.

B.  To "oversee" and orient/accustom oneself in the specific domains visually (without being limited by discipline definitions and specific jargon), which means avoiding as best as possible terminological ambiguities or cultural bias by rough navigation and orientation of the subjects in question before accessing catalogues and thesauri (L. videre= to see and recognise) - Part B.

C.  To link a topographic reference with a thematic reference. This strategy is considered necessary to match and classify objects in the real world more appropriately, congruently and predictively and to address more universally objects, subjects, and issues concerning Man and Nature - Part C.
 

3.1 The VISION - Part A: The Imaginary Theme-scape

The Concept and Development of the Hyperlink ECO-CUBE

The author has "borrowed" the definitions for the three axes of the Cube: TIME; SCALE, and SUBJECT (diCastri, Hadley 1985-88) and has tested the universal applicability during the last seven years (see also literature and chapter 4). Describing the System Earth in the Global Change touring exhibition for the German Chancellery, Lange, Benking, et.al. (1990) used this three dimensional scheme and called the subject dimension (bio)diversity. In this way the dimensions could be named Complexity, Differentiation, and Dynamics. As we learned recently the Australian geographer R.G. Cant had already used a similar Cube concept with the dimensions: Phenomenon, Position and Time in 1969! The particular terms or labels for the dimensions are of little importance as long as they are meaningful, simple and universal; what is critical is the orthogonal design with "normalised" entities and the usage of the concept beyond words.

Creative catalytic imagery and the communication bandwidth are decisive if we are to arrive at other qualities by using our "Inner Eye". One positive effect of using an "agreed upon" framework: views and positions can be located, better communicated, and repeated.

Given the volume and heterogeneity of highly differentiated and ambiguous information, a new concept merging human and machine power seems appropriate. But we must keep in mind that man, being the threshold to creativity and imagination, makes use of number-crunching and visual volume processing only as a supportive action rather than what is critical for the overall concept.

Architects and geographers, as well as town and state planners, are used to organising and structuring data and to looking for a synthesis in complex, heterogeneous and voluminous issues. The planner Doxiades for example, with the Ekistic grid, made use of visual recognition according to a comprehensive structuring system. Visual inspection and differentiation is one of the key elements in the chain of methods proposed. Using as an example the representation of the Ekistics was therefore the logical step. Projecting the Ekistic grid into the third dimension Time was also already anticipated. For more information and how content can be displayed in one graph, instead of key-words or abstracts, presenting context and qualitative information, see Doxiades (1968).

Besides the organisation and classification schemes of Ekistics, there are various schemes introduced to structure available subjects in a congruent and systematic way. Best are systems which are close to the inherent structures of the real world and which allow the combining of knowledge beyond the collections and terms, or jargon of specific disciplines or groups. Only a few organisation schemes allow for the presention of relations between the main categories in visual form.

One such practical universal system, even broader than the Ekistik classification, has been developed as the Information Coding Classification System (ICC) during the last 20 years by Dahlberg (1994 and Annex) . Such a system can be easily translated into other schemes and referenced to other more detailed discipline oriented classification systems. It is important to note that such systems can coexist and can be linked with modern hyperlink technology, and can help flexibly structure the critical non-linear terminological axis in the twined three-dimensional reference system combination proposed in Part C.

Matrix-cell combinations and flexible categories to structure information visually

Our eye can identify information and structures easily. The use of a grid to structure information helps to organise information according to the dimensions and scales selected. Using a grid is actually a trick to better utilise human capabilities. By properly structuring and positioning the information, later processing can be made much easier.

The basic grid of the first box has 3x3x3 cells. If we use 5x5x5 cells, we can already structure and detail very complex situations and see "at a glance" areas of concern or interest. The 5 cell cube shows for example a working area of towns and regions in the natural and social context studying settlements before Christ and the disciplines involved in the research. This image can show where a colleague is working, and might be the search key for an indexing and graphical retrieval system.

