Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Arts and Crafts

Mr. Lanahan bought me breakfast this morning at Mt. Tabor Cafe. We talked about his book.

Later I joined Mr. Stockton in his studio on the Pauling Campus to continue building my instructors kit. The assembly process takes time.

I picture diplomats sitting around, doing something crafty together, shooting the breeze, talking of worldly matters. The Paulings' commitment to peace, science and health sets the tone.

One of the benefits of this workshop: the other people here. Here is an opportunity to compare notes, form bonds in a rarefied setting.

Mr. Blake had not visited this studio before, nor seen this particular version of flextegrity. He shared some lore regarding the technocracy movement, having recently had coffee with a local representative. Trevor is a student of social movements and ideologies.

Glenn and Trevor also talked about moss, a native species. Both have been using it in urban gardens.

A rack of gold icosahedra sit like cookies, baking in the sun on the porch. The bright red Alpha Helix, a sculpture not far away, provides contrast. Tourists stop and ask questions.

My uncle Bill Lightfoot
stopped by. He enjoyed checking out the flextegrity pyramid over dinner with Glenn and I at The Bagdad. He shared about dog sledding in Wyoming recently. Bill is 85.

Back in the library, we talked at some length about Kenneth Snelson, the artist and a friend.

Although best known for his awesome tensegrity sculptures, Kenneth has created some truly amazing computer graphics and 360 degree panoramic photographs.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Workshop Scenarios

Glenn unveiled a Flextegrity kit of 100 pieces at Wanderers the other day. I missed the event, heard favorable reports. The kit provides a step-by-step sequence from one icosahedral hub to a four-frequency tetrahedron of 35 icosahedra. The resulting construction is sturdy and all weather. The hubs are fixed in place with customized stretched springs, do not touch one another.

One might call this "floating compression" however the springs also serve a compressive function under load, meaning we do not file this applied material under the "tensegrity" heading.

Students may wish to compare and contrast, as tensegrity is an important concept in contemporary art and engineering. The title by R. Motro is a part of the Flextegrity company library.

Sam has been running some numbers, on what it might cost to keep more of version 3 coming through the pipeline. B2C sales of kits to end users, perhaps bundled with a workshop might emerge as a co-venture.

For the time being, supply is limited and the kits are for workshop instructors.

Glenn's forte is what I call Neolithic Math, which involves working with tools, including hand-made ones. His brand of math provides a strong hands-on component consistent with learning various skills and crafts. His workshop includes such raw materials as antler, shell, many kinds of stone.

Flextegrity adds a more futuristic component (Martian Math), plus is a one of a kind, giving us a niche. My time slot, in the Linus Pauling house board room, or in a computer lab, has tended to feature commercially available supplies, along with free and open source software.

I am looking forward to adding more flextegrity to the mix, as I move about Portland. You might find Glenn and I at some coffee shop near PSU, assembling icosahedra and passing out our Radical Math (rad math) literature pointing back to these workshop opportunities.

I also have a tensegrity sculpture, Barrel Tower, a gift from Kenneth Snelson himself. I consider it too valuable to lug it around as an educational supply however.

Schools sending their teachers our way have an interest in joining a more world class network wherein tetrahedral accounting and 60-degree coordination (e.g. graphene) inform the geometry curriculum at all levels.

Schools which include more of this heritage (including Fuller Projections in some contexts) have a more cosmopolitan aura. Portland's international business community tends to encourage schools to move in this direction.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Geometery + Geography

Here's how I'm thinking: the emergence of high definition screens (HDTVs, LCDs etc.) will drive a resurgence of spatial geometry. One could say it already has, given the NFL is simply polyhedra on steroids (each player like a Sim, in the sense of an object with attributes and methods).

With this Renaissance in the foreground, we'll have the option (so far not much availed of), to streamline and simplify the teaching of said spatial geometry. This will occur in tandem with a more explicit embrace of high technology (HDTVs, LCDs etc.), in place of the current Calculator Limbo, the dominant paradigm in many a school.

Those schools embracing the NCLB Polynomial and NCLB Polyhedron (both literary devices, students of American Literature take note) will have more of a world class flavor and will prove more attractive to an international cast.

