-- / --
Strategic design preferences for simplistic geometry: 2D presentations rather than 3D
Traditional constellations versus Pattern language: towards a mind map
Use of virtual reality for 3-dimensional articulation of connectivity
Embodying a navigable cognitive vehicle
Organizing, starting and driving a cognitive vehicle
Engaging with cognitive feedback loops otherwise
Emergence of a higher order pattern language through constellations of entangled metaphors?
Method of image development as a learning process
There is no lack of theories, explanations and strategic plans claiming relevance to global crisis. Many are formulated and disseminated in copyrighted documents. These are relatively inaccessible to most in terms of cost and/or comprehensibility. Through appeals, people worldwide may be called upon both to believe in the truth they claim to represent and to supply resources to enable their application. The proponents tend to disparage each others frameworks. When taking the form of commercialised products, each may be asserted to be of uniquely superior value.
These modern formulations by academia and the policy community stand in curious contrast to other more traditional frameworks held to be more comprehensible, to which many attach more credence, and with which many identify more willingly -- or find themselves better reflected in the mirror they may offer. Again, enthusiasts for particular traditions tend to disparage alternative frameworks of this kind. For convenience, the two clusters are distinguishes here as a language of patterns and as constellations of significance.
The question addressed here is how some form of cognitive bridge might be constructed between these two modalities. Is there the possibility of imagining a cognitive device of some kind which could serve as such a bridge, as previously discussed (In Quest of Mnemonic Catalysts -- for comprehension of complex psychosocial dynamics, 2007; Imagining the Real Challenge and Realizing the Imaginal Pathway of Sustainable Transformation, 2007). Metaphorically might this be some unforeseen paradoxical combination of the Rosetta Stone and the Philosopher's Stone?
Given the quarrelsome relationship between proponents of alternative modalities and belief systems, it would seem that what is called for is not a new articulation. Rather the need is for a special kind of "surface" with which significance could be variously associated -- interactively and in a learning mode. The surface needs to be both sufficiently complex to hold variety and sufficiently simple to be comprehensible.
The surface also needs to have integrative characteristics such as to attract attention and be worthy of it. The iconic image of the Earth from space is promoted as being appropriately symbolic of the integrity of a global civilization.
The question is how the imagined surface can enable the arrangement of highly disparate meanings -- implying connectivity vital to global governance (Imagining Attractive Global Governance, 2013). Expressed otherwise, the challenge is one of reconciling the requisite variety articulated by cybernetics with the requisite simplicity vital to the comprehension, upheld as a democratic right (Ungovernability of Sustainable Global Democracy? 2011). Or, in other terms, is what can be comprehended of sufficient complexity -- and is what can be adequately explained sufficiently comprehensible?
Stated most succinctly and provocatively, it is assumed here that people in general derive more personal meaning and sense of identity from reference to their astrological sign -- or some equally memorable symbol -- than from any complex pattern of explanation formulated by qualified authority. The appeal of such symbols might be due to the perception that they have "more soul" -- irrespective of the degree to which some may be deprecated. The question is how this situation could be reframed with respect to a global civilization in crisis.
Static 2-dimensional frameworks: It is curious to note the degree to which the patterns detected and promoted in academic and strategic discourse primarily take the 2-dimensional form required for document reproduction and other presentations. Representation in 3-dimensional form is an embarrassment, given the technical requirements and associated costs -- and despite the greater degree to which it may match the reality described. This is especially the case when a dynamic is required to convey meaning (Dynamic Transformation of Static Reporting of Global Processes, 2013). It is understandable that 2-dimensionality constrains what can be articulated and how it is comprehended, but especially how it is related to the crises of global society.
The future may see as extraordinary the extent to which strategic principles are articulated in terms of "pillars" (or platform "planks"), in support of "plans", when a geometry of more dimensions may be vital to strategic coherence, as separately argued (Coherent Value Frameworks: Pillar-ization, Polarization and Polyhedral frames of reference, 2008).
A similar argument can be made with respect to the traditional constellations of insights with which many engage so readily. In this respect, the approach here follows from an earlier argument regarding the need to shift from conventional 2-dimensional representation to some 3-dimensional form (Representation of Creative Processes through Dynamics in Three Dimensions: global insight from spherical reframing of mandalas, the zodiac and the enneagram, 2014).
Connectivity: The argument here derives in part from the form of bridge already implied by the role of the "round table" -- whether in strategic articulations or as an inspiring integrative archetype (Checklist of 12-fold Principles, Plans, Symbols and Concepts: web resources, 2011). Characteristically missing, however, is the significance of the connectivity amongst the twelve, whether in the strategic or the archetypal case (Implication of the 12 Knights in any Strategic Round Table, 2014). The lack is evident to a lesser degree in circlets of ritual beads (Designing Cultural Rosaries and Meaning Malas to Sustain Associations within the Pattern that Connects, 2000).
As might be argued from a cybernetic perspective, does this connectivity effectively take the form of metabolic pathways -- understood in cognitive terms as the movement and transformation of particular forms of complementary understanding?
Argued otherwise, what do people derive from engaging so extensively in puzzle-solving processes (sudoku, crossword, scrabble, Rubik's cube, etc) -- or the ritual collective construction of a mandala? Are these to be usefully understood as metaphors for eliciting meaning through ensuring patterns of connectivity?
Moving vehicles rather than static containers: Framed in this way, is the quest more for a cognitive "vehicle" rather than a "container" -- even one of higher dimensionality, as implied by the Rosetta Stone or the Philosopher's Stone? Understood as a container, there is clearly a need to hold more than 12 elements, given the complexity of social processes. The point is clarified by the size of sets considered appropriate to any integrative formulation (Patterns of N-foldness: comparison of integrated multi-set concept schemes as forms of presentation, 1980). A bead circlet carrying significance may be composed of 108 beads.
Understood as a vehicle, it is becoming evident that humanity needs to be able to travel in three dimensions (if not four) rather than two -- if only in the physical sense implied by orbiting spacecraft, drones, and currently imagined designs of a flying automobile. Is a vehicle metaphor to be imagined as a future substitute for the agricultural metaphor of browsing the web?
Although any association with the Rosetta Stone may seem far-fetched, it is appropriate to note the 1.4 billion Euro Rosetta programme of the European Space Agency. This has reached its culmination as this is written. ESA explains use of the name as follows:
Why is the mission called Rosetta? The stone revolutionised our understanding of the past. By comparing the three carved inscriptions on the stone (written in two forms of Egyptian and Greek), historians were able to decipher the mysterious hieroglyphics the written language of ancient Egypt. As a result of this breakthrough, scholars were able to piece together the history of a lost culture.
