Fragments, figments, observations and experiments

nervous notes . . .

This publication copyright©1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005...2015 by Dr. John Griffiths
last updated Friday, May 26, 2017

TEAHOUSETEAHOUSE DEMOSDEMOS READINGDEMOS BUSINESSDEMOS
Disflamer:
Unless you know who you are I do not intend to offend you; if I am rude or boring, I apologize.
These are not all my opinions, they may be somebody else's opinions, some of them are just visiting.

Technical Expectations   |   Modern Science   |   Can a Machine Teach?   |   Liechtenstein in La Plata
Rude Rules   |   International WYSIWYG   |   Why I Like the Web   |   SoftWars

Helpful Definitions   |   Stupid Fluid Dynamics   |   The Age of the Universe Clock JavaScript

What is The Teahouse of Experience?

"Close the shop of argument and mystery. Open the teahouse of experience."
Hamadani (12c. poet)

When I settled here sixteen years ago, there was an old roadhouse called the Mill Creek Inn up north of town. I remembered it from my earlier travels through this region, it was an isolated old inn at the end of a winter road, up at the Coalbank gate across Highway 550, beside a mountain stream. I had sometimes dreamed of running the place, of meeting, lodging, feeding and refreshing travelers, and of hearing their tales. I had dreamed of learning something about the way information travels, and of operating the highway gate as weather or occupancy dictated.

A year or so after I moved here the old roadhouse was burned down, in a VFD training exercise, to make room for the driveway of a mountain trophy home. I belonged to the local Volunteer Fire Department, the gate on the highway is still there, I don't know the gatekeeper. There used to be a great roadhouse north of Bernalillo, out on the old highway to Santa Fe; visiting blues bands would often play the night away out there, but that's another story.

More to the point, I once proposed that the reason printing was invented in Mainz was that the city lay at the intersection of old trade routes between the four corners of the medieval world, and that the invention of printing coincided with a confluence of knowledge, technology, and information in that ancient town. Further out, to the east, along the Silk Road, caravanserai could be found where other routes combined. In those places refreshments, goods, information, and songs and stories old and new, were traded and, I expect, ideas may have been fertilized. Before written books were invented, information could travel only in someone's head, which tends to make it idiosyncratic. It wasn't until printed books were commonplace that we really began to appreciate one of the fundamental properties of information: you can copy it without diminishing it. The principle of world-wide web technology is that you can make any information, anywhere, available to anybody, anywhere, at any time. Now ideas can grow throughout the world - fertilized by ubiquitous information.

The Teahouse of Experience is a personal, virtual establishment where my ideas, explorations and trade come together. Welcome, please make yourself at home, thank you for visiting.

The Teahouse of Experience Mulla Nasrudin was known to frequent teahouses,
exploring the impossible and asking awkward questions


I have been dialing up computers for more than 30 years, but I am still startled by modem noise - I used to be able to tell how fast the connection was by the squeaking. Come to think of it, I still can…

Some people think that life is like a game show; some that it is like a soap opera, and some that it is like a box of chocolates - a euphemism for 'you never know what you're going to get.' Why is that? I always understood that there's a shape code for chocolates: squares are harder, round is soft, rectangular is crunchy, diamonds are almond paste, and ones with big bumps on top are nuts.

Isn't it strange that in America, the world's most powerful democracy, the public's greatest, individual fear is of public speaking?

I don't get many postcards; those I get are usually pretty cool, I use them as bookmarks. I regard books as companions and teachers, its nice having greetings from my friends in them, too.

Top

Why I Like the Web
I grew up south of London, in Smallfield, Surrey, near Crawley. When they opened the new Gatwick Airport in June, 1958 the airliners (Transair DC3s and BOAC Constellations mostly, with the occasional Comet, I think) began flying low over my house which was perhaps 3 miles from the runway. I remember thinking that anybody with a question that could be answered by someone else could, in principle, fly to wherever that person was and get the answer from them. I had never thought before about the question of answers, but aeroplanes made me think about the reasons for air travel. It never occurred to me that the telephone could be used to contact anybody, I was not allowed to use it; our number was Smallfield 0315. . .

Now the web gets answers for anyone from everybody. One of the things I like is that you can get what appear to be amazingly irrelevant results when you search. For example, I was running an Alta Vista search about web robots, those programs that work the web for you. I searched for bot +"web site" -botanical -botany, and item number 3 of my results was a link to the Bank of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam. I find web search engines quite entertaining, they are descendants of the a href="http://www.dialog.com/about/history/pioneers2.pdf">Lockheed Dialog and SDC Orbit that I wrote an online training system for in the nineteen seventies.

I like how quickly the world-wide web has grown. The web is reaching more people at a much faster rate than radio or television did in their first years. I see that by the end of the year 2001 there were more than 40 million web servers, I estimate that the number of people the web reaches is approaching a billion. I expect tremendous aftereffects soon.

March, 2002: So many more servers are starting to charge their users that some say the number of free services may have already peaked.

2001 March, 2005
Web growth exceeds all expectations and most forecasts.
In 1999 I was using this projection (below) in training pages, the scale on the left goes up to $60 billion

1999
By 2001 I was using this projection (above), same scale, but topped out.

Forrester Research forecasted, in 2003, that "U.S. online retail sales will grow steadily over the next five years, from $95.7 billion in 2003 to $229.9 billion in 2008"quoted at akamai.com.
The Internet Advertising Bureau reports that internet advertising generated $9.6 billion in revenue in 2004 … - reported at www.ebcvg.com.
A Forbes daily survey reports that 26% of all respondents would shop mostly online this year.

I revised my chart again, below, the $cale now useless. 2004


These figures could put the web's growth curves into geometric space, beyond the reach of logarithmic and combinatorial scales.

The world-wide web is growing at a rate that is apparently unlimited in any direction. see Economic Ecology



Rude Rules  :-o
America loses its manners. It is no longer unthinkable that a man who engages in confrontation and insult as a 'manner' of conducting business could succeed to the position of Speaker of the House, as it was just ten years ago. (Radio talk show opinion of Newt Gingrich)

Media influences how people respond to their world, (Dean, Annenberg School, U.Penn.) that is, media affects how people deal with the individual situations/life experiences they encounter, for example: Shocking knowledge about the world/continent/country/region/neighborhood/family/self is more noticeable in the media flood of information - being rude gets you on TV more often and people notice rude more readily.

September, 1998: The Starr Report: instantly infamous. Pornoticians conducting bidness as usual. Congress abuses the internet by publishing that stuff but it sure gets noticed!

Cognitive channel phenomena may be observed as the threshold of rudeness (pornography and violence are decidedly rude) required to get viewers' attention rises: saturation (de-sensitization => threshold increase); and the amount of time required to re-sensitize the media and the viewer: refraction. (see Just Noticeable Information)

In MemoriamFebruary 20, 2005 Hunter S. Thompsom leaves us.

