8th October 2008 | Draft
Dynamic Exploration of Value Configurations
Polyhedral animation of conventional value frameworks
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Images of animation to be presented to a Panel on Ethics and Policies for Sustainable Futures on the occasion of the General Assembly of the World Academy of Art and Science (Hyderabad; October 2008) as argued in a background paper for that panel (Topology of Valuing: dynamics of collective engagement with polyhedral value configurations, 2008). Images have also been incorporated into a poster variant In Quest of a Strategic Pattern Language: a new architecture of values [also available in PDF]. Complementary animation accessible from Dynamic Exploration of Value Configurations: interrelating traditional cultural symbols through animation
The above images are derived from various stages in the transformation of the polyhedron to the faces of which were associated the Articles of the three human rights charters. The polyhedron chosen in each case necessarily had the requisite number of faces (of one or more types) to permit such a representation.
In each case the number of the article is used on the face, together with indicative keywords. Some articles are quite complex, possibly with several parts (notably in the case of the Arab Charter). It is assumed that each such article has an implicit "value" associated with it, even if it is expressed as a "right", and even if it is expressed negatively as the freedom from a problem (such as torture) for which a "value" is not immediately obvious as a keyword. For that reason the negative keywords may be used.
The transformations of each polyhedron are possible due to the wide range of possibilities in the Stella Polyhedron Navigator software package. The above images are only a sample of that range. An explanation of those features currently available is given in the associated manual. An earlier overview with informative examples was produced by the developer Robert Webb (Stella: Polyhedron Navigator, Symmetry: Culture and Science, Vol. 11, Nos. 1-4, pp 231-268, 2003 [erroneously indicated as 2003]). Although this is a very helpful introduction to Stella's capabilities, it was written in relation to Great Stella 2.0 in 2003. Many new features have since been added to subsequent upgrades (to Stella4D), notably that offering possibilities in 4D.
The primary purpose of the above screen shots is to suggest different wasy of thinking about the configuration of values. Of special interest in manipulating the configurations in Stella is the recognition that no one representation may be definitively appropriate and that it is the understanding that emerges from the transformations that is of special significance.
Clearly the screen shots raise more questions than answers. The original forms, onto which the articles are visibly mapped, are indeed a useful way of holding the totality of the set of articles. But even in these cases, a major issue is why a particular value should be associated with neighbouring faces with other unrelated values. At this stage, no effort has been made to distribute the values such as to reflect relevant systemic relationships between them. Indeed the conventional checklist indication of values (as in the respective charters) never implies any systemic relationships between values -- reflective of the system of checks and balances ensuring the cohertence and integrity of the set. However the polyhedra offer a number of ways of reflecting such relationships.
More intiguing are the possibilities and significance of the forms resulting from more complex transformations -- even possibly those based on 4 dimensions.
A complementary exploration has been made of polyhedral forms as a means of representing configurations of strategies which are in principle grounded on or inspired by values. Values are typically held to be implicit in stratgegies. This exploration follows from an earlier study of the stratregic dilemmas associated with the preoccupations of the Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), as described in:
This exploration includes a further study of polyhedral institutional configurations. This follows from earlier governance-focused papers:
this work is licenced under a creative commons licence.