The Rubik's Cube of Ecology has just 3 categories for each side: Inanimate-, animated Nature, and Culture; Micro-, meso-, macro-scale; past, present, and future. Ekistics have used much more detailed systems with 5 categories: Nature, Man, Society, Infrastructure, Structure (Shell). The Blackbox Nature has 7 categories: Theoretical Natural Sciences, Applied Natural Sciences, Geo-, Life-, Economic-, Social- and Cultural- Sciences or the ICC (Dahlberg 1994).

Ekistics, as a science, structures the impact of human activities. Main categories are: economic, social, political, administrative and technical sciences and art. This organising and classification scheme is used, for example, to classify articles in the Ekistics Journal visually and thereby help readers to identify topics of concern at a glance, by just browsing through the pages and looking at the grid at the top of the page. This example shows the potential of information, classified and organised in a meaningful way, in an easily accessible layout. In the field of urban planning, individual and community requirements cover large volumes of complex and interdependent data. The science of the broad and complex field of "human settlements" is called Ekistics, derived from the Greek word oikos. The Cube is just a concept across scales, holding similar structures and rules at all orders of magnitude, for example, planet, country town, house, plant..., The actual axis description is of secondary importance. It may be a logarithmic scale which covers larger quantities or periods, or other flexible categories which can provide a reference into another system.

The Dimensions - A Grid projected in time

Each Category has many sub-categories; they are structured in a hierarchical way, called a thesaurus in technical or linguistic applications. In each science we have general thesauri to differentiate fields or topics down to the finest detail. Precision in each discipline must be considered as an advantage of specialisation. But there is a disadvantage, the lack of overview and exchange with neighbouring fields. Therefore, a growing demand is building up to develop "wild" cross-disciplinary relationships and look at them in a holistic way. Bridging disciplines and hierarchical levels or horizons and interacting along and across scales is required for people studying the multi-disciplinary field of Ecology. This does not only apply to Ecology, but to the exchange between experts of different disciplines in general.

If each body of knowledge is represented in the crystal cell framework, it is easy to highlight trans-disciplinary subjects in one reference frame. Visual inspection, alongside a computer-based visualisation, can help to illuminate issues and their scope. Proposing a three-dimensional badge, like an ISBN numbers, was the next logical step for portraying bodies of knowledge in their context. Instead of sketching with a few lines and symbols a complex situation and having others guess what it means, we can describe subjects by just locating "crystal" cells in the Cube. Consequently, effects of neighbourhood or directions then come "automatically" or more associatively into view . With the focus on time and change in many sciences and applications, not only in Economy and Ecology, we have a much more complex multi-dimensional "scene". But how do we see, understand, and "envision" it? - Why not create a scene, as a composer creates a mental picture of his piece of music before he goes to the piano, or the architect sees his design and understands the spaces and rooms and functions, even before the building is erected? A design of Nature includes more dimensions than just the physical dimensions x, y, and z.

Due to the fact that we can only visualise three dimensions in a single picture, it was necessary to select three arbitrary axis descriptions. The definition of Ecology, which requires interaction along and across disciplines, magnitudes and time scales, was selected as being the most comprehensive and meaningful.

How did the "Blackbox Nature" evolve?

The ECOCUBE to present and communiate complex subjects and issues
 
 

3.2 The VISION - Part B: Visual Access and Assimilation

(Hu)man(kind) sees further than it can think, is an idiom which can be found in many languages. This paper intends to harness these visual powers, and will focus on how to identify structures in volumes of heterogeneous and inconsistent information. The combination of structures and patterns catalyses and brings about new qualities and insights.

Not only paintings or pictures, but also cross-cultural information, jokes, idioms, and metaphors can in a few lines describe an overall, or governing idea. The concept of the "Ecological View-of-Life" refers to training of the brain to "compute" in pictures, to compare structures more often, and to think in pictures and metaphors (as a very high form of abstraction which can be more easily communicated across language or cultural barriers, and which has various creative and catalytic positive side-effects.