Why Rosetta? Just as the Rosetta Stone provided the key to an ancient civilisation, so ESA's Rosetta spacecraft will unlock the mysteries of the oldest building blocks of our Solar System -- the comets... Rosetta will allow scientists to look back 4600 million years to an epoch when no planets existed and only a vast swarm of asteroids and comets surrounded the Sun.
Are there three fundamental "languages" -- variously incomprehensible -- of a global civilization in crisis? Do these merit equivalent consideration? How might allocation of resources to their relationship and reconciliation be justified in comparison with that for the ESA programme -- with its highly questionable relevance to human survival at this time?
If the Rosetta Stone metaphor is to be employed by such a well-endowed programme, how might it be adapted to systemic crises, as can be variously explored (Systemic Crises as Keys to Systemic Remedies: a metaphorical Rosetta Stone for future strategy? 2008; Potential Psychosocial Significance of Monstrous Moonshine: an exceptional form of symmetry as a Rosetta stone for cognitive frameworks, 2007; Geometry of Meaning: an alchemical Rosetta Stone? 2013; In Quest of a Dynamic Pattern of Transformations: sensing the strange attractor of an emerging Rosetta Stone, 2012)?
Cognitive embodiment: As a cognitive vehicle, however, to what extent does an appropriate configuration of concepts need to be embodied in order for it to be driven and navigated? The case for cognitive embodiment has been made in recent decades (George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy In The Flesh: the Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought, 1999; Francisco Varela, et al, The Embodied Mind: cognitive science and human experience, 1991).
It is in this sense that Arthur M. Young's insights into the generalization of helicopter design is suggestive (Engendering a Psychopter through Biomimicry and Technomimicry: insights from the process of helicopter development, 2011). With respect to the problematic polarization of global society, the argument can be applied to the insights of Nikola Tesla (Reimagining Tesla's Creativity through Technomimicry: psychosocial empowerment by imagining charged conditions otherwise, 2014).
Information overload and cognitive limitations: A further constraint is evident in the challenge of excessive explanation in a period of information overload (Eliciting a 12-fold Pattern of Generic Operational Insights: recognition of memory constraints on collective strategic comprehension, 2011). Fundamental significance is however associated with some of the more extraordinary recent discoveries of symmetry group theory -- most notably the Monster Group -- potentially greater than that to be derived from the ESA Rosetta programme. What does this imply for the necessary comprehension of such significance (Dynamics of Symmetry Group Theorizing: comprehension of psycho-social implication, 2008)?
Aside from the complexity of hundreds of "dimensions", arguments regarding more than three have been made by various authors (Ronald Atkin, Multidimensional Man: can man live in 3-dimensional space? 1981; Jurgen Ziewe, Multidimensional Man, 2008; Antonio de Nicolas, Meditations through the Rg Veda: Four-Dimensional Man, 1978; Laurence Scott, The Four-Dimensional Human: ways of being in the digital age, 2015). These may include the paradoxes of reconciling subjectivity and objectivity (¡¿ Defining the objective ∞ Refining the subjective ?!: Explaining reality ∞ Embodying realization, 2011; Conditions of Objective, Subjective and Embodied Cognition: mnemonic systems for memetic coding of complexity, 2007).
In the case of de Nicolas. the four dimensions are associated with languages as intentionality-structures (following Husserl): The internationality-structure of a particular language then determines, or prefigures, the kind of answer it will receive. In Habits of Mind (1989), he has applied these insights to the educational challenge of training inner mental skills, instead of transferring accumulations of facts, data and information. The languages distinguished are:
Such concerns may well be related to controversial questions regarding the extension beyond first and second order cybernetics to third and fourth orders, as discussed by Maurice Yolles (Organisations as Complex Systems: an introduction to knowledge cybernetics, 2006). These considerations are relatively modest compared with the 10-dimensionality of the M-theory unifying all consistent versions of string theory, purportedly descriptive of fundamental reality -- however that is to be understood (Global Brane Comprehension Enabling a Higher Dimensional Big Tent? Strategic implication in encompassing nothing and coming to naught, 2011).
Virtual reality: Hence the focus here on use of virtual reality image/animation techniques, to which the attention of many is already attracted through new media and their special effects (Investing Attention Essential to Viable Growth, 2014). The human cognitive constraint is however especially relevant to the much-touted viability of democratic oversight regarding application of problematic technologies (surveillance, genetically modified organisms, etc) -- where "oversight" may also signify a form of omission, neglect or inadequacy.
Can a cognitive vehicle be designed within a virtual reality context such as to enable embodiment by those who need to navigate through knowledge space within one -- especially when the knowledge space includes experiential "dimensions"?
Given the high order of scientific and political commitment to a "Rosetta" programme requiring the highest skills in navigation of physical space, how might this be reframed as a metaphor with regard to navigation of cognitive space of relevance to strategic dilemmas? Given the relevance currently claimed for such exploration of the solar system, most notably in the quest for the origin of life, what analogous claims might be made for exploration of knowledge space -- of the noosphere?
How might so doing curtail potential criticism of the Rosetta programme as being a vast exercise in scientific indulgence in cognitive escapism? Is this indicative of a fundamental incapacity to focus on more urgent issues relating to the future survival of humanity, as separately discussed (Challenges More Difficult for Science than Going to Mars, 2014)? The imaginative appeal of Rosetta is difficult to distinguish from that of the recent movie Interstellar (2014) on which George Monbiot comments:
Just as it is easier to pray for life after death than it is to confront oppression, this fantasy permits us to escape the complexities of life of Earth for a starlit wonderland beyond politics. In Interstellar, as in many other versions of the story, space is heaven, overseen by a benign Technology, peopled by delivering angels with oxygen tanks. Space colonisation is an extreme version of a common belief: that it is easier to adapt to our problems than to solve them. (Interstellar: magnificent film, insane fantasy, The Guardian, 12 November 2014).
With respect to discovery of extraterrestrial life, in the light of past challenges of humanity in distinguishing between human and "subhuman", it is possible that the future will envisage life otherwise and far more inclusively (Sensing Epiterrestrial Intelligence (SETI): embedding of "extraterrestrials" in episystemic dynamics? 2013; Transcending an Asystemic View of Life, 2014; Encountering Otherness as a Waveform -- in the light of a wave theory of being, 2013).
