9. Spatio-Temporal Perspectives: A new way for cognitive enhancement
Dr. Andreas Goppold
Postf. 2060, 89010 Ulm, Germany
Tel. ++49 +731 921-6931
Fax: (Goppold:) +731 501-999
Computer technology is now in the third generation: presently
micro computers, after mainframes, and minis, with the fourth already in the
waiting (Landauer 1995, Norman 1993, 1998, Memex). Development of computer
systems has so far been driven by technology- and marketing concerns, and not by
human-potential issues, as critics point out (Landauer, Norman, Businessweek,
Common, Engelbart, Karn). We can even go one step further and postulate that
computer technology is constrained by an unexamined, outdated Kuhnian paradigm
(Kuhn 1962): So far, it has mostly been used to mechanize the symbolics that
humans had been using in the last 5000 years (Bolter 1991, Krämer 1988,
Landow 1992, 1994).
Spatial perspective arose from the survival related
developments of human evolution, our origin in the biosphere (Anthro, Calvin,
Skoyles). As Calvin points out, the superior human facilities of spatial
orientation and action were essential for the evolution of intelligence. The
ability to throw objects with precision at moving targets (meaning the immense
amount of neuronal computation necessary for orientation, self-stabilization,
target-tracking, and trajectory projection), has been decisive in shaping the
neuronal infrastructure that made us human. Using the human body as a ballistic
propulsion subsystem is a neuronal computation achievement of much higher
requirement than the linear force-translation of, say, a bow-and-arrow system,
or simpler still, a gun. It means force-coupling a ballistical mechanical device
to a human body - the arsenal of paleolithic weapons: boomerangs, propulsors,
atl-atls, bolas, and slingshots (Bellier 1990). These were the greatest feats of
neuronal interface technology of the last one million years. In present-day
applications, we are not surprised to find the most advanced neuronal interface
cybernetics in high-grade weapons systems: aimed to perform essentially the same
purposes as a million years ago, but with "a bigger bang for the buck". Still
time is essential: he who shoots first, and most accurately, is going to win. In
military parlance, this is called the OODA-Loop: Observation, Orientation,
Decision, Action (Stein 1998).
In the more refined higher-order human symbolic
activities, this basic neuronal computation infrastructure found its
appropriate re-use. The Renaissance usage of perspective in art has
re-introduced and re-formulated these neuronal cybernetics as a general symbolic
ordering principle. Kim Veltman has coined the metaphor of Conceptual
Navigation for overlooking and zooming into the vast knowledge spaces of our
cultural heritage with multimedia systems (Veltman). A wider meaning of
perspective involves the utilization of our rich neuronal potential of
spatial metaphors (Benking) embedded in our bodies for traversing "The Global
Semiosphere" (Hoffmeyer 1997). While phylogenetic evolution has fitted us
with an optimal equipment for dealing with spatiality, the issue of temporality
is dominated by cultural evolution. The human temporal horizon of personal
memory and experience is limited by our lifetime: about 75 years. All cultural
evolution of the last 500,000 or so years was a product of the accumulation and
re-organization of the cultural materials of the Semiosphere. Thus, the
ability to overlook and traverse the depths of the cultural memory of humanity
constitutes the Spatio-Temporal Perspective.
The crucial factor of Spatio-Temporal Perspective will
be called Neuronal Resonance. The depth-time structure of culture, our
symbolic "deep space", was treated for a long time from the viewpoint of western
writing culture, and only now are we coming to appreciate its neuronal
infrastructure details (Brock, Skoyles). Symbols are the most recent, but
certainly not the last evolutionary step in the long transmission of behavioral
complexes among organisms, which started right with the first bacteria 4-5
billion years ago, and evolved in parallel with genetic evolution (Biosem,
Bloom). In higher animals, all perception and behavior is mapped onto neuronal
excitation fields in their brains, and all communicative and manipulative acts
lead therefore to neuronal resonance fields. An ergonomically optimized tool or
instrument will translate into an optimized neuronal resonance for its user.
Music is the art system for producing and appreciating neuronal
resonances. Invisibly hidden beneath the familiar complaints about computers
(Landauer), and generally motor-driven machinery is their basic incompatibility
with human neuronal resonance rhythms. Tognazzini (1993) shows us examples in
HCI, where he details the working methods of stage magicians as "manipulations
of time" (p. 359). Of course, it is not the flow of newtonian time that is
manipulated, but the working of the human nervous system, whose rhythmics
generates our perception of (subjective) time. For "new frontiers of cognitive
enhancement", the factor of neuronal resonance will be essential, but
this area has so far seen very little research (Halang 1992, Innis, McLuhan).
