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12. The LPL TLSI Principle: Neuronal Resonance Technology, User Interface Language, and End User Programming Language

(Preliminary version)

Dr. Andreas Goppold
Postf. 2060, 89010 Ulm, Germany
Tel. ++49 +731 921-6931
Fax: (Goppold:) +731 501-999 (URL)

12.1. Abstract

The accompanying paper: "Neuronal Resonance and User Interface Technology" deals with the theoretical backgrounds and the history of NR Technology, as well as some of its design principles, and a critical look at current GUI technology for its omissions and defects in the NRT realm. This line of thought will be pursued here to explore the application of NRT for constructing "User-Tailored Information Environments".

After fifty years of wider and wider penetration throughout all sectors of society, the information technology arising from the merging of computers, media, and telecommunications has reached a ubiquitousness level where it is to be considered as a societal infrastructure that needs to be treated like a public utility, similar to the construction and maintenance of roads, railways, and air-traffic lanes, and other public service facilities on which civilized life depends, extending to the access of uncontaminated air, water, and food supplies.

When User Interface Technology is considered as a systems design subject in its own right, this indicates that it is more than a technical and marketing factor that is subservient to the capital cycling and utilization processes of the respective industry. The present UIT situation can be viewed as the outcome of a vonNeumann game of player coalitions, and of societal power struggles of industry-capital complexes, much like the processes that happened in the 18th and 19th century of industrial history, when monopolies and cartels were forged and dismantled, or became entrenched and part of the societal power structure.

The present paper outlines a strategy for creating a technological infrastructure supporting "User-Tailored Information Environments": the Leibniz LPL TLSI Principle. This is based on a VM (or Metacode Machine) principle similar to the Java VM, and it allows the formulation of an alternative model of technological and societal structure by which the requirements for adapting software for local needs can be met.

12.2. Abbreviations

aka also known as
CIA Common Interface ASCII
EUPL End User Programming Language
GUI Graphical User Interface
HW Hardware
LPL Leibniz Programming Language
NR Neuronal Resonance
NRT Neuronal Resonance Technology
OS Operating System
RSI Repeated Stress / Strain Injury
SW Software
TLSI Token List Subroutine Interpreter
UIL User Interface Language
UIT User Interface Technology
VM Virtual Machine
WIMP Windows - Icon - Mouse - Pointing UIT

12.3. Keywords

Human Factors Design, Time- Memory- Interaction- Flow, Human Memory Bandwith and Attention Span, Neuronal Resonance Technology, Hypermedia Browser Technology, User Interface Technology, User Interface Language, End User Programming Language, Virtual Machine Design

12.4. The political dimensions of technological infrastructure decisions:
Lessons from industrial history

Introductory literature: Anthro, Chandler, Creveld (1999), Diamond (1976), Eisenstein (1979), Gellner (1993), Giesecke (1991), Goppold (1984a, 1984b, 1992a-1992c, 1994b, 1995), Innis (1952-1991), Kingdon (1997), Mumford (1934-1977), Smith (1994), Wittfogel (1957) [34].

The admonition of Santayana: "Those who don't know history are condemned to repeat it" applies most acutely to the computer industry, whose different technological and historical phases (Mainframe, Mini, Micro, Network, ...) are characterized by a historical amnesia, with the same errors committed over again in every generation. The hard-earned lessons from former failures reported by the one-time master architect of IBM's mainframe operating systems, F. P. Brooks, related in "The Mythical Man-Month" (1975) have gone completely unheeded as the present-day monster operating systems of MS Windows® flavor show. Therefore, a very quick commemoration of the past 5000 year epoch of technological innovations (and its sometimes unexpected, and unwanted side-effects) is advisable, even if this is not the place to fully delve into it. For this, the above literature references will give an entry point.

Ever since the emergence of the first hydraulic civilizations around 5000 years ago, the fundamental decisions concerning technological infrastructure exerted a strong, even determining influence on the social structures of the respective societies. Even while the exact details are a matter of academic dispute, their general inter-dependency is universally recognized.

At present, computer technology has seen a period of fifty years of continuous expansion, and of wider and wider penetration throughout all sectors of society. There is now a new societal technological infrastructure in place, the information technology that has arisen from the merging of computers, media, and telecommunications. Because of its general spread throughout all the industrialized societies, and because they are vitally dependent on this infrastructure, the technology needs to be considered as a public utility, similar to the construction and maintenance of roads, railways, and air-traffic lanes. And like all the public service facilities on which civilized life depends, the question of universal access becomes imperative, similar to the fundamental issue of access to uncontaminated air, water, and food supplies.