With respect to interplanetary travel, of greater relevance to the following argument is whether the sophistication of that expertise can be adapted to a psychosocial transformation of any envisaged Interplanetary Transport Network (ITN), as separately discussed (Orbiting Round Nothingness across Communication Space: possibility of an "Inter-other Transition Network", 2012).
The challenge addressed here might best be framed in more systemic terms by use of some form of mind map. The following table anticipates development of a more comprehensive map endowed with a higher order of connectivity amongst its elements. In the current form it does however provide a framework for the images and comments which immediately follow it.
As provided, the table is naturally (and deliberately) provocative to those favouring any particular framework (or cluster of frameworks) whilst deprecating others as fundamentally misleading (or worse). This polarization, and antipathy to otherness, could be considered fundamental to the emergence of more integrative forms of coherence capable of handling such dynamics.
Expressed otherwise, how is what is "designed out" of any cognitive framework to be fruitfully handled, as separately discussed (Reintegration of a Remaindered World: cognitive recycling of objects of systemic neglect, 2011; Knowledge Processes Neglected by Science: Insights from the crisis of science and belief, 2012). One process, as yet poorly understood, might be termed the "guru syndrome", whether with respect to academic gurus or those of various traditions (Epistemological Challenge of Cognitive Body Odour: exploring the underside of dialogue, 2006).
|Towards a mind map relating traditional constellations to pattern languages|
|Traditional attributions of meaning
(identification with energy,
variously experienced dynamically)
|Integral dynamics of global order
in cognitive space
|Patterns of order
|"Meanings"||"Constellations"||Icosahedron and Icosidodecahedron
(animations generated by Stella Polyhedron Navigator)
|Christopher Alexander||pattern language
nature of order
|"energies?"||Enneagram||Stafford Beer||discourse structure ,
|"energies?"||Hygeia||R. Buckminster Fuller||synergetics, tensegrity
geometry of thinking
|change||I Ching / Ba Gua
||Keith Critchlow||geometry of order
|"energies?"||Wu Xing||Edward de Bono||information
|"energies?"||Kabbalah||Steven M. Rosen||topology,
|Merkabah||Nikola Tesla||rotating charged
|Maurice Yolles||orders of cybernetics
|Arthur M. Young||vehicle navigation,
geometry of meaning
|Integrative exercises||Integration in practice||Integrative exercises|
|Dynamic Exploration of Value Configurations: interrelating traditional cultural symbols through animation, (2008).||Strategic architecture
Practitioners / aerobatics ***
Cognitive health (making connections)
|Tuning a Periodic Table of Religions, Epistemologies and Spirituality including the sciences and other belief systems (2007)|
Curiously, both with respect to traditional constellations and more modern understanding pattern languages, those with relevant expertise argue that "years of study" and experience are required to master the associated insights and to interpret and apply them appropriately. Both tend to be presented in contexts in which the degree of comprehension is questionable, irrespective of the degree of expertise with which they are claimed to have been presented. Those claiming incomprehension, or who are framed as "ignorant", are then simply called upon to believe unquestioningly -- and enjoined to "get with the programme".
An ironic contrast lies in the explosion in the relevance of the simplicity of Twitter and Facebook, and the strategic significance now attributed to their role. This arguably far exceeds that assumed to be associated with conventional political discourse and substantive academic studies -- no matter how authoritative. More widely evident is the manner in which people readily describe themselves most succinctly (and typically with a smile) through reference to their zodiacal sign. The suggestion made is that this offers insights into their particular idiosyncracies, beyond those offered by conventional typologies, categories and pattern languages.
As noted above, is what can be comprehended (as may however be over-optimistically claimed) of sufficient complexity -- and is what can be explained sufficiently comprehensible (however over-optimistically claimed)? Ironically this might be compared to an early caricature of criteria for a mini-skirt: long enough to cover the subject but short enough to be interesting.
In future an Uncertainty Principle may emerge, generalized to include the social science insights and other modes of knowing (Garrison Sposito Does a generalized Heisenberg principle operate in the social sciences? Inquiry, 1969). There is already a sense in which:
It is in recognition of this possibility that the emphasis here is on simplexity, as an early formalization of simplicity (Miguel Pina e Cunha and Arménio Rego, Complexity -- Simplicity -- Simplexity, 2008; Jeffrey Kluger, Simplexity: the simple rules of a complex world, 2007). Complexity is of course a focus by science on complex systems, most notably through the discipline of cybernetics (with its Law of Requisite Variety). Of particular concern to the development of global civilization is the developing understanding of complex adaptive systems.
The interest in "simplexity" is as yet far less well developed, although it could be assumed that it is through such insights that policy makers and the voting public could get a more adequate "handle" on the strategic issues of a global civilization currently subject to a crisis of crises Relevant literature is partially summarized by Mark Pharoah (Looking to systems theory for a reductive explanation of phenomenal experience and evolutionary foundations for higher order thought, Phronesis, 2008). Corresponding to any Law of Requisite Complexity, would then be some form of Law of Requisite Simplexity. In the form of a Law of Requisite Simplicity, this seems to have been first proposed by Jeffrey Pfeffer (Four Laws of Organizational Research, 1981). The widespread enthusiasm for the framework offered by the zodiac merits consideration in this light -- given the relatively incomprehensible complexity of explanation with which science is now widely associated.
Examples emphasizing complexity over simplexity (right hand columns of the table): Most of these rely primarily on different forms of mathematics as the most disciplined focus on relationships of every kind.
The geometry of order, thinking and meaning, as variously explored:
Insights from a cybernetic perspective:
Examples emphasizing simplexity over complexity (left hand columns of the table): As provocatively suggested in the introduction, it is questionable whether the pattern languages articulated by qualified authorities have an appeal in any way equivalent to that of symbols associated with "constellations" of insights and symbols as variously understood:
There is an interesting challenge in the exploration through animation of the correspondences amongst the set of such disparate symbol sets as a product of human thought (Dynamic Exploration of Value Configurations: interrelating traditional cultural symbols through animation, 2008).
Mnemonic bridging surface (central images in the table): The focus here on the icosahedron derives from a variety of sources:
It has been argued that icosahedral symmetry is the highest and most aesthetically pleasing in Nature -- partially explained by its embodying three golden rectangles. Curiously the large majority of viruses display full icosahedral symmetry -- somewhat ironic in that, as a metaphor, they feature prominently in communication aspirations with respect to the attractions of "going viral" and viral marketing.