Apparently by his own hand. So long Doctor, we'll miss him. I've seen him a couple of times, I think I met him once, in 1973, at an election party in Aspen, when he ran for Sheriff. He wasn't elected, but  a close associate of his was elected to term as Coroner. I'd heard that nobody died of a drug overdose in Pitkin County for the next four years. I've read lots of his writing, books, articles, I've always admired his writing; capturing the madness and passion of politics, art, and life was his luck. His sense of humor was his salvation, and the reason I loved him. I can't say I liked his love of firearms and violence, but, American to the core, and named well, he hunted successfully. I laughed when I heard the news this morning, he was a unique gentleman to the end.

Technical Expectations

TopWhatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
Seattle, Chief of the Duwamish, Suquamish and allied Indian tribes

I remember helping a fellow at Carnegie Tech in 1969 with something he called liquid crystal. At the time it was quite a novelty. I didn't know about its electroreflective properties then, we were working with heat and pressure.

I was writing time sharing programs by 1972, using dial-up modems, I also ran my own minicomputers. In 1975 and 1976 colloquia I heard people from Bell Labs talking about cellular phone technology and words-as-telephone-numbers. The early drawings of cell site maps showed regular, tiled patterns of seamless telephone service coverage. Real cell sites' antennae coverage is far from regular - the inter-adjustment of multiple sites' antennae is an engineeering art form. I wonder if the switching algorithms are still based upon theoretical coverage, or are they adjustable, too? As for the telephone number words, I envisioned a stranded motorist dialing F-L-A-T-T-I-R-E and getting the closest garage, I assumed that there would be intelligence behind the dictionaries, I didn't expect advertisments disguised as catchy names.
Come to think of it, the web's that way now. . .

I worked on interactive online database search services in the mid seventies and I was doing my own text and word processing by 1981. In 1984 I presented a seminar on the organization of text files comprising a 'state-of-the-art' paper (a PhD program requirement at the SLIS, Pitt.), about Computer-Assisted Instruction.* The files were stored in a unix file system using topical filename symbolic links, so that a hyper statement - using link terms - would generate output consisting of the various source texts linked by the terms. The source text files consisted of full, bibliographic records - including Author, Title, Date, Index Terms, Abstract, etc, retrieved from electronic, bibliographic database searches. Link names were multiply-aliased so that topical terms could be organized in rhetorical, pedagogic, and navigational sequences to produce different arrangements and selections of the source text file contents. The results took some emacs/nroff editing effort, but met the school program requirements and were eventually hard-published.* At the time the virtue of this approach was its quick assembly of up-to-date reports. My research in hyper-systems continues. . . cf  MoreWays.
*This paper was eventually published as an article in volume 3. of the Encyclopedia of Microcomputers (see my Publications).

I have been anticipating the collision of personal computing, telephones, and television since 1981;
here's my current, 10 - to - 15 year personal information technology expectation:
A hand-held/wearable digital device incorporating
  • digital cellular telephone/pager/voice mail/camera**
  • television/world-wide web browser remote control using networkware for data storage and retrieval, spreadsheet, note book, e-mail, news, personal agents and other apps.*
  • transaction authorizer (works independently/out of pocket and with web commerce+)
  • voice recognition memo/calendar/calculator/reminder
  • garage/auto/home/office door opener
  • global positioning system locator/tracer***

     * (Oracle Corp announces data host solution, September '98)
     ** (Japanese announcement of a portable videophone, May, 1999)
     *** (Announcement of mandatory tracking devices in cell phones beginning 2002, March, 2001)

    +I assume that the cost of most tele-transaction/authorizations will be paid directly by the consumer. Current rates run upwards from 25 cents per.

    In fifteen years everybody who uses a computer will be connected to the same system. Not just anybody's system, not any specific system - just the system. In the system everything on every computer in the world will actually be on its way to some other computer.
  • In 1994 I expected that a next-generation networkstation would have a 17" - 21" display, a 56Kbps modem/FDDI card with smart data link control and 2Mb Communications/ISDN buffer. 32Mb RAM, 1G HDD, 8M cache, multiple-parallel bus, a 120 Mhz 32-bit RISC central processor, numeric co-processor, and a video co-processor with 4M cache. In November, 1995 the IBM Ambra featured an MPEG video coprocessor and SUN announced UltraSPARC Port architecture, "performance has now .. reached the low end of massively parallel supercomputers," according to Eric Eldred, "Sun Opens up the Bus Bottleneck." Datamation v.41 n.21 p.85.

    December, 1996
    Intell announces integration of 9,000 microprocessors in Trillion-FLOPS achievement.

    September, 1998
    Street sytems: P-300 cpu with 128Mb RAM and 20Gb HDD, 17" display, 56Kbps modem $1,500

    webTV April, 1999
    I assume that e-commerce is an enabling technology for webTV and that online retail transaction processing will be hooked to every webTV commercial.

    July, 1999
    InternetWeek Newsletter - July 29, 1999:
    "Jupiter Communications predicts (internet) ads will top $400 million by 2002."
    This is spite of a recent television network news report of a study that found internet advertising ineffective - survey said people don't really mind ads on web sites but rarely click 'em. I wonder how much self-interest Jupiter and TV have in their respective reports.

    December 10, 1999
    Sun Gives up on Java
    This week's announcement by Sun Microsystems to the effect that they are no longer pursuing efforts to make Java the pervasive language of distributed computing reflects commercial as well as technical issues (see Economic Ecology.) Networking came from distributed commercial computing -- in the 1970s -- as a way to pre-process main-frame bound applications data. 'Intelligent' terminals paved the way, as it were, for the flood of desktop PC's, and the big www bang was a result of providing network connections to a vast number of relatively powerful computers. Old farts love to marvel at the fact that today's desktop computer is 'more powerful' than early mainframes. I can relate, my first CPU was the old Carnegie Tech CDC 6400: 64Kb RAM running several hundred instructions per second. Within five years it will become possible to transfer applications data to a mainframe, process it, and return output to a client faster than doing it on a standalone desktop machine.