Pragmatic aspects of proper structural analysis and of the comparison of structures to find appropriate tools and technologies has to our knowledge to date not been systematically exploited. Perception of space and navigating in spaces, cells or "rooms", or quarters (see the townscape discussion in the field of knowledge organisation), has a very basic cognitive dimension and training is required to get used to combining perceptions in stereo models and navigate in these real or artificial environments. Research efforts in the field of perception, cultural context, differentiation and navigation have been going on for some time. But only with the development of advanced graphics and hyperlink technology can some new developments be envisioned.

Visual access strategies have been previously described and presented (Benking 1993). They can be summarised here as a powerful approach, close to human conceptualisation and memorisation capabilities. Early school training, in combination with computer systems and graphical support,might augment human capabilities and help in the orientation and mastering of the information glut.

If children can be enticed by simple pictorial content, and take pleasure in exploring the concepts presented, a first step has been made. Details to any desired depth may be added using electronic referencing and documentation aids. This is an issue for media games or puzzles, triggering imagination, and training structural combinations and realizing semantic topologies.

Another critical part of this concept is the combination of linear and non-linear scales. Through inspection and visual intuitive approaches, missing data or bodies of knowledge can be identified easily. For details on disciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity,.. and "harmonisation within and between applications and organisations". (Keune, et.al. 1991) and in particular their specific challenge to mankind see di Castri, Hadley (1986). As proposed, some separate fields of knowledge will no longer be perceived as different because of their cultural, semantic lineage; but instead their similarity and structure will be observable and lead inevitably to integration. A "Picture of the World and Knowledge Organisation" and some work on coding and classification schemes are a prerequisite (Krushanow 1993).
 
 

3.3 The VISION - Part C: Twin Reference Systems form a wider Picture of the World

Combining topographic (reality) with thematic (imaginary) referencing

A comprehensive picture of the world is necessary to map, structure and combine available information. This section argues that there is no general unified vision accepted which also incorporates dimensions like space, time and size. But this seems necessary or helpful in view of the information overload and the need to identify data and their use and relevance.
 
 
Constituents of the proposal to structure and classify uniformly are:

· Regarding space as a mechanism to reduce complexity.

If the subject is too broad, why not use combinations of spacial co-ordinate systems

or making use of human conceptual and imaginative power.

·  Bridging (links, fusion, superimposition) of incompatible terminology and approaches.

With the advent of Hyperlinks and Hyperknowledge (Radermacher 1992) the field of linking subjects and clarifying the relationships among taxonomies and semantics is evolving rapidely. Surveyors in particular can develop a unique approach to handling both, spacial and spatial data, develop object catalogues, and maintain repositories. They have been explorers and navigators in many fields, always providing new and unifying visions which set new horizons and open new terrain, a new terra incognita.

Before we study inner or outer boundaries of bodies of knowledge and how the bridging and fusion could be achieved, we have to realise that geography has already started to move away from a plain geographic space science to considering space as an element of social communication. The term gr. "chora" has the meaning of "space/location" and also "content" and that is what this proposal is all about. The capabilities to navigate and register space can also be applied to mental models. We realise not only then that our thinking is very much based on spacial metaphors and paradigms. The approach arbitrarily selects sets of real-world co-ordinates and relates them to the thematic box coordinates, cells or slots of the ECO-CUBE. Experience and acceptance will show which co-ordinates should be selected for which purpose and which other "boxes" should be linked.
 
 

Six-dimensional coupled synthetic reference paradigm as a master reference scheme.