The issue of "User-Tailored Information Environments" is in many respects a fundamental infrastructure question which extends deeply into the societal "rules and regulations" side: the question of the legal status and the intellectual property rights of the information infrastructures vs. equality of access and fair usage statutes. Under the present regime, the fixation of intellectual property rights as a capital asset of the SW industry leads to the direct consequence that many of the information access routes that would be necessary for optimally adopting Information Environments to the user, are blocked by trade secrets.

As was already mentioned in the accompanying article ("Neuronal Resonance and User Interface Technology"), the present UIT situation can be viewed as the outcome of a vonNeumann game of player coalitions, and of societal power struggles of industry-capital complexes against their competitors, and against the rest of society, much like the processes that happened in the 18th and 19th century of industrial history, when monopolies and cartels were forged and dismantled, or became entrenched and part of the societal power structure. The present Microsoft monopoly lawsuit is just an indicator of the general situation, and it had its precedent in the IBM lawsuit of a few years ago, and its forerunner and close parallels were the various telecommunications monopoly breakups, like the AT&T in the U.S. or the Telecoms in Europe, and before that, the electricity, steel, and oil conglomerates.

The issue of "User-Tailored Information Environments" turns into a general question of access routes into the infrastructures of information systems. In order to achieve that aim, one has to solve the trade secret questions necessarily associated with the know-how and licensing for those persons who adapt and tailor an "Information Environment", who have to get into the "machinery" of the SW. The principal field of (con-) tension is the interest conflict of centralization vs. localization. The "User-Tailoring of Information Environments" can only be done with the local know-how of the user. And a centralized vendor, who likes to direct all SW adaptations from his home office, is not in the condition to accommodate to a multitude of local adaptations, and spread his resources thin in this way. The access into the "machinery" of the SW is made difficult or easy by the choice of the infrastructure technology. An open system like LINUX (and most UNIX systems) maintains all their configuration data in text-editor accessible, ASCII readable files. A closed system, like Windows® tends to hide the configuration files and their structure (system.dat, user.dat, regedit), as much as seems advisable and most profitable from a trade secret point of view of the aspiring monopolistic vendor.

Another area of concern are the User Interface definitions, the layout of menus, the keyboard bindings, the help and command texts, those aspects of the Information Environment which are covered under the terms UIL and EUPL. (Dertouzos (1992), De Souza (1993, 1996)). In the present compiler based SW technology, these definitions are mostly embedded in the compiled module or in the DLLs. Again, this is as much a technical issue as a societal and legal one, since to change these definitions, one needs access to tools and proprietary information from the vendor, who again likes to keep all this under control. On the other hand, there is no reason in principle why the vendor could not compile only one version for all different language applications, and different user specifications, and design them open enough to make them field-adaptable by local providers. But this means loss of centralized control by the vendor who has better control over pricing, and sealing local markets off against each other, when these adaptations cannot be performed locally.

To facilitate the maximum flexibility for "User-Tailored Information Environments", the presently used compiler technology is not optimal, and an alternative interface technology will be presented here, called CIA: The Common Interface ASCII. This has been developed in the Leibniz LPL system and its further details will be the subject of the next sections.

12.5. Cognitive Engineering and NRT

The OODA principles of NRT design can be adopted with a few slight variations to UIT. As was pointed out above, they mainly consist of rhythmically close-coupling the interplay between the human cognitive and manipulative factors, the human memory, and the access and display speed and data volume of the information devices. All these factors must be brought into an optimal balance, which is also precarious easily lost, when technological and personal factors change (as for example, the change from a naive user to an expert user). The work of Ishii and Veltman [35] shows theoretical and practical approaches to various aspects of this task domain.

12.5.1. The OODA Loop and application in UIT Cognitive Engineering

12.5.2. A "Magic" Triangle of SW productivity

12.5.3. UIT and Cognitive Engineering as Technological Ars Memoriae

NRT supported Cognitive Engineering means enhancement of human memory. This had its precedents in the Ars Memoriae techniques in Antiquity and the Renaissance (Yates 1989, 1990). The Renaissance Ars Memoriae masters (Giordano Bruno, Giulio Camillo, Robert Fludd) used elaborate poly-hierarchic access schemata for their systems. This intermeshing of several parallel hierarchic access systems is one of the most important and most pressing needs for the management of humanity's knowledge bases. It primarily involves time critical Real-Time tasks of:

Building and modifying external auxiliary memory structures "on the fly" or "as we go".