    April 12, 2000
    Online Banking: Is It A Bust?
    Today's InternetWeek Newsletter, April 12, 2000, got me thinking again. Paula Jacobs' assertion that Online Banking "has failed to win the favor of the masses," is a like saying, in 1972, that the ATM had failed to win favor. Online banking through ATM bankbots has won wide acceptance but its taken more than 10 years and it has required the development and interoperation engineering of hundreds of systems and millions of machines. Banks themselves now conduct almost all interbank transactions online. Web Banking has been available to consumers less than 4 years now, barely time enough to identify relevant technical issues, but not enough to draw conclusions about its overall success, except to say that it is inevitable.
    All current personal bookkeeping systems have an online component, it won't be long before banking is included; whether people use it or not depends more upon how secure they feel than how easy it is. Other factors are relevant, too - ubiquitous integration of online shopping, trading, and messaging with credit and transaction processing, for example, but the most important thing, it seems to me, is that today's online banking and personal financial management services all require that you give your data to them. I'd be more likely to use a service based upon my own Quicken software, a service that obtains transaction acknowledgements and bank records online, directs the bank to pay certain items, and posts memo transactions to the bank. Of course, web browser-based solutions (today's online banking services) in fact provide better security and reliable data storage but that's not what motivates people to adopt a new method.

    August 29, 2000
    Intel announces the Pentium IV Gigaherz processor chip.

    July, 2001
    Collision Course! This item from the Fri, 20 Jul 2001 InternetWeek update

    E-Payment De'ja Vu. Two divergent standards are emerging to automate secure payment functions and integrate them into B2B sites. IPlanet, the Sun-Netscape company, next month will release software and specifications that let corporate buyers initiate payment messages directly with sellers and track the flow and execution of payments entirely online. Separately, SWIFT, a bank-owned cooperative that provides messaging services to global financial institutions, in the fall will release E-Payment Plus, an application that will let corporate buyers and sellers initiate payments and devise payment options online.

    Well I'm encouraged, if the B2B payment standards shake out to two it won't be long before there's only one, plus of course, whatever Micro Soft decides to do, and personal mobile banking will be up all over.

    Sunday, March 02, 2014
    Payment by phone coming of age
    Anick Jesdanun, Associated Press as published in the Durango Herald
    Barcelona, Spain – "Many people use their smartphones to watch video, play games and wake them up in the morning. Some even use them to generate digital boarding passes to fly. So why not use phones to buy stuff at retail stores as well? A variety of mobile wallet systems store credit or debit card information on phones in encrypted form, offering more security than standard plastic cards with magnetic stripes. To make a purchase, simply tap the phone on a card reader or wave a bar code over a scanner".

    March, 2002
    Hang up and walk!
    Windows now runs on cell phones, the Stinger platform Samsung SPH-I300 having arrived on the American Market, the integration of garage door openers and TV remotes cannot be far behind.

    March, 2003
    Watch where your going!
    We're now well into the picture phone wave. The advantage, of course, is that if not not sending a picture, you can watch where you're going.

    July, 2003
    Street Systems: 4 G Hz cpu with 256Mb RAM and 160Gb HDD, 17" flat display, 56Kbps modem $500
    Now I'm anticipating ubiquitous, broadband digital radio telephones using VOIP, in addition to a full range of IP services.

    September, 2003
    I see where the bandwidth of the web page is creeping up. For years I've advocated a 100 Kbyte maximum transfer for any one page, but that broadband is making people see the web faster. In spite of the XML efforts of W3C, larger plugins and browser extensions are creeping into web page source.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2003
    meanwhile, back on the frontier,
    Microsoft Places $250K Bounties On Hackers. lets' just hope they don't mistake those open systems and linux types for hackers.

    Monday, January 03, 2005
    AMD unveils a processor designed for portable media players. The Au1200 chip integrates media handling facilities on the silicon to keep power costs to a minimum.


    Another use for your ISP March, 2005
    Backup your important data files to your internet account. If you organize your non-web applications' data files appropriately its a simple matter to ftp them all at once, say, from C:\My Documents to a private directory. I see that the Driveway Service (now iDrive.com) is offering 100Mb of free, online storage.

    Modeling and Measurement
    Network performance measurement is not simple but since I train people to use networks I expect to be able to predict and measure improvements in their performance.
    Data Collection methods require Navigation Click & Keystroke counting for direct user protocols, and server-transaction protocol records for assistance & service subsystems.
    It is possible to model predictions of network traffic, workstation & server performance, and subsystem demand by deriving hyperparameters from system facilities structures. Models express the same measures as those derived empirically. I use a model of regional community sites to evaluate information access for the Southwest Colorado Access Network, see User Access at SCANplex. I use a model to optimize car-pooling connections on the RideShare site, and MoreWays illustrates a simple model of web navigation. I am developing a forecasting method for evaluating the effects of differential feedback in heterogeneous systems.

    TopSoftWars
    Quick History 1998:
    Web browser FORMS began to come into wide use early in 1994 - since then Search Engines have sprouted like fungus. Search Engines may not be the best way of working the web, providing a limited view of what's possible - see, for example, MoreWays and organizing the web. I used to use Pointcast for convenient access to news, weather, finance, and sports but gave it up because it was beastly slow.

    Microsoft came late to the net, after poo-pooing the web in 1994, and playing catch-up ever since. The idea that Microsoft knows where I want to go is the opposite of the internet, building their short-sighted vision into the Windows98 desktop reflects a proprietary attitude toward the web. Of course they're not alone; Proctor & Gamble plan to get together with McDonald's and Coca-Cola this summer to "transform the Web into the space we feel it can be." I am sure that has more to do with advertising than with access to information.

    The anti-trust suits against Microsoft are aimed at the information technology that's driven the bull economy of the '90s - the PC. When Microsoft Windows learned TCP/IP the web expanded, but it is still largely unix that gives all those Windows browsers something to look at. I worry more about the proliferation of NT than IE. Bill Gate's remark about the Windows98 anti-trust suits being "like asking Coca Cola to put 3 cans of Pepsi in every six pack" misses the mark: Microsoft is like a bottle maker which delivers bottles with Coca Cola already in them - if you want anything else you have to empty the bottle and install your own flavor.

    1999: sun.aol.netscape to the rescue!
    The microsoft windows view of computing - the infamous user view? - dominates the political/legal arguments, obscuring the technical fundamentals. Point-and-click is all very well for hands-on application computing, and windows even provides process-to-process communications and file object portability (although less than 50% of windows users avail themselves…) but it is the automatic processes that make things work. You wouldn't want to point-and-click every time your computer assembled and checked a packet of data off the network, you'd leave it up to a process to decide what to do with that data. You're on your own with windows, only if you can see what you want are you in business, a constraint entailed in the assumption that Windows® is the computer. The difficulty microsoft had with DOS/Windows® support for data communications, LANs, file and distributed resource sharing was only overcome by competitive pressure and market advantage. Similarly, the slow grasp microsoft exercised on the internet reflected the rate at which windows programs deal with data provided by non-windows programs.
    On the other hand the unix view has always been to regard every other unix computer as a processing, storage, and forwarding resource, and to assume that many users should be served all at once. In the event that a suitable, local process could not be found to satisfy a given user request then it should be handed over to a computer that does has the requisite resource. Either that or build it on the fly, out of existing parts. The world-wide web is the best current demonstration that the network is the computer, but looking at it through a window limits the view. And, after all, isn't what you want more than just something to click?