Thematic reference schemes can be linked on demand

Two combined spaces relate perception and existence; communication relates context and experience
 

LATE NOTE (Febr. 2001):
At that time in 1994 the development to include a third space, the Cognitive Panorama, with the help of Mrs Dahlbergs ICC was not in a stage ready to be widely pubizised. Please the figure below and consult more recent literature:





We use two referenced spaces which can be easily coded. Ranges of any of the axes can be explored and cell combinations envisioned. Using three-dimensional spaces and combining them in a meaningful way is a contribution to human mental orientation and conceptionalisation powers. Any structure beyond three dimensions is hard to imagine and even harder to communicate!

With such a holistic referencing approach we map synergistic or holistic issues by describing some aspects of integrative and transdisciplinary thought. There is no need to point out that missing links and slots are areas which raise attention visually and often prove critical since they are often disregarded. See also the analysis of "holes" or singularities and approaches with morhological boxes, synectics, etc. in many sciences, to check completeness and consistency). The term "Querdenken" in German (diagonal and integrative thinking) is considered unconventional but appropriate and sensible in a twinned co-ordinate system. Paradigms are in progress (Henderson 1992) and we need to define scales to plot proportions and consequences, otherwise we will end up in subjective cyberspaces lacking common references.

4. Summary

Managing Earth resources and Human Dimensions programs requires common frameworks and understanding. Testing the concept with children was worth all the effort and has proved much more basic than any singular research or theoretical approach. But combining education with an overall reference and hierarchical order system should win some critical review and hopefully improve the private, and in most cases voluntary efforts.

Combining the approaches of medicine and ecology (see footnote 1), advanced research transcending scales will bring about new views and results at all levels. With good reason one medical scientist (Carrel 1936) has noted, "that our store of knowledge has become disordered". Since we don't care about quality and order, the oversee-ability has been lost. Carrel urged "knowledge to be represented in concise and synthetic form".

One objective and challenge is to combine human capabilities and computer systems and, in parallel, train unique capabilities of the creative, but underexplored human mind. A positive side-effect might be a contribution to the interface design theory discussion and development, which requires extensive research.

To identify and map a complex scene like the environment is a challenge. We are tempted to simplify complex objects for better understanding and communication. However the problem of oversimplification should not be discarded. Tools and approaches are put forward for discussion to allow better understanding and to help select the best possible approach to the many obvious, but still not completely addressed issues, such as overpopulation, socio-economic and environmental regional conversion (ASZE 1993).

The main idea is to use (due to the limited conceptual dimensions of man) interlinked 3-dimensional models or reference systems with modern non-linear hyperlink technology - one is the conventional real world co-ordinates reference system, the other a imaginary "landscape" or world, with artificial viewpoints and perspectives. The resulting six-dimensional reference system can be handled, easily communicated, and might help to counteract the omnipresent information overkill.

Central points are imaginary or fictitious/artificial viewpoints, and a scaffolding, or superstructure, to help index, organise, and link areas of expertise, bodies of knowledge, activities or project scopes, problems and possible solutions/experience. Access, assimilation, and implementation strategies, cover the subject of database design and ergonomic, fault tolerant, multi-terminological approaches to data and knowledge and contribute to the harmonisation, comparability and compatibility debate. This approach is centered around the discussions on cognitive viewpoints and mental models, technological and policy issues, creativity and imagination and some organisational and educational aspects. The concept of using grids and co-ordinates is not at all new. The author has been working toward the Blackbox CUBE concept since 1987 and learned later that historical geography has used concepts to plot a cube with the axes phenomena, location, and time (Hartshorne 1959). New is with advances of computer technology to create hyperlinks, and have the appropriate performance to manage intelligently quality controlled data .

The paradigm of twinned reference "worlds" is to the knowledge of the author new. It might prove simple enough to be have some impact on how we manage our Planet Earth, understand our place, and jointly develop some consciousness about the proportions and consequences involved. The key is contagious communication hitting the point within "common frames of reference".