As an earlier bridging exercise, the absence of adequate depictions of the enneagram within the icosahedron stimulated the exploration of possibilities of doing so using virtual reality software. That exploration was extended to include the zodiac, as a representation of constellations perceived as configured around the Earth -- together with the arguments made for its global psychosocial implications, as separately described (Representation of Creative Processes through Dynamics in Three Dimensions: global insight from spherical reframing of mandalas, the zodiac and the enneagram, 2014). As shown there, the geometry of the icosahedron is especially appropriate to the traditional clustering of the constellations in the latter case
Strategic applications and cognitive implications (lower portions of table): The shift to a 3D representational context has numerous strategic implications. These are most evident in the shift from strategic dependence on the language of "pillars", "plans", "planks" and "platforms" -- possibly developed from lists of agenda "points". The widespread emphasis placed on "plan" -- especially any "global plan" -- is extremely dubious, as illustrated by the recognized degrees of distortion introduced by planar projections of the globe. This reinforces any "flat Earth" perspective, as challenged separately (Irresponsible Dependence on a Flat Earth Mentality -- in response to global governance challenges, 2008).
The simplest linear geometry features prominently in understandings of links, bonds, networks, and connectivity -- extended more questionably into missiles (arrows, rockets) and the competitive construction of skyscrapers. The latter can be readily associated with compensation for some collective analogue to erectile dysfunction.
It is extraordinary to note the extent of dependence on such elementary geometry -- and the avoidance of more complex forms more consistent with a "global" perspective (Experience of Cognitive Implication in Fundamental Geometry: unexamined metaphoric framing of strategic discourse, 2012; Metaphorical Geometry in Quest of Globality, 2009; Engaging with Globality: through cognitive lines, circlets, crowns or holes, 2009).
As one of the simplest approximations to a sphere, the icosahedron helps to clarify this argument -- especially given the strategic enthusiasm for 12-foldness noted above (Checklist of 12-fold Principles, Plans, Symbols and Concepts: web resources, 2011). This suggests the provocative question as to the number of distinctive memorable patterns into which the human cognitive capacity is able to "connect the dots" meaningfully. The question is especially relevant when the connections are understood dynamically as transformative flows -- rather than statically. The question is discussed separately (Comprehension of Numbers Challenging Global Civilization, 2014). The argument has been further developed separarately, with many illustrations (Topological Clues to a Memorable 12-fold Systemic Pattern, 2011).
Mnemonic potential of polyhedra: The issue of cognitive capacity can be provocatively framed through consideration of how the following might be comprehended and remembered, and by whom:
For mnemonic purposes:
The triangulation basic to the configuration and coherence of such structures was a particular focus of Buckminster Fuller (1976), as discussed separately (Triangulation of Incommensurable Concepts for Global Configuration, 2011). The latter noted the mnemonic and systemic roles recognized in cognitive terms by Paris Arnopoulos (Sociophysics: cosmos and chaos in nature and culture, 2005) and by Jon Jenkins and Maureen Jenkins (The Social Process Triangles, 2001). Buckminster Fuller's proposal for a Dymaxion Map projection is relevant as a means of minimizing distortion.
Potential health implications? Of potentially great relevance is the sense in which integrative configurations are intimately related to a sense of health understood in dynamic terms (Wholth as Sustaining Dynamic of Health and Wealth: cognitive dynamics sustaining the meta-pattern that connects, 2013).
Christopher Alexander emphasizes recognition of a "central quality without a name" within well-designed environments (The Timeless Way of Building, 1979). This could be extended to cognitive environments and to health, as it might be most generally understood. For him, a building or a town will only be alive to the extent that it is governed by the timeless way. He summarizes this as being a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in a man, a town, a building, or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named.
In more recent work he has focused on its geometric implications (Harmony-Seeking Computations: a science of non-classical dynamics based on the progressive evolution of the larger whole, International Journal for Unconventional Computing (IJUC), 2009). He emphasizes the importance geometric adaptation in order to enable comprehension of a higher order, as discussed separately (Harmony-Comprehension and Wholeness-Engendering: eliciting psychosocial transformational principles from design, 2010).
Alexander's concern with a set of 15 transformations might be fruitfully related to a new understanding of health in relation to the environment (In Quest of a Dynamic Pattern of Transformations: sensing the strange attractor of an emerging Rosetta Stone, 2012; Cognitive Implications of Lifestyle Diseases of Rich and Poor: transforming personal entanglement with the natural environment, 2010).
**** bi, Szilassi
Virtual reality possibilities: Virtual reality software became more readily available in the 1990s, enabling structures to be viewed over the web with standard browsers enhanced by readily available plugins. This resulted in various experiments by the author, as reported in:
Virtual reality exercise towards reconciling traditional constellations with pattern languages: The following image explores use of upgraded virtual reality software -- freely accessible. Details of the method used are indicated in a subsequent section with the objective of encouraging further experimentation by others, possibly by modification of the file through which this image is presented (notably with any simple text editor). A central sphere is included (and could be removed). Viewpoint features in virtual reality viewers readily enable clicking to views associated with any coloured vertex (default being that with a conventional enneagram view).
|Screen shot depiction of an enneagram embedded within an icosahedron framework (with circles)
(virtual reality access: either based on legacy WRL standard by clicking on image, after installing any browser plugin, such as Cortona3D; or as new X3D standard, by accessing X3D image URL from within freely downloadable H3DViewer)
|Screen shot depictions of the enneagram embedded within an icosahedron (without circles)
(virtual reality image file for manipulation in 3D, potentially using available browser plugins;
otherwise access image URL from within freely downloadable H3DViewer) New version in preparation
|As above (with icosahedron)||With icosahedron (rotated 90 degrees)|
|Screen shot depictions of the embedded enneagram (without icosahedron or circles)
(virtual reality image file for manipulation in 3D, potentially using available browser plugins;
otherwise access image URL from within freely downloadable H3DViewer)
|View of enneagram alone (as above)||View of enneagram alone (as above)|
Beyond description: The dysfunctionality of current dependence on "think tanks" for strategic insight can be conveniently caricatured in the light of the classic outburst of Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets (1997): I am drowning here, and you're describing the water. As "water-describing arenas". the inhabitants could perhaps be compared with hydrodynamicists describing the eddies, the waves and the tides, consistent with the tank metaphor by which their operations are framed ("Tank-thoughts" from "Think-tanks": metaphors constraining development of global governance, 2003).