    July, 2001: Renegades of Redmond Again
    I'm getting CERT Alerts about holes in NT server software and Windows email every week or so, have been for years. Micro Soft's feverish efforts to wun the web continue to confound development with technical drivel. I know that Open Systems can accomodate the 'make it so any idiot can do it' approach but the idiots want to be in charge.
    Which brings me to DOM2. DOM is the Document Object Model that defines what, among other things, a browser can do with a web page. DOM is defined by the W3C - the world-wide web consortium. Within a year new browsers will implement DOM2 standards for page styles, dynamic HTML and javascript, no current (DOM1) browsers meet the new standards. Minor differences in how early browsers did things were a result of implementation variations as more and more DOM1 standards were met. Internet Explorer introduced proprietary implementations of web browser standards and led the way in 'active add-ins,' not to mention Operating System integration. The resulting confusion drew efforts away from W3C browser standards during the web fever growth years, and gave us 3 major (incompatible) versions of most browsers within the last 4 years. DOM2 should shake out some of the web pages - browser program interoperability issues, and it lets us get on with making the web do some new things, as well as the many (very) old things we've seen it do.
    Got a DOM2 browser? Visit the Teahouse of Experience DOM2 Demo.

    January, 2005: and Again
    Industry wide advice to abandon IE because of its security problems is offered by some pundits, too soon to tell if it will be followed. ATST, Microsoft is sticking with its 'we'll get the bastards' policy. Ironic, isn't it, that if it wasn't for Microsoft and its windows, we wouldn't be having so many security problems. Spam, yes, but not the kind of Wingate break-ins we're getting.
    The IE configuration on campus here has a Microsoft Popup blocker, which pops up to announce its effectiveness.

    March, 2005: about those logins
    I started to notice the proliferation of web site user ID/password logins several years ago. The browser FORMS managers, cookies, and "wallets" that appeared just emphasized the ballooning security risks of authenticating business on the web, the individual inconvenience of having to manage a couple dozen different account logins, not to mention the impossibility of remembering more than 7 of them at once, I expect, will soon lead to login aversion.

    TopInternational WYSIWYG
    I'm not sure where this came from . . . not sure where it leads, not sure if its right.

    Contributions welcome

    North America
    WYSIWYG
    wizziwigg
    What You See Is What You Get
    France
    CQVVECQOV
    sukvekov
    Ce Que Vous Voyez Est Ce Qui Obtenez Vous
    Germany & Lichtenstein
    WSSWSEI
    vssvsee
    Was Sie Sehen Was Sie Erhalten Ist
    Great Britain
    TWYSITWYWR
    twisitwir
    That Which You See Is That Which You Will Receive
    Ancient Rome
    CAI
    kai
    Considerato Asciscerato Ilico
    Sweden
    VDSÄVDF
    vudsävduf
    Vad Du Ser Är Vad Du Får
    Italy
    CCVECCO
    shkveshko
    Che cosa vedete è che cosa ottenete
    Portugal
    OQVVEOQVC
    ocweoqwuc
    O que você vê é o que você começa
    Norway
    HDSEHSDF
    hdsihsdf
    Hva De Ser Er Hva Som De Får
    Spain
    QUVELQUO
    kvelko
    Qué Usted Ve Es Lo Que Usted Obtiene

    Norwegian Translation by Transparent Language


    Paris Match The Lone Eagle incident.
    Several years ago the senior editor at Paris Match was visiting Colorado, and he'd heard about what we were calling lone eagles, people who lived in the mountains and worked online. He got in touch with Jane Zimmermann at DACRA, who called me to see if I'd entertain him. With the inept assistance of Desperate Don Dugas, from Southern California with a capital S, I did. I don't recall the editor's name, something quite French, I'm sure. I was to meet him in town, for drinks & dinner, and I was warming up with a couple of early ones at the Palace, where I ran into Don, a member in good standing of the drinking team there. In my happy fog, I invited Don how he'd like a free dinner, compliments of Paris Match. Then, in the Gonzo spirit, I introduced Don as my attorney when Phillipe, let's call him, arrived. After a dinner featuring one or two bottles from the Palace's fine cellar, we went on to the Sundowner, the cowboy saloon up at the corner of 6th & 2nd. Don got disgracefully drunk, and we took him outside, seeking fresh air. He recovered enough to fall down, scraping his head on the street. Phillipe was delighted. Then an affectionate cowgirl started oohing and aahing over Don's head injury, after we went back inside, and Phillipe was even more delighted when she took an interest in him. What could have turned out to have been a really good story, as far as Phillipe was concerned, was sort of spoiled by Don's insistence that the cowgirl should go home with him, and not Phillipe. A Match photographer came to visit me several weeks later, and took pro photos of my office, but I don't think any article ever appeared.


    1971     CDC 64 BASIC
    FORTRAN

    1972     Assemblers:
     Data Mate
     Singer
    RPG

    1973     FORTRAN II
    DG Nova
      Assembler

    1975     ALGOL W
    JCL
    PL360

    1976     LISP
    IBM SCRIPT
    DYNAMO

    1977     FORTRAN IV
    PDP11 GT40 BASIC

    1979     COBOL
    RPG II

    1982     a little c

    1983     LOGO

    1984     emacs
    nroff

    1988     PASCAL

    1990     SQL

    1994     HTML

    1996     JavaScript

    1997     Perl

    1998    DOM

    1999    DHTML

    2000    CPAN

    2001    DOM2

    2002    ASP

    LANGUAGES I HAVE KNOWN
    Speaking of languages, a friend asked me if I was doing much Java programming, I'm not, really, apart from a couple of plug & play toys.

    I've been at least 3 years behind the programming languages curve for 30 years now, but his question got me thinking about languages I have known.
    But see my Technical Expectations, 1984.

    I know nothing about FORTH or FIFTH, 
    or DOGO, actually. . .  