Diplomacy will get a boost from these developments, as the USA recovers from its withered years, as a mere puppet of Eisenhower's aptly named "military industrial complex" (a psychological complex characterized by some infantile belief in "superpowers").

As science fiction, this forecast makes some sense.

I'm not talking about a done deal of course, as the slumdog millionaires fight change at every turn, grasping at whatever straws.

Nostalgia for the 1900s and its Flatlander belief systems is still running high in some segments. Some believe in the end of history. Others believe in no tomorrow.

The Geometry-Geography nexus is where to focus. Geography at the medio-level is one's local ecosystem, neighborhood, bioregion.

Going in, it's your body and the chemistries it depends on, the quantum mechanics it obeys.

Going out, it's the solar system, a fusion furnace with client planets, outward and onward to the stars, the galaxy, other galaxies.

Geography is all that has energetic significance.

Geometry, on the other hand, may be size-and-time independent, what we in the Synergetics namespace call "prefrequency" or energy-free.

Here is our familiar Platonic Realm, where our philosophical faculties like to anchor themselves, as observers of the eternal verities.

U = MP in other words, i.e. to communicate this curriculum, one needs both vocabularies, the geometric and the geographic.

Geography is about the playing field shared by we world game players.

Geometry is about the generalized principles that connect all the special case dots.

These broad brush stroke heuristics may come across as too esoteric to have pragmatic consequences.

What's true though is that geography and geometry have always developed hand in hand, so lets remember that "radical" and "root" have much the same conservative and/or anchoring meaning.

When it comes to providing civilizations with secure origins, serving up a mix of geometry and geography has generally been the most successful approach.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Connecting Dots

I'm developing more curriculum around 2 * P * F**2 + 2, which R. B. Fuller sees relating two kinds of twoness: concave / convex multiplicative two (x 2) and spinnable additive two (+ 2). The letter F stands for frequency, whereas P is some prime number or product of low order primes.

Quoting from Synergetics (a philosophy):
1073.11 Since unity is plural and, at minimum, two, the additive twoness of systemic independence of the individual system's spinnability's two axial poles, the latter's additive twoness must be added to something, which thinkable somethingness is the inherent systemic multiplicative twoness of all systems' congruent concave-convex inside-outness: this additive-two-plus-multiplicative-two fourness inherently produces the interrelationship 2 + 2 + 2 sixness (threefold twoness) of all minimum structural-system comprehendibility.

1073.12 All systems are conceptually differentiated out of Universe.
System + environment = Universe
Universe - system = environment

1073.13 The environment is dual, consisting of the macro and micro (outsideness and insideness). Ergo, a fourth twoness of all prime structural systems is synergetically accountable as
2 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 8.
On math-teach, I came up with a kind of game, developed in part to generate appreciation for the different meanings of these operators (+ and * i.e. addition and multiplication). There's the abstract algebra topic of groups, rings and fields, which is customarily not broached until college, except in a cursory manner that goes by pretty fast.

However, as we import more segments to our alternative track, newly lightened by not having as much heavy calculus, we'll find the time for more of this material, which is actually somewhat fun and intuitive for many a demographic (depends on how taught, I favor some cartoons, animations, even claymations). The idea of an entire track sounds ambitious at this point, as we're still looking for single course pilots to pop up around the state, on reservations or wherever.

On Synergeo, I'm linking to Fuller's omni-directional halo concept, which is perhaps most brilliantly defined in No More Secondhand God. The topic is Descartes' Angular Deficit, the difference between 360 around each vertex, and a chordal polyhedron connecting the same dots. One tetrahedron's worth of angle needs to be taken away. Then, once you get such a system, most simply a tetrahedron, you have the ability to expand it through the jitterbug phases. At the icosahedral and cuboctahedral phases, the number sequence 1, 12, 42, 92, 162... kicks in, as generated by the above 2 * P * F**2 + 2, with P = 5. Per Donald Coxeter, this exquisite result was worth memorializing. He wrote a professional paper about it, in his inimitable style.

The above shape-governing formula might be likened to some seed molecule placed in a dendrimer, anchoring its growth. However the more formal visualization of said formula involves sphere packing, and that's something we'd like to talk about more, not because they form a practical applied material, but because the mathematics opens doors. You might want to move to hyper-dimensional sphere packing, which has practical applications in optimizing communications channels, while keeping conversations separate.

