Thinking, Understanding, Developing, Communicating

Media has a future. Future developments in media point to more fertile ground for cognitive systems:

…a new kind of medium for thinking, amplifying the interplay between wide and narrow, world and focus, creating cross-data type continuities/correlations in a multi-media environment that may be fertile ground for cognitive systems.

What is a medium? What is its purpose? In any domain. Let’s put some thoughts together on this. A medium helps people think and understand whatever it is they are trying to imagine. It helps them develop this. And then, as what was nascent becomes more established, it helps them communicate to others, again in support of understanding. A medium is for thinking, understanding, developing, and communicating.

Still overall, the question, what is a medium, remains mysterious, permanently so I’m sure, but there are a couple of aspects worth thinking about. There are two threads. One is widening, expansive. The other is narrowing, focusing. There is constant interplay between these two modes. We can look into this and will find always an interplay between the two modes, the wide and the narrow. This is true in any domain, including in ordinary daily life. There is the expansive, widening mental representation of the world around us, and there is the narrowing action of choosing what matters, and focusing on it. Note that thought is action, described so well by Peirce, in his famous paper in 1878, “HOW TO MAKE OUR IDEAS CLEAR”.

The two modes are in constant interplay and inform each other. What we choose to focus on and develop/articulate in a narrower way deepens our understanding, of that narrowing, and at the same time the narrowing fleshes out and enlivens our understanding of the wider expanse, the whole environment, the world around us. The reverse is true as well.

Risking overemphasis, the interplay between the two modes is and always has been the operative mechanism of understanding. A cat chasing its mouse, and the mouse finding its escape, both rely on the (their) mind’s interplay between wide and narrow (the world, and what to focus on), in support of understanding, and action.

The same is true in technical and scientific and artistic fields (for humans). I studied architecture and worked for years afterward developing models and drawings. It occurred to me at some point after doing it a long time, that today’s software tools are mistreating these basic modes. They treat them as if one could replace the other. Or, alternatively, they propose that models can automate drawings (or partially automate them). And that’s fine, but it just comes up far too short. It doesn’t represent or even recognize what’s really going on in each of these dual modes (narrow and wide), nor does it do anything to amplify the interplay between them, which is the essential mechanism of cognition. In other words, compared to what’s possible, today’s software does very little to improve support for thinking, understanding, developing, and communicating. What’s possible today is an amplification of this interplay between wide and narrow, between world and focus, in support of understanding and action.

I’m proud of what we worked on (<<click link) while I worked at Bentley Systems. It’s a small, but important beginning. I came to Bentley with an idea, 8 years ago, that drawings should exist IN models, acting there to develop narrowing focus in support of understanding.

So what’s next? What comes after that?

I see the future in two parts.

The first part is described here (click link) and could expand much further. There is a long road to travel on in part 1. What I mean is, there is no fear of running out of roadway in the coming decades. The blog link here in part 1 includes a description of the work, a link to examples, and a description of the idea driving it, summarized as:

  • Models are environments (or worlds). Models are expansive, widening.

And both of these are in progression, or should be. So indeed there are two progression threads:

  1. (imaginary models)|—>>(BIM)|—>>(the future of modeling)
  2. (hand drawing)|—>>(CAD)|—>>(the future of “drawing”)

The idea of two paths of progression in constant interplay, as above, contrasts with the idea of a solo progression (from hand drawing to CAD to BIM) as represented by the “Bew – Richards Graph“.  Very briefly I remark on that graph and draw a new graph here representing two strands (red and green) in continuous progression and interplay.

The second part involves IBM Watson (click link) in the following way.:

This work in part 1 will contribute, eventually, in an important way, to cognitive computing, in any domain in which understanding of complex spatial environments is desired. What we’ve done is a kind of preparation of spatial data. The preparation (I believe) makes (will make) data better connectable, better reachable by cognitive systems. We’ve just scratched the surface. Much more can be done to demonstrate many more kinds of techniques that can be deployed within spatial media, both

  • to help designers imagine and develop nascent environments,
  • and on the other side, to communicate to others in support of understanding.

The act of doing this, creates a new kind of medium for thinking, understanding, developing, and communicating, for and among humans, amplifying the interplay between wide and narrow, world and focus. But it also, it seems clear to me, is going to create cross-data type continuities/correlations that may be fertile ground for cognitive systems.

I want to work with people who would like to find out if this is true.

Did I mention I’m available for hire? Let’s work on this together.

Email Me


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