    LANGUAGES I HAVEN'T KNOWN: THE LESSER-KNOWN PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES

    # 11 -- FIFTH
    FIFTH is a precision mathematical language in which the data types refer to quantities. The data types range from CC, OUNCE, SHOT, and JIGGER to FIFTH (hence the name of the language), LITER, MAGNUM and BLOTTO. Commands refer to ingredients such as CHABLIS, CHARDONNAY, CABERNET, GIN, VERMOUTH, VODKA, SCOTCH, BOURBON, CANADIAN, COORS, BUG, EVERCLEAR and WHATEVERSAROUND.
    The many versions of the FIFTH language reflect the sophistication and financial status of its users. Commands in the ELITE dialect include VSOP, LAFITE and WAITERS_RECOMMENDATION, while commands in the GUTTER dialect include HOOTCH, THUNDERBIRD, HOUSE_RED and RIPPLE. The latter is a favorite of frustrated FORTH programmers who end up using this language
    from unix fortune

    # 13 -- C minus (C-)
    This language was named for the grade received by its creator when he submitted it as a class project in a graduate programming class. C- is best described as a "low-level" programming language. In general, the language requires more C- statements than machine code instructions to execute a given task. In this respect it is very similar to COBOL.
    from unix fortune

    Rolling Rock # 62 -- BREW
    An annex language from Pittsburgh featuring the data types PINT, HALF, STEIN, MUG, BOTTLE, LONGNECK, PONY, STUBBIE, CAN, GLASS, 6PAK, CASE, BARREL, and the operations ORDER, PAY, FILL, EMPTY, CHUG, REFRESH and URP. BREW uses numeric values in the range 0 through 8. Recursion, hand signals and slurred text processing are supported, as are supervised (BARTENDER), non supervised (BYOB) and imaginary (JUST1) modes. Internal stack handling (TAB) may be installed separately and runs only in supervised mode. You must have been born on or before for BREW in most states.

    # 17 -- DOGO
    Developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Obedience Training, DOGO heralds a new era of computer-literate pets. DOGO commands include SIT, STAY, HEEL, and ROLL OVER.
    from unix fortune

    #  42 -- WYNOT
    A response to the Iowa Statewide Programming challenge posed by WATFOR, WYNOT was conceived at the Rapid College of Iowa, (Go! Fighting Corndogs!) Department of Early Childhood Development. WYNOT features OTF logic and BECAUSE syntax, including clauses such as I SAID SO, ITS THERE, I'M SORRY, and I DID'NT KNOW IT WAS LOADED.

    Machines
    I have known
    • CDC 6400
    • Singer 1000
    • Datamate 8K
    • Prodac 8K
    • DG Nova
    • GE 6400
    • IBM 360
    • IBM 370
    • PDP 8
    • Honeywell
    • IBM Sierra
    • DEC 2000
    • NBI
    • PDP 11
    • VAX 1100
    • TRS 80
    • Apple II
    • IBM PC
    Operating Systems
    I have known
    • GECOS
    • GCOS
    • AOS (Data General)
    • OS/360
    • RSTS
    • RSX11M
    • MVS
    • VM/370
    • TOPS 10
    • TOPS 20
    • unix
    • VMS
    • MS DOS
    • Windows
    • linux
    THE USUAL OBJECT OF PROGRAMMING BEING THE FULFILLMENT OF SOME PRACTICAL REQUIREMENT,
    I'VE ALSO COME TO KNOW SEVERAL DIFFERENT DESIGN METHODS, OR 'METHODOLOGIES', AS THEY ARE VULGARLY CALLED.
    Methods I have applied
  • Control/Display
  • IPO
  • Algorithms
  • Ergonomics
  • Pseudo code
  • Modules & OOP
  • Compilers
  • Interpreters
  • Black box
  • Time Sharing
    • Batch Processing
    • Structured Systems
    • Memory addressing
    • Executeable/object form
    • Distributed Processing
    • Network Protocols
    • Parallel Processing
    • Protoyping & RAD
    • Information Architecture
    • Business Process Reengineering

    TopModern Science
    Math, Science and Meta-science: In mundi materia spiritum summum

    Information Science is an interdisciplinary field, an inquiry into newly important phenomena arising from information technology. Information scientists study the physics, physiology, and psychology of human cognition and information-seeking behavior; ergonomic engineering; symbolic, logical, and computational methods; knowledge transfer; library science; systems policy, management, and procedures; data storage and retrieval, telecommunications and networks; all in a context of information and systems theory. In the past twenty years information science has become more technical as its applications have become more significant.

    Cognition: energy information
    Expression: information energy

    On the Other Hand Popular Science Isn't Science
    Science led the way through the 19th and 20th centuries, solving problems, finding truth, scaring the hell out of us and justifying all manner of horrors in the name of progress. Modern science is completely beyond the domain of general knowledge. A well educated person of the late 17th century would have had complete knowledge of the state of the art in most science, engineering and math.
    "In Newton's time it was possible for an educated person to have a grasp of the whole of human knowledge, at least in outline. But since then, the pace of the development of science has made this impossible... Only a few people can keep up with the rapidly advancing frontier of knowledge…
    The rest of the population has had little idea of the advances that are being made..."
    nor much idea about reading, writing & arithmetic for that matter.
    The catch phrase 'do the math' is actually advice to do arithmetic in your head, a daunting prospect for many well educated persons of the 21st century.
    Scientific jargon can lend modern credibility to the most outrageous communications, claims, announcements and opinions, and modern computers can lend spurious accuracy to all manner of data. Which wouldn't be all that bad but lots of people take it entirely too seriously.

    † Steven W Hawking A Brief History of Time. New York; Bantam Books. pp. 167 - 168.

    Stupid Fluid Dynamics
    Recent research reports about traffic congestion in the US reminded me of my participation in unpublished work on Stupid Fluid Dynamics, a quantum engineering discipline founded in Los Angeles, in traffic, in early 1994.

    Principles
    • Commuter traffic patterns may be described, measured, and predicted by Stupid Fluid Dynamics quantum analysis.
    • Stupid Fluid is composed of units consisting of combinations of three elementary particles: vehicles, drivers, and passengers.
    • The dynamic behavior of Stupid Fluid is determined by the internal particle states of every unit and the routes along which they travel.
    • Squeezage expresses the overall inefficiency of traffic routes; zero squeezage is optimal, a squeezage of one indicates a delay of 100% in expected travel time.

    Parameters
    umefirst  Perceived unit urgency index:
    the eigenvalue of a traffic unit's occupants' urgency index matrix.

    uow Wreckage:
    the number of moving units arriving in the same space.

    Identities
    cD = Uh'1...u

    The expected capacity c, in units per hour of all routes to any destination D, is equal to U, the number of units going there multiplied by the time (in hours per unit) left before each is due at their destination. Note the effect of large numbers of late units upon coefficient h: negative capacity; in extreme squeezage U increases without limit, as, for example, in mass evacuations, and the expected capacity of some routes may become undefined.

    vui = (vui+1 + (vu0)1) 1- uow

    The speed v, of any unit, ui is equal to the speed of the slowest unit visible from a height of 1 meter plus the speed of the following unit times looky, eg 1 - wreckage.