Real-Time structure compilers

Real-Time Hypertext linkers / automatic link generation

Real-Time feature / information extraction

12.6. The LPL TLSI principle, technological Ars Memoriae, EUPL, UIL, and CIA

Introductory literature: Goppold (1992c-1992d, 1993, 1994a, 1996a, 1996b). (URL) (URL) (URL)

The Leibniz LPL system was developed by A. Goppold between 1984 and 1995, originating initially as a stand-alone SW development system for industrial real-time control applications. The connection to present-day multimedia systems is evident when their technical nature as subset of the real-time task control domain is considered. In the development process, the system grew to about 10,000 functions in 100,000 lines code with 6 megabytes source, and 500 source and configuration files. In 1985 it was probably the first SW system that integrated the hypertext principle into the design programming language. (Other systems had the hypertext principle grafted onto, which diminished its efficiency.)

The essential factor of hypertext integration is speed: the ability to access any function or documentation one needs to examine within a few keystrokes, or within about 1/10 sec. minimum, and an average of 1 sec, a performance that is beyond the "sound barrier" of present day GUI paradigms because of the slow-down effect of mouse-clicking. The LPL system was perhaps the first and only NR-optimized SW system ever conceived. (Even if these ideas and principles were unknown to the designer at the time of inception. This came much later as result of far-reaching researches into the neuronal infrastructures of the human mind.) In the course of research in the NR principles, it was found that the methods thus developed had led into an independent re-invention of ancient principles of Ars Memoriae. The LPL system can be considered as a modern-day mnemotechnic machine. Because effects like this are conceptually inexistent in the technical spectrum of academically acknowledged computer science paradigms, it proved impossible in 15 years of R&D to even publish about these results in academic papers, due to the screening effect of the temporal-factors insensitive computer science peer review academic mindset.

12.6.1. The Leibniz TLSI Virtual Machine

The basic technical principle of the LPL TLSI is based on a VM (Virtual Machine, or Metacode Machine), similar to the one used in Java® (and compatible with it). Similar to SUN's system philosophy, it is the ultimately open system: The TLSI system was designed on the base of a minimal kernel system of about 50 K bytes, to be completely open and extendable in all ways. Its power rests on the ability to create special-purpose interpreters for special applications on the fly, in the field, and even by the end-user. A similar approach is the popular EMACS editor which implements its functionality in a special interpreter. The minimal run time kernel can be linked on top of a C compatible system. This allows to use the TLSI as a re-vectorable and re-programmable interactive user interface with any existing linkable software (the host system). The minimal kernel alone provides the equivalent of an interactive low-level debug monitor system that allows to test and execute any of the functionality of the host system that one desires interactive access to. Any routine can at any time be called separately from the interactive user shell. By way of its macro programmability, any higher assembly of a set of basic host functions can be constructed on the fly.

12.6.2. EUPL: User Programming of the Macro System

The TLSI approach offers a very easy way to achieve a secondary programming facility or End User Programming Language (EUPL). The developer of the basic SW functionality (the provider) can use a standard compiler technology or an authoring system to provide the tool set which the user (or secondary programmer) can then extend into any direction he deems necessary. All secondary programming can be done with the macro language of the TLSI. The TLSI can provide a large functionality to the user without having to include the original authoring system or the compiler package, who is also relieved from the need to learn the conventions of the authoring system, he needs only to concentrate on the functionality that is offered by the specific TLSI interface which the SW provider supplies. This approach allows a comfortable division of expertise and responsibilities between the different groups involved in the authoring process of a SW system. The software engineers need only to deal with their compiler tools and SW methodology to provide a rich tool set of TLSI tools for secondary, or applications developers to build their systems upon.

12.6.3. UIL: User Interface Language, Field Configuration, Integrated Help

The TLSI principle allows the construction of a very simple and effective common interface shell on top of different software systems, thus providing a generalized User Interface Language (UIL) that is adaptdable to specific user profiles. It allows to create flexible keyboard bindings and window menu layouts. All the functionality of the system is configured in ASCII readable files, that can be changed and re-configured with any text editor, at any time, even while the system is running, without any re-compile or otherwise low-level system interaction. Ideally the whole menu structure of the system resides in a single file, giving also a transparent access path to the logical structure of the whole system. In the Leibniz Hypertext Software Development System, an integrated hypertext function connects every menu with an associated help text residing in an ASCII readable text file that can be accessed in hypertext manner.