The strategic challenge can be explored through the recognition of the confusion and uncertainty of the times, and the inadequacy of conventional frameworks (Charles Handy, The Age of Unreason: new thinking for a new world, 1989; The Empty Raincoat: making sense of the future, 1995). Aside from the collective challenge, this is evident for many individually, as separately discussed (Living with Incomprehension and Uncertainty: re-cognizing the varieties of non-comprehension and misunderstanding, 2012; Living as an Imaginal Bridge between Worlds: global implications of "betwixt and between" and liminality, 2011).
With respect to the cognitive implications, for which the above image may be of some relevance, recognition of the dynamics of the cognitive geometry are implied by personal experience of a world described as turned topsy-turvy, upside-down, or inside-out. The upside-down condition has been usefully recognized and variously addressed (Thomas Homer-Dixon, The Upside of Down: catastrophe, creativity, and the renewal of civilization, 2006; Isabelle Robinet, The World Upside Down: Essays on Taoist Internal Alchemy, 2011). Some implication of the inside-out condition have been separately discussed (World Introversion through Paracycling: global potential for living sustainably "outside-inside", 2013). Such considerations contrast with assumptions that "global" organization can be achieved through simple consensus on a strategic "plan" (The Consensus Delusion: mysterious attractor undermining global civilization as currently imagined, 2011).
The case for some kind of shift "beyond description" can be made from various perspectives and experiential disciplines:
Embodiment of feedback loops: With respect to the effective control of any vehicle, what are the instinctive understandings that can be usefully cultivated? The case could be usefully made from the arguments of those advising on "advanced driving skills" in the case of an automobile, or the manner in which expert pilots (as required in aerobatics or "dogfighting") recognize the distinctive capacities on which they are dependent. The term frequently used in reference to this is "feel".
The key question is the nature of the cognitive engagement with feedback loops as exemplified by the classic expression "flying by the seat of the pants" -- a requirement in skilled control of a helicopter and other craft. The understanding is also evident in the recognition of necessary expertise and experience -- much valued in certain contexts as being beyond conventional knowledge and its communication.
With respect to aerobatics, the point is reinforced by the extent to which this is specifically recognized as involving movement in loops -- in looping and in "looping the loop". A valuable summary of aerobatic manoeuvers is provided by Wikipedia. This distinguishes and illustrates: a Chandelle, a Cuban Eight, an Immelmann, Up lines, Snap and Flick rolls, and Loops. As noted there, five basic manoeuvers are distinguished and combined -- lines (both horizontal and vertical), loops, rolls, spins, and hammerheads.
Movements, that are to various degrees equivalent, are evident in acrobatics, diving, some board sports, dance, and martial arts. With respect to the latter, given the fivefold symmetry of the icosahedron, of particular interest is the classic strategic text on swordsmanship named The Book of Five Rings. What is the nature of the experience of the integrative cognitive sense in that dynamic context, and how is it acquired?
Transdisciplinary vehicles: Of relevance to this argument is how such insights translate into the strategic initiatives required for traversing the domains and "terrain" of knowledge space -- namely as "all-terrain cognitive vehicles".
This can be explored through metaphor, as argued separately (Metaphors as Transdisciplinary Vehicles of the Future, 1991; Navigating Alternative Conceptual Realities: clues to the dynamics of enacting new paradigms through movement, 2002).
One example is offered by the set of aerobatic manoeuvers distinguished above. In a world characterized by "spin", there is a strong case for exploring a comparison with the so-called "manoeuvers" in dialogue, discourse and negotiation. Would such comparison offer insight into the experience of familiar movements within cognitive space -- especially by the more skilled? Would it offer insight into patterns of argument -- especially given enthusiasm for "formation flying", as conventionally used to celebrate a particular understanding of national unity? This raises the question as to whether more complex patterns would reinforce recognition of more appropriate forms of order. The complex formations of bird flocking, and the swarming of other species, offer a contrast partially recognized in terms of swarm intelligence.
Given a degree of common vocabulary, are there insights to be gained from the process of "stalling" in discourse and negotiation -- or "rolling over"? What indeed of the widespread recognition of "spin"? The feasibility and relevance is all the greater given use of "political dogfight" -- where this implies (at best) a degree of comparison with that between fighter aircraft (SkyMall founder Bob Worsley in political dogfight over Medicaid expansion, Phoenix Business Journal, 13 August 2014; Shot down... Charity forced to cancel airshow event after being caught up in ongoing political dogfight between Sinn Fein and DUP, The Telegraph, 6 August 2014; Political Dogfight, The Heights, 1964).
There is strange significance to the use of simulations of such movements in the testing and training of pilots and astronauts in simulators (NASA Gimbal Rig Mercury Astronaut Trainer; Spaceflight Tumbler; L. Stirling, et al, Self-rotations in simulated microgravity: performance effects of strategy training, Aviation Space Environmental Medicine, 2009). The challenge is one of ensuring appropriate cognitive engagement with flight dynamics in space or ship motions on the sea -- also discussed in terms of heading, elevation and bank (and formalized as Euler angles or Tait-Bryan angles). Testing highlights the ability to control a space capsule simulator under conditions of pitch (a forward or backward somersault), roll (a wing-over-wing flip), and yaw (side-to-side turning).
What equivalent might be imagined for eliciting skills in the embodiment of cognitive vehicles? Some indication is offered by the title of a work by policy scientist Geoffrey Vickers (Freedom on a Rocking Boat, 1972). Does the experience of (intentional) community life perform this role? Of value metaphorically are the conditions of "microgravity" in a policy context in which up and down -- being "upright" -- are ambiguously defined (in moral or ethical terms), if at all. What are the "acrobatic skills" involved in global negotiations? In metaphorical terms, should roll, pitch and yaw be considered the experiential reality of the Cartesian coordinate system with which reality is so misleadingly and simplistically associated?
There is considerable relevance, for example, to the current promotion of yachting and boat-sailing as a source of strategically relevant insight in executive training programmes. Clearly such vehicles do not traverse a static plane surface -- all is not "plane sailing" -- whatever the challenge of its "all-terrain" characteristics. Through metaphor, there is strategic relevance to roll, pitch and yaw -- most simply evident in "rolling with the punch" and "pitching in".
Use of the vehicle metaphor opens the possibility of extending such consideration to include understandings of how the vehicle is operated. This is helpfully framed in relation to the eight images highlighted in the much-cited study by Gareth Morgan (Images of Organization, 1986). Rather than focus on their differences, it is useful to recognize them as complementary aspects of a more fundamental cognitive operation, potentially to be understood in terms of a general systems perspective, or of a higher order of cybernetics, but otherwise as implying a pattern of correspondences.