    Δvui = (vui - (vun)1 + vui-1) / 90mph

    The acceleration of any unit is equal to the passing speed of the fastest unit visible from a height of 1 meter plus the speed of the preceding unit all over the effective speed limit.

    tug = time() - (tuoo - tuest) / umefirst

    Go to work time for any unit is the time-of-day minus the difference between due time and expected travel time divided by the perceived unit urgency index: umefirst

    LEMMA 1: If and only if h' (time left before unit is due at destination) and go to work time are both greater than zero squeezage approaches zero asymptotically as the perceived unit urgency index approaches zero :

    IFF (h' > 0 AND tug > 0)  ≈   S→ 0 X f(umefirst→ 0

    Other factors affect squeezage, for example:

    • passenger sound pressure level index
    • wheels on ground ratio
    • watch and clock error

    There are also independent variables, for example:

    • John Corcoran's observation that "the last rush hour express bus to your neighborhood leaves five minutes before you get off work."
    • eR the number of emergency vehicles in traffic.

    This just in:
    NEWEd. Sauer's work on Stupid Fluid Theory includes Stupid Fluid graphics illustrating contention, plugs and other relevant phenomena, and an absurd new traffic flow paradigm invoking Chaos and non deterministic behavior.

    All original Stupid Fluid Dynamics fieldwork and theoretical development by myself and Ed. Sauer,
    with important contributions by John Strabala (he drove). Comments welcome.


    Relativity and the time crunch.
    Albert Einstein is popularly supposed to have said that 'the faster you go the slower your clock runs,' giving rise to the improbable conclusion that a person who travels, say, out into space, at an appreciable fraction of the velocity of light, and returns, will find that much more time has passed on the earth than on their journey.

    What Einstein actually said was "the rate of a clock is accordingly slower the greater is the mass of the ponderable matter in its neighborhood." Indeed, spacecraft clocks run slower the farther they are from the earth.

    Which is to say that the amount of time between two beats of a 'standard clock' equals, in beats:

    1 +   Κ    σdVο 
    r
    The rate at which time passes is an integral function of your distance from, and the amount of mass around you. As those change, the rate at which time passes changes: if you are very close to a very large mass, time passes more slowly for you.

    The combination of this finding and the famous observation that e = mc2, and its implication, that as objects go faster they get more massive, leads to the conclusion that there would be a longer amount of "time" between ticks of a clock on an object traveling at an appreciable fraction of the speed of light, by virtue of its proximity to that object's greater mass. This effect is known as time dilation.

    Time dilation is, in theory, only measureable at great velocities, but, just for argument's sake, say that travelling 100 miles every day, at 50 miles an hour, for 10 years, dilates time by 15⁄1000 of a second††. By commuting, you have experienced 15⁄1000 of a second less than those who didn't. You have actually had less time than if you had stayed, relatively speaking in one place, wouldn't you?

    Albert Einstein, The Meaning of Relativity. The Stafford Little Lectures of Princeton University May 1921. Princeton University Press; Princeton, New Jersey. 1955. p.92.

    †† If you travelled that entire 365,000 miles at the speed of light it would take you at least 1.962 seconds. If you could make that journey in our vicinity, the time dilation would be about (0.017 ÷ 25.13) x (186000 ÷ 7500) = .0168 seconds.


    The Age of the Universe Clock:

    The Age of the Universe Clock has 59 digits showing the 13,712,342,003 years since the beginning, the month, day, hour, minute, second, tenth, hundredth, millisecond, microsecond, and so on. The millisecond and the numbers to the right change too fast to show, so you can't see them changing, they're just zeros, but you should see the hundredths, tenths, and seconds change. You might see the minutes change, don't waste your time waiting for the hours and days to change; you'll see the months and years change eventually, most of us have seen the decades change, few have seen the century change. We were the first people in a thousand years to see the millennium number change, somebody may have seen the next 4 numbers to the left change - ten thousand, a hundred thousand, a million, and ten million years ago. Nobody has ever seen the first 3 digits change.
    The very last digit on the right represents the smallest unit of time: the Planck time of 10-44 seconds.

    The Denver International Airport Luggage System Test: 140,000 bags shy.
    Before the airport opened, the authorities announced that the results of their reliability test - losing only 1 bag out of 7,000 - showed that the system was 99% reliable, but running that many pieces of luggage to test the system would require that only 0.0476 bags go astray in order to meet a criterion of 99% reliability (three σ standard deviations). In order to meet a 99% reliability criterion the system should be able to process 147,058 bags before one goes astray.

    The SeaTac Automatic Runway Problem: another exact airport answer.
    "SeaTac is the main Seattle-area airport. Ordinarily aircraft landings are from the north, and this end of the runway is equipped with all the sensing equipment necessary to do ALS (Automatic Landing System) approaches. The early 747 ALS worked beautifully, and the first of these multi-centaton aircraft set down exactly at the spot in the center of the runway that the ALS was heading for. The second 747 set down there. The third 747 landed on this part of the runway... as did all the others. After a while, SeaTac personnel noticed that the concrete at this point at the north end of the ALS runway was breaking up under the repeated impact of 747 landings. So the sofware was modified so that 3 miles out on the approach, a random number generator is consulted to choose a landing spot -- a little long, a little short, a little to the left or a little to the right."
    with thanks to the NEU for the fortune cookie file.

    Pascal had a Point: Variations on a Quote.
    Blaise Pascal (1623–62), French scientist, philosopher, for whom the PASCAL programming language was named, said:
    1. Tout les malheur de hommes vient d'une seule chose;
      qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.
      - which is to say:
      All the misfortunes of men derive from one single thing;
      which is their inability to be at ease in a room [at home]
      The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 3rd. ed., 1980, p. 369.
    2. Man finds nothing so intolerable as to be in a state of complete rest, without passions, without occupation, without diversion, without effort.
      Pensées (1670; no. 622 ed. by Krailsheimer, no. 131 ed. by Brunschvicg). in Microsoft Bookshelf Basics, 1996.
    3. "The trouble with Western Man is that he doesn't know how to be content in an empty room."
      M. Wood, LEGACY. p. 120.
    4. "...never happy in an empty room,"
      LEGACY p. 209.
    5. "... how to sit still in a room,"
      a poster from a textbook publisher.
    6. "... how to be quiet in his room,"
      somebody's e-mail signature.

    Descriptions, Examples and Definitions always help, here's a few:

    1. Administrivia: not directly productive, or overhead, effort expended keeping track of details, now increasingly automated.
    2. CWT (Complete Waste of Time): Client billing record term, not used on invoices, accounts for missed appointments, work on products not sold, and time spent with sales reps.

    3. Debt Dead: a terminal, financial condition caused by accumulation of so much debt that one must make payments for longer than one can reasonably expect to live. (see Credit)

    4. Earth Index: Environmental Economics. That proportion of a working person's time and/or income it would take if we undid all of the environmental damage. In other words, if we started tomorrow to clean up the world and to replace all the polluting, resource-gobbling business, industrial, and military activities with constructive, (green) conservative (conservational?) technology & behavior how much would it take? How long would I have to work to pay my share?