This is rich cooking, lots of spice. The flavor is still esoteric for 2010 as no one is much interested in 2 * P * F**2 + 2, especially as written, in some non-standard Pythonic notation (** is the exponentiation operator).

Speaking of Python, I was on edu-sig today chatting with Bill and company about a fine page of exercises, drawn from many walks of life. These are like "cave paintings" in their relative simplicity, yet project some useful ideas. I jumped in on the Caesar Code exercise in particular, partly just to reiterate some earlier work, exercise my skills with a dictionary. Bill wanted uppercase letters and punctuation to make it through unsubstituted, and my version achieves that.

Last night Dave Koski went over some of his more recent discoveries. I find them interesting and relevant. We've both been cogitating on a lot of the same themes. phi/radical(2) has come up again, in connection with a scaled-up S-module (one might say). More later on this.

My editorial on the NYT op-ed piece is not supposed to sound too alarmist, yet I am looking for ways to register some serious concerns. Bill Gates and I might be on the same side this time, in thinking more radical reforms are needed. The trick is to not have teachers get completely defensive in reaction, as if any wish to institute change were an implied criticism of the work of dedicated professionals. On the contrary, I expect these professionals themselves to agree: that change is truly necessary. This is a partnership opportunity, not an attempt to vilify an entire profession.

Finally, my posting to edu-sig revisits the feud in computer science, twixt a lambda calculus wing and other factions. I'm worried that discrete math is the can we keep kicking down the road, when instead we need to be developing a new track that looks a lot more like Bill's. The high school aged would ride these rails, but so could adults, including their teachers. Other curriculum writers, such as Edward Cherlin, go further back into childhood. We're somewhat spread out along this railroad and its many switching yards.

I anticipate lots of new positions will open up if we invest in this future. But will needed engineering occur if the focus is on some soap opera between contentious camps? Perhaps this is not an either / or proposition?

The same questions might be asked around just about any low level conflict I suppose. Sometimes competition helps whereas other times it drives away skittish investors, not sure what to think, but disliking the sense of acrimony?

"If the people are feuding, will they forget to grow food and stockpile for the future?" That might be the more civilizational question. The Native American lore in this region chronicles times when people tried to take short cuts and paid a high price. We'd rather learn from our mistakes than repeat them. Perhaps more philosophers will get involved? More Chiefs? Chieftesses?

On the home front, Quinn stopped by with Nick, also Gideon, also Rose.

CUE in Bhutan

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Retreat (continued)

I joined the group late, missing the breakfast. Discussions of energy policies continued.

David's take, and he's in a position to know, is that energy companies these days are mostly trying to avoid the capital expense of actually building new generating plants, of any description. They're riding an increasingly decrepit energy grid into the ground, doing their best to prolong its viability by paying major customers, the industrial users, to lower their loads by increasing efficiency wherever possible.

Household consumers take a back seat. Our Sims-like grid management games would have ways to model this strategy. Students need access to such games through their school systems.

Long ago, as a part of the Portland district's talented and gifted program, an experiment was tried wherein kids were exempted from regular classes and bussed to a facility on Marine Drive, where private sector professionals might interact with these students, on the theory that some of their real world experience would rub off. This was maybe like once a week from the kids' point of view? I'm hazy on details.

A weakness of this program was the district administration was pretty strict with the curriculum, telling these not-full-time teachers what activities to provide, mostly computer games. Oregon Trail and Sim City, early versions of both (low resolution screens, not much RAM) were the among the most popular choices.

The games we're brainstorming (storyboarding, looking for realism from energy companies) are in this genre. Whether its grid management (macro-economic) or household management (micro-economic), we're wanting to find segments of the population willing to partner in considering these challenges.

Although my focus is the pre-college classroom in much of my curriculum writing, I'm as interested in giving adult populations access to these simulations, along with more access to realistic global data.

Steve (crystallographer, gemologist) came by and brought up Julian's work regarding double-slit experiments with buckyballs, showing they exhibit quantum effects, as do even larger particles, per a story on NPR yesterday (per Steve). I have Julian's paper in my gmail stash.