Communication should, for this purpose, be better broad-banded (visualisation is just one part of the spectrum) and can in this way help "engender" by bringing together different viewpoints and realities. Perhaps we can address the challenges to policy by training and cultivating the "Eye of Experience" (gr. phronesis) by looking at the subjects carefully and gaining experience and feeling for proportions and consequences in an imaginary space "sandbox", or situation rooms, as has been laid out by Lamson (1981).

We experience cognitive breaks and an asymmetry between specialisation and generalisation which is widening because science is still discipline-, rather than task- and solution-oriented as Vester (1980) suggested. By being confronted with facts and dimensions and being forced to map them within "common references", it may be possible to collect enough resources and to act upon the challenges laid before us. Dr. Brown (1994) saw change in Earth politics only after man in orbit saw the planet in its wholeness, fragility, and virtue. Now we have to design new pictures and secure hospitable houses and neighbourhoods.

Surveyors will have to work with "architects" (for "infrastructure", household (oikos) and human interfaces); such architects are "leading artists" (gr. architekton) who master the fine and exact arts and communicate to policy makers! They are trained to envision and design in space and time. Maybe together we can address the issues and have better command and more real understanding of the challenge to science and politics ahead (see again Lange, Benking, et.al. 1990) as clearly laid before the trade of surveyors by Brown in his opening words.

5. Acknowledgements

The GeoJournal Trilogy: Enhancing the Credibility of Ecology (diCastri, Hadley 1985-1988) synergized the research efforts done in various projects. The concept of Blackbox Nature and how sections, or slants of Life could be incorporated into one body of data (Benking, et al. 1985-1990). The Trilogy has initialised the line of thought presented here, and given a fine metaphor in a twofold positive sense - By describing the "Interaction along and across hierarchical scales" to understand processes, patterns and constraints, and by describing scale as a broad term representing not just size, but size with proportions and consequences. With this guideline we can plot issues, bridge topics and map physical and terminological aspects. Comparing the impact of modern communication technology on research today with the microscope in the sixteenth century, diCastri and Hadley have indeed initiated a line of thought. This comparison is a fine example for the catalytic of power of metaphors (Judge 1993). "Panning and zooming" in new, even non-linear fields or realms, is really exciting and has some charm thanks to Hadley and diCastri. They should be acknowledged more widely for their work and genuine concepts. Such Visions provide the fertile ground needed to reach for goals in the stars as set by policy makers as described. Thanks again for the drive and insights needed by people looking for orientation and directions.

Some parts of the concepts described might lead to, or have some resemblance, to older cultural wisdom. The I-Ging for example presents core knowledge in a synthetic form, beyond reason or scale. The Sufis teach. "If you want to solve a Problem, take your own Viewpoint out" and we should not forget that this is a mental exercise. Some other hints and warnings can be found in literature, like Herman Hesse's "Glass Bead Game" by accusing the intellectual elite in society of a lack of insights and pointing out that they must serve something wider and deeper than themselves. Instead he sees them leaning towards self-praise and self-glorification, towards the development and cultivation of intellectual specialities. Hesse's description of their useless and most expensive form of intellectual activity rings a bell. They relate in their glass bead game a whole range of symbols, from mathematics via history and grammar to music and meditation. The crystal cell framework has to function and present the total opposite! It has to work not primarily by free association, but by consistent and repeatable reasoning, augmenting the "Eye of Experience". Avoiding language barriers between disciplines by developing specific common referenced code might be an alternative to uncontrolled and unstructured fantasy of Cyberworlds.

The list of people guiding me and providing fundamental support willingly or without realising it will always be incomplete. The following individuals come to mind: Alfred Schinz, Robert Jungk, Edgar Westrum, Anthony Judge, Wolf Tietze, Howard Didsbury, Ernst-Ulrich v. Weizsäcker, Michael D. Gwynne, Wolf-Dieter Grossmann, Josef Schwitte, Franz-Josef Radermacher, Hartmut Keune, Ulrich Weiß, Anton Kaiser, William R. Adamson, Peter Byrn, and John Parker. I would like to thank them all for their interest, patience, serenity, and their professionalism.
 