    5. Economic Ecology: The competitive selection of businesses.  cf  Cheng Hsu, Department of Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, points out that "a firm that can discover a better technology for performing an activity than its competitors gains competitive advantage." He also points out that "when information technology changes the basics of competition in an industry, 50% of the companies in that industry disappear within ten years."
      & see Economics and Information

    6. Information Need: the difference between what you know and what you want to know.

    7. Just Noticeable Information: the amount of information it takes to make you think that you know something new. A threshold of perception well below practical levels. Advertising, for example, often exceeds the Just Noticeable Information threshold - so you think you know something new. (see Rude Rules and Can a machine teach?)

    8. Learning Curve: from unix fortune A theory discovered by management consultants in the 1970s, asserting that the more you do something the quicker you can do it.
      & see a digression
    9. Reho: re-engineering to meet users' requirements rather than designer's, as in "we'll reho this system for you so you can use it."

    10. Squirrelage (skwi•rel•lij): the things that technical tyros or digital dilettantes leave behind in their efforts; as in "this web site's no good, there's squirrelage all over it." Multitudes of squirrels have recently appeared in the guise of 'web developers' and self-proclaimed 'web masters' (although it used to mean something technically specific, web master is no longer a useful term.) I expect the number of 'web developers' to double every month for the rest of the year. The commercial derangement of the world-wide web is in large part due to the inefficiency of MS Windows point and click apps, the marginal internet literacy of the ruffian of Redmond, and squirrels' general ignorance of technical principles. Dang those varmits! Squirrels are often infected with web fever which makes them think they're going to become very rich as soon as everyone else visits their web site. cf squirrelcide in The New Hacker's Dictionary.

      Top

    11. Tea: The best quality tea must have creases like the leathern boot of Tartar horsemen, curl like the dewlap of a mighty bullock, unfold like a mist rising out of a ravine, gleam like a lake touched by a zephyr, and be wet and soft like a fine earth newly swept by rain.
      The Teahouse of Experience Lu Yu (d. 804), Chinese sage, hermit.
      Quoted in: Jason Goodwin, The Gunpowder Gardens, Introduction (1990), from the Cha Ching.


      I think these are aspects of the mystic:
      • learning without a teacher (see Can a machine teach?)
      • knowing without learning
      • becoming the imagined (realization)

      <>Master Lieh could ride upon the wind whenever he pleased; he could dispense with walking because he was not in pursuit of blessing, still there was something that he had to rely on - the wind. Suppose there was someone who could ride upon the truth of heaven and earth, who could chariot upon the transformations of the six vital breaths and thereby go wandering in infinity, what would he have to rely on?   anon.

    12. visiot: web site visitor idiot, one who can't follow directions, especially one who double clicks things that should only be clicked once. Usage identical with the older term 'user' among programmers and systems analysts. see reho.
    13. Six out of eightThen there's the business with the sufis, Sherborne, Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, and Bennett.
      I was introduced to the I Ching about 1972, soon after I'd first heard of it, by an imperial Chinese bishop, episcopal style, who had retired to Butler, PA, after being run out of mainland China by the Communists, almost 60 years ago now. He had a 3 storey pagoda in the back garden, built as a tribute by his fellow refugees. In his top floor library was a two volume first edition of Wilhelm's translation of the Book of Changes, which caught my eye. We chatted, in that tiny room, for a few minutes, my looming size perhaps transgressing his personal space, but his Imperial manners gave him patience with me.
      Hypercube The idea that everything-which-changes follows understandable patterns probably arises from a cognitive phenomena involving recognizability and remembering. The I Ching's summation of the patterns of change in 8 x 8 odd/even combinations of 2 simple differences taken 3 at a time is elegantly complete. One of the first insights that Wilhelm explains is that the changes of the Hexagram - the 64 different hexagrams, can be viewed as a cube in 8 dimensions. About the right number to be cognitively related, I'd say.

      The drawing on the right, above, illustrates, in two dimensions, a cube viewed in Ø, 1, 2, and 3 dimensions, acording to the number of sides of it you can see: 0, 1, 2, and 3. Its almost possible to illustrate a cube in viewed in 4 dimensions but the very thought of illustrating a cube viewed in 5, 6, 7 or 8 dimensions is more easily entertained by thinking of the number of faces, out of the 6 possible, you can see at once: the 8 changes in the combinations of the hexagram.

      The Changes

      Which brings me back to Sherborne, a place I'd first seen in a 1973 National Geographic article about Sufis, at the beginning of my interest in human potential and realization.Sherborne In 1980 I visited my grandma at Fairlight before setting off to the west country, to see Sherborne. Grandma had rambled on about Earl Dutton and the shabby way the family had cut her off for marrying my grandfather, a welsh banker, in London. So, I find Sherborne, walk in the back, and say to the first person I see, "Hello, I'm a seeker of the heart." To which he said, "Well, you'd better come in and have a cup of tea." I spent 10 days among those people, technical masters of the fourth way. After a few days of spirited discussion I fasted and weeded the gardens, after which I was invited to an upstairs demo of the circle turning. I had prowled the halls of that old house, and was surprised to find portraits of the Earl of Dutton, Sherborne, and the family, going back hundreds of years. Its taken me 25 years to find that I'd stumbled across the remanants of the School of Continuous Education, the school that Bennett had established, and at which Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and Idries Shah had taught, years ago. I learned too, that Bennett had died, of a surprise heart attack, in the very gardens I'd tended. I see that Sherborne House is now a condominium.


    14. Economics and Information
      I was pleased to see that the 1997 Nobel Prize for Economics went to work on 'asymmetric information.' I have often wondered what difference it would make if consumers were better informed.
      • I was reading an interview with Walter Wriston (Wired, 4.10, 10/96) and it occured to me that most consumers do not, in fact, have enough money to pay the actual cost of living - acol - which is why we have, among other economic phenomena, welfare, credit, insurance, and lotteries. The strange part is that taxes pay for a substantial part of those phenomena. So, if people didn't pay taxes, would they have enough money to pay the acol? I don't think so.
      • Credit: I'll lend you this money if you'll pay me while you use it and then give it back.
        I'll lend you this car [capital good] if you'll pay me while you use it and trade its residual value in on the next one.
        (see Debt Dead)
      • Insurance: Give me money every month, I'll invest it (see Credit) and, if you ever need more than $500 I'll give it to you. I'll even give you $20,000 if you die.

        & see Economic Ecology

      Can a machine teach?