12.7. CIA: The Common Interface ASCII, Macro Script Languages,
forming a link between compilers and WIMP interfaces

The LPL TLSI principle can be used to provide a uniform programmable interface layer between a set of precompiled modules provided by a SW vendor, and the final product accessible to the end-user. This layer is also called the CIA: The Common Interface ASCII.

The approach taken by the Leibniz TLSI is a revival of ancient script languages: APL (NIAL), MUMPS, SNOBOL, combined with the UNIX shell script filter and pipe principle. In the earlier days of computing, these script systems were very popular with their user communities because they supplied very powerful processing paradigms with easy-to use access interfaces for specific data types: APL (NIAL) for numeric and character arrays, MUMPS for string and data base handling, SNOBOL for string processing. The single-character operator command structures of APL and MUMPS were in fact a direct translation of the underlying byte code machine glorified as user interface, that gave these languages their distinctive and elegant mathematical-looking write-only flavor that was as equally cherished by their adherents as it was abhorred by their detractors. On the upside of the tradeoff balance, these were also the most powerful programming languages ever created, and it was not only possible but very easy to write a data processing solutions with five lines, that would need five pages with contemporary C or Pascal code, object oriented or not. In textual information applications, the powerful string capabilities of SNOBOL are needed for the complex context-dependent string and text search, while an approach derived from the matrix handling model of APL is to be used for the more general data type of graph traversal and search strategies. While in matrix processing, it is of no concern by which order the elements are processed, this is very much of concern in tree traversal. Only the combination of string and graph data model approaches can yield a truly versatile and powerful toolset. These strategies can, of course, be implemented in any suitable interpreter model, be it LISP, Smalltalk, or a variant of BASIC. In any case, the data processing infrastructure, the libraries and data structure machines must have the minimum processing power, regardless of the syntactic icing applied on top. The approach taken with the TLSI model was chosen for reasons of flexibility: The TLSI is dynamically user-modifiable, imposing no syntactic structure on the solution space. Since the TLSI is a general implementation of a bytecode machine, it can be, and has been, used to implement other languages, like BASIC, LISP, MUMPS, or APL.

The fine-tuning of UIT necessitates very powerful field-adaptable interactive script, query, and macro languages. These requirements cannot be satisfied either by current compiler based technology, nor by WIMP interfaces. Standard compiler technology like C (and compiled Java) programming is unusable for field-adapting search and evaluation script strategies. WIMP is also problematic, because of the one-shot character of a WIMP interaction sequence. A script derivation of WIMP interactions is possible, and moderatly usable, like Apple's user interface transaction logging facility.

12.7.1. APL, MUMPS, generic data types, and bytecode machines

APL and MUMPS are systems from the early days of computing which were developed on the old mainframes or mini computers that typically had a maximum of 32 K words of RAM address space, but provided fast hard disk access and they implemented extremely powerful scripting languages dealing with a wide range of data types. This model can be used to break the UNIX cr-file metaphor bottleneck. Each of these systems implemented a highly complex file metaphor and combined with an extremely powerful programming mechanism that was essentially a bytecode machine that operated on this data type. Even though the programmers of these systems have by now mostly retired or have moved on to newer technology, when two or three of these old-timers meet, you can still hear them talk about their old systems somewhat like old warriors talking about their old tanks and fighter planes. This is more than pure techno-romance of a by-gone age, more than "Real Programmers don't use Pascal" mythology. There is a truth to the story. These systems were the most powerful programming environments ever invented by man, only to be watered down by later generations of SW products. Of course, they yielded their power only in the hands of experts, and needed quite some training. But where in heaven or on earth could you write a fully functional program with a maximum of one-80x25-screenful of code, as was the routine in these languages?