 

Annex 1: Some further explanations and possible applications: ACTIONS
 
· Reviving "theorein" in its original meaning: Order or organisation without theory is not possible. Proposing a conceptual scaffolding, or superstructure, to map knowledge and action a critical step. Perhaps the cognitive viewpoint, as proposed, might provide insights. The Gr. word "theorein" demonstrates the necessary combination of to see, to have and to provide insight. The basic steps are from analysis to synthesis, from diagnosis to therapy, and from theory to Life, without thinking bigger than Life. And this has to be done by combining and relating validated and agreed upon information. The Weinberg Report (1963) and Riggs (1985) have set the direction and we will see if ways can be found to at least structure our Core Knowledge (Jaenecke 1994) in a more meaningful and consistent way. "Embryonic" Cube developments like the ECOCUBE or the World Press Centre (WPC) London concept are reviewed "in regard to what is going on" (o'Connors 1994).

· Some processes to harness ideas can be easily explained by transferring structures and processes from one context or scale to another. To plot such a solution and to determine where these structures originated is easy with the CUBE scaffolding. To explain the quality and procedure of approaches which produce ideas, like micro-macro transfers or other archetype based idea generation techniques, see Morawa (1979, 1989). His generating creativity to a measurable degree, is presented to provide examples of the Power of Visualisation. Such "Quickstorming" technology is based on archetypes (simplified icons or pictures) to structure and guide the creative process and train fast creative thinking.

· Surveyors should make use of their mapping, orientation, exploration and navigation expertise; map and exploit new domains and realms and exploit new domains. Approaches depend very much on the objectives, cultural and educational aspects, and how technologies are used for better or worse. If we surveyors additionally build Bridges and check Master Plans (Benking 1992) in new terrains and have some "construction" going regarding current issues like Information Highways and Collaboratories (NSF 1993, Benking, et al 1994), we have not lost track of the path between hazards and challenges.

· How easily, when exposed to the right Spirit of Play, transfers and insights can be obtained. See presentations to the widest range of database experts at CODATA (BENKING 1992) These database experts defined their area of expertise in the form of a 3-D tag. Similar to a 3-D ISBN number forming an access key raised new questions, stimulated laughter and interest in transfer-issues and might be able to help develop diagonal thinking.

· Another major area of possible application is the linking of structures and situations with collections of information, including encyclopaedias, which identify problem areas, solution potentials or visions, in addition to conventional databases. Examples include Encyclopedias (Albery 1993, UIA 1991), and other repositories.

· Mapping political discourse is another area where it is helpful to define more precisely the nature of the topic. By providing "location and context" for problems, solutions and resources we have a chance to outline topics in quite different ways and can insure that arguments match the issue (see also IBIS Issue-Based Information Systems (Isenmann 1993). The possibility of describing the reasoning of old and new governance systems, like Panetics (Siu 1994), which help to view and compare decision in the light of minimum impact or suffering, is another issue. Work is under way for the World Population and Development Conference in Cairo (United Nation Population Fund) to improve the communication about the impact of decisions taken in view of the carrying capacity and population density of our planet and to develop perspectives.

· The futurist and writer Robert Jungk has been thinking "deeply" by envisioning and promoting the concepts of international repositories like the "Encyclopedia of World Problems ..." and urging that the ideas related to the ECOCUBE be tested and improved by, and with children. On various occasions this has been done with some success (Benking 1993, Knowledge Spiral - International Children Communication Camp).