Organization: The manner in which the vehicle is organized could be usefully highlighted by both the biological and musical understandings of an "organ" -- and its operation. From a biological perspective the issue is how the organs or organisms are creatively engendered within the context of the vehicle. Both this understanding, and the associated cognitive process of the organizer, are readily obscured in the focus on conventional administrative functions and divisions. It is noteworthy that this image is one of the eight of Gareth Morgan (1986). The emphasis here is however on the dynamic process of organization rather the structure of a product typically understood as a static framework.
From a musical perspective, the design and operation of an organ offers an especially rich metaphor. How indeed does playing the organ engender structure through the composition of melodies and harmonic associations? The metaphor has been notably used by Mary Catherine Bateson (Composing a Life, 1991; Composing a Further Life: the Age of Active Wisdom, 2010). Such a framework invites further speculation with regard to global organization (A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? 2006). Rather then browsing the web, surfing, or cruising the internet highways, the future may involve a strange form of aesthetic engagement with what could be understood as songlines (From Information Highways to Songlines of the Noosphere, 1996).
The active cognitive stance with respect to any such organization is consistent with the enactivist argument of Francisco Varela (The Embodied Mind: cognitive science and human experience, 1991; Laying Down a Path in Walking: essays on enactive cognition, 1997). The multidimensional connotations of "composing a life" then contrast radically with the conventions of "planning a life".
Starting: Reference to "vehicle" as a metaphor offers mechanical associations -- another of Gareth Morgan's eight images. This is especially meaningful in relation to any process of starting its operation, most obviously with respect to an automobile or engine. Variants such as kickstarting and cranking up are recognizable. Especially meaningful to some is the booting up of a computer, or the processes of bringing online all systems in any complex factory process.
Terms like booting up are readily comprehensible to computer nerds with reference to their own awakening. In a psychosocial context, use of initiating or instigating may be especially meaningful -- despite the ambiguity potentially associated with undertaking. Particular understanding may be associated with engaging with another.
Driving, piloting and navigating: How is a cognitive vehicle to be "driven" -- given the many familiar associations to the process of driving more tangible vehicles? In contrast with movement over a plane surface, the air and sea examples highlight the threefold challenge of compensating for pitch, roll and yaw. As a means of framing a more general systemic perspective, it might be asked whether analogies to these also merit consideration, as explicitly explored in terms of Clifford Algebra by John Denker (How to Represent Multi-Dimensional Rotations, Including Boosts, 2003; See How it Flies: a new spin on the perceptions, procedures, and principles of flight, 2008). These make some reference to use of virtual reality.
As a guide to exploration of the process for the driver, the use of two hands and two feet in an automobile (or an airplane) offers some sense of the controlling functions to which attention is considered necessary for stable operation. It might be argued that these four operators are doubled to eight through contrasting movements in each case (up/down, on/off or right/left), whereby the direction of movement is determined .
It is interesting that the four limbs have similar control functions on an organ, for example -- effectively such as to navigate through musical space. Appropriately, in both cases, they may be characteristic of haptic interfaces and controls of any immersive experience in a virtual reality environment (as noted below).
In the light of the experience in any conventional organization or vehicle, the argument can be taken further in terms of the need to adapt to the tangible or intangible terrain -- to the destabilizing effects of the environment. It is in this sense that driving and navigating can be understood in terms of the challenge of otherness.
An instructive indication, increasingly feasible with current evolution in immersive technologies, is that explored by writers of science fiction with respect to navigation of "hyperspace". This has been conceived in terms of the art of sensing, imaginatively, the quality of the complex space in the moment and to reconfigure information inputs so as to be able to " swim" , " climb" , " tunnel" or " fly" through it, whichever was most metaphorically appropriate (Engaging with the Inexplicable, the Incomprehensible and the Unexpected, 2010; Imaginal Education: game playing, science fiction, language, art and world-making, 2003)
Curiously each control function can be seen as matched, mirrored or challenged by a particular form of destabilizing otherness. This can be most usefully explored in terms of game-playing.
Strategic telescopy and gunnery "in a rocking boat"? The argument above with respect to "think tanks" is partially developed there with respect to tanks as "all-terrain vehicles" -- and how principles of targetting and gunnery may then frame strategic preoccupations. The situation may be caricatured as if all one has is a missile, then every problem is perceived as a target. This is an adaptation of the traditional strategic adage if all one has is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail -- still exemplified by some diplomatic negotiations (Kerry stays in Vienna to try to hammer out deal on Iran's nuclear program, The Guardian, 21 November 2014).
The organization, coordination and embodiment of the cognitive "loops" are fundamental to the forms of movement noted above. The process of orienting and positioning the circles on the icosahedron (in the above image) can therefore be insightfully compared to the challenges of gunnery in a moving vehicle -- compensating for roll, pitch, and yaw, as in a tank. This is especially evident in the case of the naval gunnery, which partially inspired Buckminster Fuller. Related issues emerge in the design and use of telescopes for tracking distant objects in the universe. As a metaphor, the telescope was remarkably employed by Joël de Rosnay (The Macroscope: a new world scientific system, 1973).
There is some appropriate irony to the fact that the X3DEdit software used to design the above virtual reality image has been created by the US Naval Postgraduate School. It is notably used for the design of Remote Operating Vehicle models. These necessarily call for a degree of cognitive embodiment -- as required for human operation of drones. As in the case of video games, the challenge is then to enable an experience of immersion. whose dimensions have been distinguished by Staffan Björk and Jussi Holopainen (Patterns In Game Design, 2004):
The vehicle metaphor, especially when framed as all-terrain, usefully gives focus to the strategic preoccupation with traction, as separately discussed (Embodiment of Change: Comprehension, Traction and Impact? Discovering enabling questions for the future, 2011).
