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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


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

The proposed Conceptual Superstructure allows:

    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.

    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.

    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.


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