· Interface Design Theory, though a major aspect of the design and feasibility considerations, is not covered adequately in this paper. The user very often has no idea about the content or syntax of a specific database or repository, and would like to depict the domain of interest and not necessarily learn how he can access by specific strokes, codes and acronyms. The human mind is much faster at identifying and distinguishing when recognising what it is looking for, instead of following a specific, often unfamiliar terminology. Croze (1983) called it the sectoral data trap. See also Hoetker (1991) for cultural bias. It is important to modify query and result presentation interactively, play with queries and responses and thereby come closer to the targeted issue or concern. Combining structural and logical paradigms with virtual reality paradigms is the challenge of this applications only recently possible with modern communication systems. The discussion as to whether, and if mental models exist to portray such broad themes and how user interfaces can initiate and stimulate cognitive activities is just beginning. Some experts feel that domain semantics for themes like the environment are too complex to be held in mental models. Others prefer "trial and error" on a visual basis by depicting items, until finally the user can see what he wants. How a conceptual scaffolding might help to avoid getting lost is the key question of this article and of ongoing research.

Annex 2:  Information Coding Classification (ICC)
pleae see literature or how we apply it "nowadays" in know- or interest-map new search paradigm "pattern languages", see powerpoint FOLIO
 

Annex 3: Thesis 1-10 - Our View of the World is too Flat     was first presented at WFSF in Turku in 1994
 
Thesis 1:
A framework is required to allow the individual to find his place in the universe and develop an overall perspective. It is also necessary to relate information in repositories with observations about the world and with individual viewpoints. Some sense of harmony will result when one comes to understand the global perspective and realises that each individual is an integral part of the whole, just as each brick is an integral part of the wall. This realisation will help to combat feelings of apathy and futility. It is important that this concept models only the physical universe, and thus leaves open the possibility of influence by spiritual forces.

Thesis 2: 
Children grow up in a world of separated fields, and are encouraged through intense competition to specialise at an early age. The increasing demand for holistic and integrated approaches to system- and process-oriented concepts is contradicted by efforts to limit the natural exploratory tendencies of children. Once these tendencies are suppressed, it is often not possible to counteract a transformation which has results in an analytic being devoid of spirituality and creativity.

Thesis 3: 
Ecology is not presented as a multi-disciplinary field because only sector-oriented and causal thinking, as opposed to system-oriented thinking, are taught. Such a multi-disciplinary perspective can thus only be obtained through broad practical and physical experience. A conceptual image, which is more than just a mental framework and an associated paradigm, is therefore difficult to achieve.

Thesis 4: 
Individuals feel helpless and powerless because they don't perceive their contribution or their relationship to the world as a whole. The result is apathy and abdication of responsibility based on the lack of a perception that action or inaction on the part of the individual will have an impact on the overall system.

Thesis 5: 
Only through localisation of effect in space and time is a feeling of deep knowledge created. Reference to the environment or neighbourhood are essential to developing practical approaches to problems and improved learning.

Thesis 6: 
There is a necessity to develop a new networking nomenclature which can additionally contain imagery of various dimensions and metaphors. Such catalytic "concept-language" simplifies and speeds communication and allows mediation of complex decision scenarios. The resulting unified "terminology/"imageology"/"metaphorology" allows multi-dimensional thought and helps to identify cultural differences in expression and understanding. The present use of language does not allow distinct terminology, only relative terms, which require pictures and metaphors to make the point, especially in multi-dimensional domains.

Thesis 7:
Since children appreciate the use of simple pictures and stories to explain complex relations, this form of communication should be seriously considered. Children seem to think visually, but this technique is underexploited and not completely understood. That catalytic powers of thinking and speaking in pictures are supressed is readily seen in comparing cultural differences in memorisation.

Thesis 8: 
The process self-discovery and the development of self-esteem are strongly related to the concepts of home and intimacy. If the boundaries of thought and perception are extended, for example from village to country to planet, adequate concepts for thoughts are required for improved imagination, mapping, and living according to such expanded perceptions. Imagery which supports this expanded context, the reference to details, and related knowledge and experience, creates advanced creativity and catalytic possibilities, and thus allows for deeper insight.