12.7.2. A missing link in the SW universe: powerful scripting languages

The computer industry has a natural tendency to supply those behemouth WIMP systems to the whole world, for various reasons: First, the constant dependable need for new hardware through constantly increased computing requirements of the SW. That benefits the shareholder value of the industry like nothing else (silicon snake oil, as Clifford Stoll called it in a different context). Guess who are the same financial conglomerates investing in and profiting from both sectors of the industry? Second, the "one-size-fits-all" serves perfectly to mask the prime requirement that SW should be more freely user-programmable and user-adaptable, and serves well to keep all the trade-secrets and technological leverage within the folds of "The Company" (we all know which one that was twenty years ago, and which one it is now). The names have changed, the system stays the same. (In french: le plus ça change, le plus ça reste le mème.) Another adage from the computer industry grapevine, slightly modified from the better known version: If transportation technology had gone in the same direction as the software industry has taken us, we would all now drive with battleships and armored cruisers to work, the supermarket, and to the football stadium. What the industry has lost with the by-gone era of APL and MUMPS are the most powerful scripting languages ever invented by man. My guess, why we don't have them any more: They were too good for the masses. But there is a recipe for getting them back. It is called "the surprise unplanned re-use of software".

12.7.3. Using the Java VM for hitherto unintended purposes

The value of computer systems will not be determined by how well they can be used in the applications they were designed for, but how easily they can be fit to cases that were never thought of.
(Alan Kay, Scientific American/Spektrum, Okt. 1984)

When Alan Kay made this statement in 1984, no one exept maybe he himself could have foreseen the rise of Hypermedia computing and the WWW ten years later. In effect, the criterium he stated can be called the hallmark of successful software systems. SUN's Java development may be cited as a case in point, because it is was salvaged from the limbo of an already aborted software development effort.

12.7.4. The hidden secret of the Java VM: the TLSI

Deep down, in "the nooks of granny", in the hidden recesses of the Java VM lies a grand secret. The most powerful and the most primitive programming language ever invented. Sounds paradoxical? Only for present-day "bigger is better because of featuritis"-techno-hype. As every LISP programmer will certify, LISP is as much the oldest, and simplest, and most powerful programming language ever invented (at least for the LISP afficionado, and he has an argument there) [36].

The Java VM is a bytecode machine, one of the oldest virtual machine technologies known. And since Sun made Java an open specification, one can do a little tweaking here and there, and still keep the same Java compatibility, but use the VM for entirely different, unintended purposes.

The Java VM can be easily converted into a TLSI. This is simply the capability to build Token lists for making recursively nesting subroutine calls to any string of native code (eg. Java VM code), and treat these Token lists as infinitely extendable program code. Each Token list is associated with a name in a dictionary which makes it calleable from a user interface, similar to the UNIX command shell, and this in all is an utterly simple, utterly extendable, macro programme alphanumeric UIT.

The power of the TLSI principle derives from its utter simplicity and from the implicit data types. This is mainly the stack data buffer, which is transparent to the program nesting, and doesn't need to make any overhead for (stack framed) parameter passing. This stack buffer model can be easily generalized to any data type required, be it floating point, strings (then we have SNOBOL), arrays (then we have APL), and even complexes of that, in which case we have MUMPS, and if we want to BLOBS or any other data type required. With present day vast address spaces, it is quite easy to accomodate combined APL, MUMPS, SNOBOL and other capacities in one DP model. The power of generic data types stems from the fact that they are implicitly provided by the operators, and they are in a sense the complete inverse of the OO data type philosophy.

The TLSI outlined here adds another twist to the many cases of unexpected uses that the very versatile principle of bytecode VM technology used by Java can be applied to, of which their erstwhile creators would have been very hard put to think of, and if someone had mentioned it to them, they would have surely protested that intention most vigorously and violently.

12.7.5. The Common Interface ASCII power shell principle

One main drawback of the keyboard interface is that typically each SW vendor designs for his programs a completely ideosyncratic private command line parameter or hotkey scheme [37]. This is often enough done purely for marketing reasons so as to give no reason for confusion of the "look-and-feel" with another, competing program, but in the effect, it leads to unlmited user obfuscation and confusion. Notorious are the powerful, cryptic, and unforgiving command line switches of UNIX commands. On the upside, UNIX provided for an almost miraculously powerful and streamlined use to build higher level functionality from simple components (alas, only for experts who knew the ins-and-outs of the various shell languages). This is what I call the idea of Common Interface ASCII, a simple, extendable, interactive, user controlled, prototyping and productivity shell. Alas, this idea, and these shell languages, were never improved upon UIT-wise, and were not taken up to the potential of more modern UIT, because not much profit was to be made from them: the old-time power users would never pay for a new shell, since they knew the good old Bourne and C shell inside out, and the new users never bothered to learn them all, unless they were promoted to Sysadmin, and had to bite the iron. So there is PERL which combines much of the power of older systems but it has lost some of the flexibility, and has essentially added nothing new of the flavor. Some essentials are missing.