Playing -- games and music: These offer the most readily accessible and comprehensible sense of a variety of ways of empowering and controlling a cognitive vehicle. Again the possible use of the limbs -- especially with skill -- is highly indicative of how these organs are supportive of cognitive operations. Whether with respect to game- or music-playing, most evident is both the fluidity with which they are engaged and the corresponding cognitive fluidity -- especially if the nature of the play is essentially intangible. In the latter case it is typically associated with creativity and elegance -- the aesthetics of which are appreciated in their own right. Arguments for playful elegance are presented separately:
I suddenly realized that in the language, or at any rate in the spirit of the Glass Bead Game, everything actually was all-meaningful, that every symbol and combination of symbol led not hither and yon, not to single examples, experiments, and proofs, but into the center, the mystery and innermost heart of the world, into primal knowledge. Every transition from major to minor in a sonata, every transformation of a myth or a religious cult, every classical or artistic formulation was, I realized in that flashing moment, if seen with truly a meditative mind, nothing but a direct route into the interior of the cosmic mystery, where in the alternation between inhaling and exhaling, between heaven and earth, between Yin and Yang holiness is forever being created.
These and other associations offer curious echoes to the elaboration of a " game of spheres" by Nicholas de Cusa (De Ludo Globi, 1463), written as a contribution to both a literature and a practice of moral game-playing. This formed part of the tradition of the forgotten chess-like game Rithmomachia (" The Battle of Numbers" or Rythmomachy), which combined the pleasures of gaming with mathematical study and moral education.
Intellectuals of the medieval and Renaissance periods who played this game were not only seeking to master the principles of Boethian mathematics but were striving to improve their own understanding of the secrets of the cosmos (Ann E. Moyer, In The Philosophers' Game, 2001). It has been an inspiration to the magnum opus of Hesse, as noted by Todd R. Harris (The Interplay of Opposites, the Language of Experience, and the Geometry of Ascent: a comparison of Hermann Hesse's "Das Glasperlenspiel" and Nicholas of Cusa's "De Ludo Globi" , 2001).
Of particular interest is the articulation by science fiction writer M. A. Foster (Gameplayers of Zan, 1977), notably regarding the extent to which future navigation by a space-time vehicle was dependent on a special form of game-playing -- required to keep the vessel in place whilst it was being constructed. This is explained as follows:
...the Game is a game, true enough. but it is rather intricate and multiplex, and capable of truly bottomless subtleties. Therefore each who enters it comes to see different things in it. Some see music, others language. Still others life processes; and others chemistry and the like. (p. 171).... It seems to be tied up deeply in the popular religion, a kind of movable morality play...factions, rivalries, the whole thing. (p. 264)
Also of relevance are the remarkable arguments regarding infinite games by James P. Carse (Finite and Infinite Games: a vision of life as play and possibility, 1986) in which the objective is to ensure that game-playing has no closure through winning or losing. As reviewed by Flemming Funch (Finite and Infinite Games), this is described in the following terms:
There are at least two kinds of games: finite and infinite. A finite game is a game that has fixed rules and boundaries, that is played for the purpose of winning and thereby ending the game. An infinite game has no fixed rules or boundaries. In an infinite game you play with the boundaries and the purpose is to continue the game.
Finite players are serious; infinite games are playful. Finite players try to control the game, predict everything that will happen, and set the outcome in advance. They are serious and determined about getting that outcome. They try to fix the future based on the past. Infinite players enjoy being surprised. Continuously running into something one didn't know will ensure that the game will go on. The meaning of the past changes depending on what happens in the future.
Significant to recognition of the variety of cognitive functions brought into play in a game are the pieces on a classical 8x8 chess board. The significance can be discussed in relation to go as the Eastern counterpart played on a 19x19 board (Sustainability through Magically Dancing Patterns: 8x8, 9x9, 19x19 -- I Ching, Tao Te Ching / T'ai Hsüan Ching, Wéiqí (Go), 2008)
As previously noted (Strategy games as pointers to comprehension of multi-dimensionality, 2006), games like chess and go are frequently associated with comments concerning the distinct " energy" or tensions characteristic of certain strategic conditions. A valuable description of this subtle perception is provided (in translation) by Michel Bruneau (Dynamic Chess Classification -- Chess Theory) which explicitly acknowledges how difficult it is to explain the meaning of " energy" in chess. The document distinguishes, and comments on, 7 game conditions: "Quick divergency" , "Slow divergency" , " Damped divergency" , "Unstable" , "Balanced" , "xhausted" , " Aborted".
Bruneau states that " chess energy" or " tension" is the result of various imbalances appearing on the chessboard during the unfolding of the game. Their brief description, in energy terms, of each condition -- as a discontinuity -- suggests an intriguing resemblance to geometrical descriptions of the 7 catastrophes. Their descriptions might be usefully refined by a chess-playing mathematician familiar with catastrophe theory. Such descriptions might also be usefully confronted with analogous descriptions by go-playing mathematicians (cf David H. Stern et al. Modelling Uncertainty in the Game of Go; Bruno Bouzy and Tristan Cazenave, Computer Go: an AI oriented survey, 2001).
Visual metaphors implying sensing (rather than simply seeing): The argument here is that the 3D image above is a step towards a surface with which metaphors of dynamics can be fruitfully associated -- suggestive of a vehicle and its driver in some way, and the "feel" the driver needs to cultivate in order to operate it. Some sense of the driver's relation to the vehicle, as implied by the image above, is offered by its comparison with the seating offered for the driver on the enneagram crossbar -- perhaps somehow enthroned or crouched.
This seating variously recalls that of a ski lift and some paragliding configurations. It is also reminiscent of that of a fan boat or of an ultralight plane. Other than the dimensions to which the drivers are necessarily sensitive, there is the sense in which the configuration is suggestive of the cognitive operation and design of the "psychopter" with which Arthur Young was ultimately concerned. This was inspired by his work on the helicopter and its control. With the circles indicative of rotor movement, how many "rotors" would be required for the stable operation of a "psychopter"? Especially interesting is the sense in which the above image is reminiscent of the the manner in which an astronaut or pilot is encapsulated within a space capsule simulator (as mentioned above) -- again raising the question of the cognitive correspondence to the movements within such a simulator.
Such a capsule recalls the design of the time machine which featured so significantly in the science fiction film Contact (1997) based on the novel by Carl Sagan. The early conceptual design of the device was based on one of the primary shapes in geometry, namely a dodecahedron. Does this suggest how sustainable cognitive navigation might be imagined -- somehow "encased" within such a rotational dynamic?