Glenn wiped some graffiti off Alpha Helix just this morning, one of Julian's early sculptures, a tribute to one of Linus Pauling's discoveries. People routinely stop to have their picture taken next to it, read the placard.

On a break for a walk around the block, I met up with Elizabeth and David Braithwaite, heading towards a book store. I'd just read Laurie's kind email, remembering Dawn.

Mom and I spoke twice by cell. She wanted to be sure her part time residency was reflected on our census form, still due to go back.

On another break, I checked back with the household. LW was immersed in Native American lore, a Laughing Horse video recording of an elder giving the history of groups in this region, such as the Multnomah.

These groups suffered the consequences of short sightedness and greed sometimes, do not portray themselves as saints, do not over-romanticize. Their Creator would take away core competencies sometimes, until the people repented and buried whatever hatchets.

TU is doing some spring cleaning today. NC, another guest, joined us at Pauling House today, but was not in evidence.

Rad Math Props

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wanderers Spring Retreat

Don Wardwell is singing Angel from Montgomery to our party, accompanied on guitar by Jon Bunce, a professional musician. Lynne Taylor introduced her upcoming talk on eco-tourism.

Nick and I joined somewhat late, though in plenty of time to partake of salads.

Lindsey is playing at Laughing Horse tonight, was at E-room last night, Laughing Horse again the night before, at Roots Brewery tomorrow (a fundraiser to supply more books to prisoners).

I was challenged to do a lot of big picture thinking today. I've been reflecting on my most recent meeting with Patrick of Portland Energy Strategies. He's seeing the same thing a lot of us are seeing: a way to make the "smart grid" a reality, that depends on the active and conscious participation of many of those served.

Smart grids are related to smart meters, also appliances that report on their own energy use, smart houses, intelligent systems for load balancing. I'm not an expert.

These ideas have been the stuff of science fiction for decades. By around 2000, a lot of writers (analysts, forecasters) anticipated we would have these technologies. But would people learn how to use them?

So far, a lot of smart meters have been deployed, but the smart grid has yet to materialize, perhaps correlating with public unawareness of the global grid in general (a grid which includes communications transmissions, not just power transmission).

Imagine your rate changing by the hour. Run your clothes dryer in the middle of the night, and take advantage of a lower cost per kilowatt-hour. What if you had grown up playing simulation games wherein you'd trained a family of Sims to so optimize? Patrick's games would have both macro- and micro-economic dimensions.

An open question, in my own mind anyway, is to what extent energy companies, public utilities, want to get back into public education. Do they worry about consumer backlash, accusations that they're playing big brother? If there's a commitment to sharing some substantive data, giving consumers more of an over-the-shoulder look, then the sought-for partnership relationship might materialize? What's the interface with public schools? Where does local government enter the picture?

Obviously I'm neither the first nor only person to be asking these questions. Patrick has been in the energy business for much of his career, has been pondering such matters and with a lot of grist for his mill. His proposals are more definite and refined than I'm getting across here.

Trevor came by with a new template for the Grunch web site, so named for Fuller's whimsical, satirical, subversive, radical Grunch of Giants (St. Martin's Press, 1983).

The site looks more like a Wiki now, which is apropos, given my work in Wikieducator on Digital Mathematics (mostly heuristics, like Dr. Tomalia is into -- though different ones).

Earlier: our meeting about supporting educators on the front lines. Getting a better handle on this 60-degree coordination business is a top priority for all of us. What's the best strategy? We're talking about art schools, schools of design, liberal arts colleges... war colleges?

I worried later about too many gray icosahedra cluttering the ecosystem, some Dr. Seuss like fantasy based on a possible classroom workflow. Glenn assured me that PVC is easily reground and recycled.

There's no danger of an over-abundance at the moment, as the supply is quite limited, with artist-engineers resorting to recycling what few icosahedra are already in circulation. The assembly process itself makes lights go on, according to those lucky few getting to participate in the process.

If students are learning something, are developing a stronger grasp of geometric principles for academic credit, yet are also producing some in-demand good as a result, then do we worry about child labor laws, exploitation?

When touring China in the early 1970s, I saw elementary school kids doing what looked to be circuit board assembly. Were those usable circuits? I don't actually remember.