There is some work around "Flow" (Csikszentmihalyi 1990, Karn 1997: 64). This
denotes hard-to-define intellect-augmentation effects (Engelbart) that can
occur, when expert work is able to proceed in uninterrupted sequences of
cumulative efficiency. Time factor is critical, since it is interrelated with
the human attention span and capacity of the short term memory. Neuronal
resonance effects are enhanced when (parts of) the human body enter a
dance-like rhythmics. Therefore, a short time lag of about 1/10 sec seems
essential. Noticeable augmentation effects are attained mainly when a high level
of user training and expertise is started with at the beginning, which severly
limits the systematic application and testing (Karn 1997).
For practical HCI applications of neuronal
resonance, we can cite systems designed for the former generation of mini
computers: APL and MUMPS. These were renowned as the most powerful programming
systems ever created by man. In terms of the OODA loop metaphor, they yielded
maximum power for observation, orientation, decision, and action on the base of
careful fine-tuning of the software to the rather minimal technology that was
available then: Winchester hard disk, 80*25 CRT alphanumeric display, and 32-64
K RAM Processor. Since APL and MUMPS were virtual machine codes disguised as
programming languages (and hand-crafted in native assembler), they offered
extremely powerful command facilities with a few quick key-strokes (which the
programmer, of course, had to memorize). The HCI "secret" of these systems was
the neuronal resonance circuit thus created, of tight-fitting incremental
loops of code-viewing, understanding, modifying,
testing, and evaluating, the DP equivalence of the OODA loop. The
later generation of mouse-driven HCI (WIMP) has sacrificed speed of interaction
in favor of mass market access, leaving the power users out in the cold. This is
financially understandeable, but it poses an insidious cul-de-sac for human
symbolic evolution that could be possible with multi media symbol systems. Some
avenues for further development are probed in (Goppold).
, P. (1966). Les elamites
inventaient l'ecriture. Archeologia
Bellier, C., Chattelain. (1990). La chasse dans la
prehistoire. Treignes: Ed. du Cedarc.
Bloom, H.: History of the Global
, J. (1991). Writing
. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.
Brock, B. Neuronale
, W. H. The throwing
, The cerebral code.
, M.(1958). La grande
invention de l'écriture et son évolution
. Paris: Imprimerie
Chandler, D. Media Theory Web
Common (1993). Common Elements in Today's Graphical User
Interfaces: INTERCHI '93, ACM, p. 470-473.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow. New York: Harper
Engelbart, D. http://www.bootstrap.org/biblio.htm
, A. (1985). The origins of
war: from the Stone Age to Alexander the Great. London: Thames and Hudson
Günther, Gotthard (1976). Beiträge zur Grundlegung
einer operationsfähigen Dialektik - Bd. 1. Hamburg : Felix Meiner
Halang, W. (1992). Zum unterentwickelten Zeitbegriff der
Informatik. Physik und Informatik. Berlin: Springer, 30-40.
Hoffmeyer, J. (1997). The Global Semiosphere. In: Rauch, I.,
Carr (eds.): Semiotics Around the World. Berlin: Mouton, pp. 933-936.
Karn, K. S.; Perry, T. J.; Krolczyk, M. J. (1997). Testing for
Power Usability. SIGCHI Bulletin, 29 (4), Oct , p. 63-67.
, S. (1988).
Wiss. Buchges. Darmstadt.
Kuhn, T. (1962). The Structure of Scientific
Revolutions. Chicago: U of Chicago Pr.
Landauer, T. (1995). The trouble with computers.
Cambridge: MIT Press.
, G. (1992). Hypertext.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins.
Landow, G. (ed) (1994). Hyper / Text / Theory.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins.
Nadin, Mihai. (1997). Civilization of Illiteracy, Dresden:
Dresden Univ. Press
Norman, D. A. (1993). Things that make us smart.
Norman, D. A. (1998). The invisible computer.
Cambridge: MIT Press.
Pöppel, Ernst (1993). Das Drei-Sekunden Bewußtsein.
Psychologie Heute. 10/93, S. 58-63
Salthe, S.: Evolving hierarchical systems, Columbia Univ.
Press, New York (1985)
. Special issue on
paleosemiotics. Vol. 100-2/4
Spengler, O. (1980). Der Untergang des Abendlandes.
Stein, G. (1998). Talk at Ars Electronica Infowar Symposion.
Sun Tsu: Über die Kunst des Krieges, übers. Klaus
Tognazzini, B. (1993). Principles, Techniques, and Ethics of
Stage Magic. INTERCHI '93, pp. 355-362. New York: ACM
Veltman, Kim. http://www.sumscorp.com/articles/
Yates, F. (1990). Gedächtnis und Erinnern. Weinheim:
engl: 1966. The Art of Memory, London: Routledge&Kegan