Thesis 9: 
One major problem is the lack of experience with and feeling for spatial and time scales. They must be experienced outside of the conventional range of individual observation, and have direct implications for relationships with and management of natural resources. Without a perception of scales and dimension, there is no space for responsibility and ethics.

Thesis 10: 
Imagination and creativity are wasted if an early "fun and games" approach to obtaining a capability for making mental transitions between structures, subjects, scales, and relationships is not taken. The word intuition in the Greek and Roman sense included inspiration in a parallel mode: seeing the overall picture at a single glance, followed by perusal of the details. The trick is to learn to oscillate between these forms of mental exercise and thereby foster ingenuity. The definition of ecology as "interaction along and across hierarchical scales" requires techniques such as zooming, panning, overlaying, system dynamics oriented functional linking. The use of imagery, concepts, and metaphors to trigger mental traversal of these scales is crucial. These techniques utilise creative and analytical capabilities in parallel, and therefore result in dramatic increases in quality and speed of response.

Thesis 11: 
If we can show the various phenomena of nature in a single framework, we will have a universal system for perceiving nature in time and space (Natur-Raum-Zeit). Understanding the interaction and communication between individual processes, and the unique position and importance of each contribution, a new sense of responsibility and community-oriented thinking may develop.

Thesis 12: 
A new dialogue with nature requires the concept of a web forming the whole (Ilya Prigogine). With hierarchical self-similar structure (as in the Chinese Feng Shui concept), a new cosmopolitical and universal thinking may develop with images and patterns crossing new horizons and domains. If children can be enticed by such simple pictorial content, and take pleasure in exploring these concepts, a first step has been made. Detail to any desired depth may be added later using electronic referencing and documentation aids.

Annex 3:  Words or Pictures? - Both!

Metaphors, idioms, and poetry present in a highly condensed form a broad spectrum of aspects which are hard to describe in any other form of communication. The ignite pictures and call memory which is powerful but individually very different. Anyway this collection might be able in its totality to cover the concept quite nicely.

FIGURES PRESENTLY unavailable

Annex 4: Highlights

 
Technical:
· Proposing an additional framework for indexing in conjunction with real world co-ordinates. Mapping and referencing relates to the land-scape and to an artificial problem- or issue- scape. Change of perspectives and position are thereby encouraged

· Triggering human powers of imagination by extending, linking, and overlaying domains and challenging segmentation, compartmentalisation, and over- specialisation

· New approach by adding a third dimension (time) to conventional matrix organisation schemes (Ekistics) and utilising visual (optical) discrimination and recognition potentials

· The "Blackbox Nature" features a logical development, based on electronic archiving, hyperlink and computer graphics / multi media technology

· Facilitating and inviting switching of scales to better understand processes, patterns, and constraints

· Proposing an universal classification and coding system

· A framework to orient entries in existing data collections, such as the "Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential", "The Book of Visions", or other conventional collections from private or public institutions


 
Philosophical:
· Interconnected "digestible" box thinking relating to adjoining spaces instead of simplistic "inside the box" or "outside the box" discrimination

· Framework which provides an internal hierarchical order like the Chinese Feng Shui and forms a scale-independent web required for the new dialogue with nature (Ilya Prigogine) - the crystal cells may be considered the meeting and anchor points

· A framework of crystal cells, representing the position of objects, issues or entities (in contrast to the unstructured free association of issued in Hesse's "Glass Bead Game"). The obvious context and linkages help in exploiting intuitive and analytical powers and invite diagonal thinking with variable scales and foci

· Extended panorama to provide common frames of references providing better focus on the point or on the issue


 
Practical:
 
· For children to visualise context, complexity, and completeness by providing a common foundation by pulling together all fields of study into a more understandable unity

· For research and administration to link subjects and invite transdisciplinarity

· By zooming along and across hierarchical scales increasing scaling perceptions and thereby allowing better understanding and decision-making.

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