I'm also contemplating David Koski's work. He seems to be mining a rich vein in polyhedral geometry, sending a lot of gold my way. How much slips through the cracks, because I'm only an average interpreter? I turned two recent emails into a web page, with a follow-up to Synergeo.

There's always the hope that we'll get some more help. Animators could be having a field day, is my sense of it, but are missing the boat as we're not investing in work / study sufficiently. Findings need to be disseminated, not shelved, but then where's the audience for esoteric geometry, especially where tetrahedral mensuration is concerned (relates to 60-degree coordination). Universities? Mostly not yet.

Tara is with her sister this evening, plans to come home rather late on public transportation, fairly safe and convenient in Greater Portland. To tourists, other visitors, I recommend taking the Max to the Oregon Zoo.

Rendering by Me

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wanderers 2010.3.16

This is a meeting regarding the Parliament of World Religions, take two in some ways (I missed the first take). We're here to learn about the most recent convergence, which took place in Melbourne (Australia) recently.

I plan to tell a couple stories about my experiences at said parliament in 1999, in Cape Town, when we go around the table. I attended with my late wife Dawn, my daughters, my parents.

We were a Quaker family, with mom & dad based in Maseru, Lesotho. Dawn flew solo to Durban for a workshop with the Dalai Lama.

We stayed with Nosizwe Madlala-Routledge
and family while in Cape Town. She was Deputy Minister of Defense for the RSA at the time, and a Quaker -- not necessarily an inconsistent role.

Later, we got to meet with Tenzin Gyatso, DL XIV in a Cape Town government building (a parliament building). I use a familiar name because, as Quakers, we're sometimes avoiding of titles. Noziswe asked us how she should introduce this great man and we suggested including his familiar name as a part of the introduction.

He looked slightly askance when he heard her intro, but took it in stride. Weird stuff happens when you're the DL, goes with the job description. In the meeting, he expressed the fond hope, based on analysis, that future wars would become increasingly regional, not turn global so easily.

In his keynote to the assembled Parliament of World Religions, his message was to "be skeptical", not just buy in to whatever beliefs. Some might consider that ironical, given the source, but Tantric Buddhism is actually quite experiential, experimental and empirical, so I wasn't that surprised.

The first Parliament, in 1893, was a huge breakthrough by many measures. This was the first time that leaders in certain faith groups had shared a podium and spoken to the same audience. Approximately 10% of the presenters were women, which for that time was a benchmark.

It took almost 95 years for a next Parliament to reconvene. Swami Vivakananda made a big difference in this regard. Parliament basically means "a safe place to come to talk about important things" i.e. this isn't a legislative body. The space is open to the participation of people from all walks of life, provided they're not there to convert and/or prostelytize -- except in your own booth. The next Parliament took place in 1993, again in Chicago.

Helen, our presenter, has been on the board of the Parliament since 1990.

The Parliament in Cape Town had a lot to do with the contributions of the various religions in ending apartheid. We had something real to celebrate. South Africa has been an example to us all. I'm reminded now of Bishop Desmond Tutu's appearance at the University of Portland and his clearly expressed affinity for the Dalai Lama.

The Parliament in Barcelona in 2004 had a lot to do with terrorism, the events of 911, of March 11 in Madrid. Ending religiously motivated violence, the debt of most impoverished nations (such as Haiti, the USA), assuring access to sanitary water supplies, were among the chief concerns.

Australia's changes in immigration policy, with more commitment to diversity, were something to celebrate in 2010. I asked about the Doctrine of Discovery, whether that came up (I know it did). Like Glenn Stockton, I'm focused on the representation of indigenous peoples at the Parliament. Aboriginal peoples, who have been treated genocidaly, were a focus of this 2010 event.

The Doctrine of Christian Discovery (manifest destiny) has been cited by the US Supreme Court as recently as 1995 (some case from upstate New York). The slave trade depended on this kind of thinking as well. Australia has had the common decency to forswear appealing to such lame and obsolete principles in future. The decrepit USA, backward and impoverished, has been unable to keep pace.

The Parliament is not about converging all the religions into one, nor about judging what is and what is not a religion. Consensus is not a goal. Finding common ground, looking for ways to work together, is a goal.