In order to make keyboard / command line interfaces more widely useful, a standard method would have to be implemented for custom-tailoring the user interfaces. This facility should be present in all programs co-residing under the same OS in one user-space, or for an organization employing a range of SW products in a coherent work environment that should have a unified "look-and-feel". In the present state of the industry, such a coherence can only sometimes (and definitely not always) be achieved by buying all SW from the same vendor. But it can be achieved through a standardized UI convention, that should be as commonplace as the OS interface conventions as realized in the open system UNIX implementations. Unfortunately, the pressure for UI conventions has never been as strong as that for the OS interface. This standardized interface will is called "Common Interface ASCII" (CIA). A CIA can be easily constructed with a TLSI which can be linked on top of any existing SW products. It provides for a uniform transparent method to build any kind of menus and keyboard bindings, and resides entirely outside the compiled binary code module in an own token code region, where it can be exchanged in the field, using plain text files for the bindings. To show how such a file could look like, an example is given from the Leibniz TLSI system. The syntax and the order of entries is entirely open to convention. In the present example, the order is like this:

1) $.user_input function name
2) 0 I key bindings
3) "user input string " menu entry

A sample TLSI menu configuration file

$.user_input 0 I 0 "user input string "
$.get 5 G 0 "get string with len from adr "
$.get_cnt 12 A 0 "get counted string from adr"
$.put 6 P 0 "put string to adr"
$.put_cnt 6 U 0 "put counted string to adr"
$.dup_top 0 D 0 "duplicate top string"
$.mov_2nd 0 M 0 "xchg top 2 strings"
$.copy_2nd 0 C 0 "copy 2nd string to top"
$.copy_# 0 O 0 "copy nth string to top of buffer"
$.mov_# 4 T 0 "move nth string to top of buffer"
$.mov_bot 0 B 0 "move bottom string to top"
$.push_#x 16 R 0 "move/del to nth_pos top string"
$.del_top 0 X 0 "delete top string"
$.del_#strn 9 N 0 "delete n strings"
$.len 0 L 0 "length of top string "

12.7.6. Bridging the gap between UIL and EUPL

In more general terms, the TLSI is the simplest solution for bridging the gap between UIL and EUPL [38], which is the main technical problem for making WIMPs user-progammable and -adaptable. If that has not been provided for in the initial design, it is extremely difficult in practice to retro-engineer a window menu system to be user-state-sensitive, and to extract the tokens from the menu options and convert them into program steps, to allow them to drive a script. Scripting languages are of no great use, if they don't form a common bridge between and over many applications, like we had it in the UNIX system. If they are treated as private intellectual property, capitalized, licensed, and crypted, then there is not much power left for them and for the user. The copyright lawsuits over the LOTUS and DBASE script languages have been a major retrograde development for standardization. Technically the implicit allocation of data buffers of the TLSI is a great advantage for UIL and EUPL.

12.7.7. Factor Ten, the untapped potential of Flow State

The untapped potential of fast and high-powered interactive script languages lies in an effect that has found only spurious attention in the history of computing, and was lost probably as often as it was rediscovered. Csikszentmihalyi has called it the "Flow state". There has also been extensive research on this effect during the development of the Leibniz system, but apparently there has been little of general research. So it remains one of the best-guarded secrets of the computing industry.

There exists a lot of lore about what this effect is, and how it is caused, but not much hard data. From the empirical research some determinants are known: Human short term memory enjoys a variant of the "flicker-fusion-effect". This effect makes it possible at all that we perceive the quickly exchanged still frames of a movie as a motion flow [39]. It is a time factor of about 1/20 sec. and has in other psychological research also been termed "the cogent moment". It is the minimum time span for anything experienced as discernible event, but it seems that around that time span, things don't just fuse into an indiscernible blur. What exactly happens at that frontier of human awareness, is quite unexplained. There are hypnotic effects reported, with flashing strobe lights at that frequency, etc. But all that serves more to dull the creative potential, and not to increase it. Contrarily, the flow effect indicates something entirely different.