Ironically the 3D image is potentially most suggestive of the biblical description of the Chariot of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 10:14). This has been the subject of extensive commentary, whether as a focus for traditional Merkabah mysticism or as an oft-cited instance of possible early visitation by extraterrestrials. Given the arguments and examples above, there is a case for imagining that the biblical description is a 3D presentation of a vehicle more appropriately understood in four or more dimensions. With respect to the above image, for example, the set of four circles lend themselves to consideration as the ophanim of that description. The circles might also be understood in some way as interlocking halos ***
Of some relevance to the argument here is the sense in which Ezekiel's report fails to take account of the possibility that his vision was more a reflection of his own condition as a charioteer than observation of some externality, as argued separately (Radical Cognitive Mirroring of Globalization: dynamically inning the unquestioningly outed, 2014). Expressed otherwise, the issue here is how is the observer effectively transformed into the charioteer controlling an embodied vehicle.
The cautionary strictures traditionally associated with Merkabah mysticism are of some relevance to forestalling premature closure on oversimplistic interpretation of the above image. These are usefully articulated in the relevant Wikipedia entry. From a cognitive perspective, also of some relevance is the relationship of such mysticism to the classical guide of Maimonides (The Guide for the Perplexed, ca. 1204) which was a direct inspiration for the influential economist E. F. Schumacher (A Guide for the Perplexed, 1977). Of more cynical relevance to those promoting social change initiatives, the circles recall the sense of being made to "jump through hoops" by manipulative authorities.
Cognitive metabolism and metabolic pathways: The image in virtual reality is proposed as a means of supporting a sense of metabolic cycles -- understood in a cognitive sense. Arthur Young explicitly addresses the possibility of the "learning/action cycles" required to control a helicopter -- and, by extension, a potential psychosocial analogue he understood as the "winged self".
The literature on the various traditional patterns of insight -- termed "constellations" here -- typically identifies what may be understood as forms of cognitive metabolism, named otherwise. This is especially evident in the case of the enneagram and those associated with the Chinese classics (I Ching, Ba Gua, Tài Xuán Jing, Wu Xing). The I Ching offers an extensively articulated example, as separately discussed (Transformation Metaphors -- derived experimentally from the Chinese Book of Changes (I Ching) for sustainable dialogue, vision, conferencing, policy, network, community and lifestyle, 1997).
Although the subject of extensive commentary, disciplines and practice, yet to be further clarified is the nature of the flows and cycles with which cognitive metabolic pathways are associated. One traditional discussion uses the metaphor of circulation of the light, as separately discussed (Circulation of the Light: essential metaphor of global sustainability? 2010). Of particular interest is the intuitive attraction of epics suggestive of such processes (Emergent Integrity of a Configuration of Cognitive Cycles: a " Lord of the Rings" , 2009) as they may prove to be of relevance to governance (Cognitive Cycles Vital to Sustainable Self-Governance, 2009).
Another approach is in terms of conversation threading -- as most obviously evident on the internet. Such threads pose the question of how a higher order of cognitive organization may emerge through their interweaving, interlocking and mutual entanglement, as separately discussed (Interweaving Thematic Threads and Learning Pathways Noonautics, Magic carpets and Wizdomes, 2010; Spherical Configuration of Categories -- to reflect systemic patterns of environmental checks and balances, 1994).
Understood by an individual at a common focus for a set of interwoven threads, how might these be experienced in cyclic terms as reframing the identity of that focus? How might this be understood in terms of emergence of a form of cyclic identity (Emergence of Cyclical Psycho-social Identity: sustainability as "psyclically" defined, 2007).
The domains with which strategically significant metaphors are associated can be usefully explored as a form of constellation. It is then appropriate to note how metaphors associated with one domain are borrowed by others -- suggesting that they communicate systemic insights and patterns otherwise unnamed. The following table is indicative of the process. It can also be considered indicative of the continuing struggle to offer collectively comprehensible images of subtle systemic dynamics transcending conventional language -- a form of global sensemaking.
|Qualitative constellations of metaphors used to label experiences in disparate domains|
|darkness||waves, tides, winds (of opinion)||fog
with the truth"
|reputation||"in the cold"||sympathetic / hostile
|beneficial||celebrity stars||-||"in the know",
"out of the loop"
|"knock them out",
In a period in which widespread emphasis is placed on the rising temperature associated with climate change, it is appropriate to consider -- in the light of the above comparison -- the extent to which this may be usefully recognized as a metaphor for other forms of "heating".
This is most evident with respect to overheated economies, to social unrest, and to heated political and ideological discourse. Is there a danger of a "2 degree" rise in social unrest before the end of the century? Does climate change discourse distract from recognition of such phenomena which undermine consensus on effective response to it? (Climate Change as a Metaphor of Social Change: systemic implications of emissions, ozone, sunlight, greenhouse and overheating, 2008).
The process could be explored more systematically through patterns of correspondences with which credibility is variously associated (Theories of Correspondences -- and potential equivalences between them in correlative thinking, 2007).
The process of elaboration of the virtual reality image above was born of various degrees of ignorance, incomprehension and incompetence. From this basis it is of some interest how others might be empowered to explore, design and interact with structures in virtual reality. The most fundamental lesson is associated with the contrast between the relative ease and clarity of representation in 2D, and the relative difficulty of spherical geometry -- despite its greater correspondence to experiential reality. This has strategic implications.
The virtual reality modeling language (VRML) has evolved through VRML97 to a new standard X3D. This evolution has created the usual issues of compatibility between installed browsers, operating systems and readily available plugins -- as well as the emergence of alternative interfaces. One of the great advantages of the simpler earlier variants has been the ease with which files could be prepared and modified using simple text editors.
Given the earlier experience(with virtual reality (as noted above), some insight is to be gained from the stages involved (for the author) in successfully depicting an enneagram within an icosahedron:
Image editing: initial use of a simple text editor, given the relative simplicity of the icosahedron and positioning the enneagram within it.
Positioning circles: the circles indicated on the image above are primarily those through selected vertices of the icosahedron:
Distinguishing elements: there is clearly a need to distinguish features with which cognitive significance can be associated (whether vertices, lines or circles) using colour, size, thickness and transparency:
Viewpoints: the process of viewing virtual reality scenes allows "viewpoints" to be pre-defined, enabling users to shift from one point to another, via a menu of named viewpoints whilst using a viewer):
Optional additional features: various additional features could be associated with the image
Interactive possibilities: both classic VRML and the X3D upgrade provide for interactive possibilities whereby the user can modify the image -- beyond simply switching between viewpoints and rotating the structures as a whole. These become more feasible in X3D and its Java extension (X3JD). Possibilities include: resizing, recoloring, additional structures (icosa, inner sphere, enneagram, faces on cylinders with top/bottom attributes, circle (through vertices and tangential), other circles, wireframe rendering
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