      Gurdjieff used to assert that you can only obtain knowledge from one who knows. Some of his students maintain that he was talking about esoteric knowledge; he may have been, in general I don't buy it, at least, I think we can learn without a teacher. (see aspects of the mystic)

      Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous
      Confucius, The Confucian Analects, bk. 2:15
      thanks to Cass Armstrong, Systems Librarian Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

      Teaching and learning are on opposite sides of the computer coin. Pedagogic teaching's goals are typically published, defined, regulated, even legislated, to the point that specific, measureable outcomes are stipulated for thousands of teaching activities. On the other hand charismatic teaching is characterized by undefined outcomes, informal instruction, and non quantifiable benefits. Why can people learn under a wide variety of teaching approaches? Learning can occur in heterogeneous environments including for example, personal experience ("ow, that stove's hot",) interpersonal relations, active information seeking, primary, secondary, and higher education, formal research, abstract reasoning, and contemplation. Learning is actually motivated as much, if not more than the formal goals of instruction, by learners' own needs, including longer-term, non - task - oriented, situational and socialized needs. Learning predominantly falls short of teaching's goals, by definition, it seems - by normal distribution of outcome measurements.

       . . . a digression into behavioral learning theory. . .
      Learning and thus teaching is most often evaluated by testing. Tests in a typical course of instruction for example, measure a learner's skill level - on a scale from novice to master and are administered twice: once half way through (midtem) and once at the end (final.) People learn at different rates as shown by the "Learning Curve" illustrated in digression figure 1. cf. Learning Curve in Helpful Defintions
      figure 1. The Learning Curve

      Some will learn a new skill pretty quickly - on curve β, some not so fast - on curve α; everybody else will learn at rates between curves α and β. The quick usually have a better chance of learning all the requisite skills before a course ends.

      Notice that administering midterm and final tests at times T1 and T2 respectively, with 'Good' and 'Poor' criteria as shown, can be expected to produce the normally distributed results shown in digression figure 2. the notorious 'bell' curve.


      figure 2. The Bell Curve

      A normal distribution of skill levels will include both satisfactory and failing levels of participant performance at any point in time before Tn - when everyone achives mastery.

      Some courses now administer an 'entry level' test too, at time T0 with the expected results illustrated in digression figure 3. - most people have not mastered the 'exit' skills.


      figure 3. The Entry Level Curve

      Now, suppose you used enough time for those on the lower learning curve α in digression figure 1. to achieve mastery; you would expect the results shown in digression figure 4. - more people mastering the 'exit' skills.

      figure 4. The Exit Level Curve

      Figures 2., 3. and 4. all represent distribution functions on the lines between the curves in figure 1.

      For learning that is largely a matter of instruction and practice you can provide efficient and effective support with computers.


      A teacher can usually state what skills and knowledge a learner should acquire to master a topic, and can describe the measurements by which mastery is demonstrated. There is agreement that self-paced (ie computer-assisted) instruction can be more pleasant than classroom instruction; and there is agreement that self-directed learning (ie in multiple-path knowledge structures) may not ensure that all of the pedagogically required elements are learned without some form of supervision.
      What principles do effective instructional systems use? How do systems ensure that specific, multi-dimensional knowledge and skill outcomes are described, delivered, demonstrated, practiced, and assessed, all at a user-directed pace, while providing opportunities for content re-presentation, alternative formatting, enrichment choices, inquiry, innovation, and progressive attainment of clearly-defined goals throughout?
      Inadequate design is trouble; indeed, textbooks can be so poorly designed that they fail to convey or omit what they test. Textbooks 'should be' comprehensive, include all that is relevant (not just the obvious) and specify what is to be tested. I was reminded of that when I read a description of a public agency's manual for Brand Inspectors - among chapters on brands, regulations, record-keeping, inspection and enforcement procedures and so on, there is a chapter on safe handling of livestock - a Brand Inspector trainee, you can be sure, would learn that one way or the other, so the manual rightly includes it.
      Inadvertent design, too, is a problem. The instructional benefits of repetition, simple structure, and choice are known to include faster mastery and improved retention, a lesson lost on the advertising industry.
      The instructional effects of advertising and entertainment are, if not deliberate, at least fortuitous:
      • Repetition - need I say more?
      • Clear Objective - what you should buy, laugh at, be suprised by, the setup, the message
      • Knowledge maps - explicit, articulated, context - and paths - can be as convoluted as daytime soaps or as trite as the banana skin on the pavement
      Education and entertainment can be subtle but then don't reach so many. Is it better to educate while entertaining? (edutainment) Or vice-versa? (entercation?)

      You have to go with what people are actually doing. After more than 20 years of developments in computer-assisted instruction, most of the now 'highly sophisticated' systems are still trivial or pedagogically flawed. Only the large number of products assures the existence of some better-than-average examples. Prescriptive work is useless, descriptive work at least gets published, motivating what people do makes a difference.

      The world-wide web, hypertext, images, multimedia, etc, - can improve computer-assisted instruction by making knowledge structures explicit in the course of learning and by providing multiple paths through relevant knowledge.

      So, can a machine teach? No, but a machine can certainly help you learn.

      It being the proportion of a happy pen
      not to be invassall'd to one monarchie
      but dwell with all the better world of men(sic)
      whose spirits all are of one communitie
      whom neither oceans, desarts(sic), rocks nor sands
      can keep from th'intertraffique of the mind.

      Samuel Daniel, 1603. Upon publication in England of the Essays of Montaigne.

      TopLiechtenstein in La Plata

      I live in La Plata County, Colorado. Rick Watson, down at San Juan College in Farmington once had an idea he called Island Earth - a scale model of life on earth as if it was an island. (In 1979 NASA published its famous 'This Island Earth' photographs from space. John Brunner's 'Stand on Zanzibar' described the island of Zanzibar as if the entire population of the planet was on it.) I thought I'd compare La Plata County to Liechtenstein. (I will find more data.)

      La Plata county covers 1,700 square miles, has a population of about 35,000, and a per-capita income of $16,257. Population density averages just over 20 people per square mile, the 64 square mile area around Durango might include some 29,000 of the county's residents.

      Liechtenstein has a population of 29,000, its terrain is quite similar to La Plata County's mountainous area around Durango, its size: 62 square miles, a population density of about 468 persons per square mile. Liechtenstein has made itself one of the richest countries in the world. Its $630 million economy works out to almost $22,000 per person per year. Liechtenstein has a thousand-year headstart on La Plata County.

      It costs me $4.50 for a thousand gallons of household water, 50¢/cubic foot to dispose of grubbage.

      La Plata County has its own web site, and you can visit Leichtenstein Online. There are Gemeinde in Liechtenstein and Communities in Southwest Colorado pages.

      E-mail comments to John Griffiths: grifftoe@frontier.net


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