We all know that short term memory holds "seven chunks plus or minus two". This is not much. But if we apply the Flow effect, we can experience an impressive expanding of short term memory, to be almost panoramic. This way, we could enjoy panoramic overview over complex relationships even on the old 80x25 character screens when we let them succeed each other fast enough. And on top of it, as Csikszentmihalyi had found out, it strangely makes people feel happy, puts them in a state of exuberance, and of lucid trance. Unfortunately, such an observation is very difficult to verify by stringent academic standards of peer reviewed scientific papers.

For whatever reasons, the computer industry has gone all the way into the other direction, with powerful graphics that could give us also a panoramic overview, but as everyone in the industry knows, windows and icons will always clutter the screen and lead to more confusion, not more overview. Perhaps the industry forgot some essential lessons. And this is what I mean. The industry went the wrong way, wholesale, and because it was more profitable to build and sell more powerful machinery, instead of doing some hard thinking and heeding the advice of some old hands.

12.8. The history of the LPL project and some personal views from fifteen years of experience with a self-contained standalone NR UIT

More literature: Goppold (www)

If we have been around the APL or the MUMPS community (some old-timers have) we could always hear those wondrous stories of one lone expert programmer writing a whole computing solution for a tricky DP problem in one day [40]. I will give a different example from my own practice and experience. Between the years 1985 and about 1995, I programmed what was probably (one of) the largest self-contained standalone SW system ever produced, the Leibniz system. And I didn't produce it as main job, but besides my industrial consulting work, spare time. Originally intended for standalone hardware, embedded systems, and real-time industrial machinery control (the most general interpretation of multi-media), it contains its own operating system functions, a software prototyping and testing shell, a fully self-contained windowing system, a hypertext-integrated full-screen ASCII editor, and a hypertext database system [41]. In the last version of 1995, the Leibniz system contained about 10,000 functions in 100,000 lines code with 6 megabytes source, and 500 source and configuration files. The system contained as a necessity an embedded information management and retrieval system, which, by the sheer size of it, is essential. Such a huge function library is impossible to memorize (especially concerning the interface conventions), and printed paper documentation is much too cumbersome besides being hopelessly behind the current version status. 100,000 lines program listing would occupy a hefty 2,000 pages of A4 paper. Listing only the function names fills a book of 200 pages. A library of this size explodes even large OO projects. Therefore the optimal structuring and maximal speed of the retrieval environment is crucial. The available tools of the system allow access any of the 10.000 functions even in multi-level hypertext access in a matter of maximally 5 to 10 seconds. A special interface shell allows to call the very efficient GREP tool from within the editor with one keystroke, searching the 6 MB source in about 10 to 30 seconds, and delivering its output in a table that is routed to the editor. The output can then be fed into the hypertext system.

I can say from my experience that a system this big would have never been able to construct given the very limited resources available, with conventional compiler based SW and UI technology, and, by no means, with a mouse driven WIMP interface.

12.9. References


Amiet , P.: Les elamites inventaient l'ecriture, Archeologia 12, p. 16-23, (1966)

Anthro: (URL) (URL) (URL)

Bednarik , R.G.: On the scientific study of paleoart, in: Semiotica , p. 141-168 (1994)

Bernard , J.: The hand and the mind, Parabola, New York, p. 14-17, Aug. (1985)

Birdwhistell , R: Kinesics and context, Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia (1970)

Brooks, F. P.: The Mythical Man-Month, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass (1975)

Bücher , K.: Arbeit und Rhythmus, Reinicke, Leipzig (1924)

Businessweek. (URL)

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[34] CD version: file:///d|/0htm/99-09/hydr-civ.htm (URL)
[35] Ishii (1999a, 1999b), Veltman (1997), (1998), (URL)
[36] The downside of LISP is expressed in this adage: The LISP programmer knows the value of everything and the cost of nothing.
[37] Only Apple had succeeded in creating a modicum of UI standardization in their system.
[38] De Souza 1993, 1996, Dertouzos 1992
[39] This is perhaps also why Csikszentmihalyi called it so.
[40] Of course, the downside often was, that no-one else understood what had been programmed here. But that is another matter, the expert could have documented his optimized, compressed code, with some plain text. When we look at contemporary OO code, we get the impression, that the documentation is the program. That may be fine, but has also some hidden costs, of which the whole argument in this article is all about.
[41] In 1985, when the hypertext system was build, it was probably the first hypertext-integrated SW development system, with a programming language designed to fit into the hypertext principle. The TLSI and hypertext are complementary principles.

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