Our presenters were Helen Spector, Don Benson, Milt Markewitz and Lynne Taylor, all of whom attended the Parliament in Melbourne. Some of the pictures were spectacular.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Serene Scene

Dr. Tag stopped by today, and prepared a fava bean lunch in our kitchen. I'd been taken to lunch earlier by the Boltons, so just stayed with black coffee.

Lindsey, working on gardening, came inside to join us. We sat around the living room table, sharing food, yakking about this and that. We talked about the Middle East and those domain names it hosts (Jordan, Lebanon etc.).

Tagrid was with her Yemeni friend earlier, knows quite a few people in Yemen, a great place at least in the old days. She's likely to travel in the Middle East again soon, though not in Yemen. I've added her resume (as distinct from her c.v.) to my 4D directory.

The Boltons and I talked about Powell's Books, its roots in Chicago (where Chuck and Mary first met my dad, independently of one another). They also wanted to talk about domain names (Israel, USA etc.). Chuck is a sociology professor emeritus with Portland State, which he came to from UC Davis, having trained at University of Chicago after WW2.

After lunch with the Boltons, I stopped by to visit Glenn's workshop on the Pauling Campus. He let me hold, and take pictures of: elk antler, pipe stone, manzanita root, abalone, walrus teeth, and a few other assorted raw materials he uses to make things. Glenn knows a lot about craftsmanship, teaches the subject. He's well versed in some of the Native American lore, like where much of the pipe stone came from (Minnesota).

After lunch, I helped Tag with some domain name issues, and burned a copy of her nephew's music CD. She's still working in my living room as I blog this, doing some banking. Later this evening, she'll teach her Arabic class at PCC.

Lindsey is back to gardening in the side yard, digging a new bed.

Tara, home from school, had the split peas and rice Lindsey cooked yesterday and is up in her room. We've turned the heat on for the evening hours, are mostly keeping the house chilly, trying to conserve peak oil.

The radical math ideas I espouse trickle out by osmosis during some of these conversations, but really I'm too into esoterica to make much political sense, don't sound like a pundit.

The other radical math teachers I'm working with tend to be pretty spacey as well, a breed of circus geek maybe? I've been developing some of the mythos on Synergeo.

Speaking of radical math, our Saturday venue is quitting the scene so don't expect to find it on your next Portland tour. Muddy Waters, around the corner is also gone, has been replaced with Bare Bones.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

More Negotiations


I've had lots of contract boilerplate to eyeball lately, nothing signed yet, on advice of attorney. The applied mathematics were intriguing, though not what I'd be tasked with specifically.

Regarding Iran, the initiative to criminalize nuclear weapons around the world is of course a principled religious position that many take in all faiths. I'm pleased if that's an official position within the Islamic orthodoxy. Whether this means the IAEA has complete access to US, Chinese and Russian facilities remains a point of controversy I suppose, although not for me.

This thing about calling the whole earth Israel and using a Fuller Projection to talk about the "no state solution" sounds kind of radical, even for the Laughing Horse crowd, but of course many rabbis already take the position that Israel, like Nirvana (or Samsara for that matter), relates to something more existentially primordial than some nation-state, even so in ancient times. That's esoterica however, in that most people only think in literal terms, about Persia etc.

When you virtualize, you make the whole earth the game field for any responsible planning, meaning one is taking more consequences into account. There's no contradiction in having cyber-nations or virtual nations assume responsibility for the whole earth, given "responsibility" doesn't mean dictating or behaving in some tyrannical fashion. The geek world's meme of "world domination" is related, and may be translated as "self mastery". So-called "desovereignization" may result in more responsible governance simply because the thinking is more realistic, less side-tracked by yesteryear's legal fictions.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Back at Laughing Horse

A lot goes on around here I don't know about, duh.

Just tonight I learned that one reason Lindsey was able to join the Laughing Horse Collective, was that some holocaust deniers had managed to jump on board and stage an event here, then departed, creating vacancies. There have been some lasting repercussions.

This news seemed kind of freakish, as the collection is packed with holocaust videos, many of which have come through HQS for review. I bought a copy of Hilter's Willing Executioners here (to the best of my recollection), mom a book on Hitler youth.

I'm doing door again tonight, a no-alcohol event. This benefit is for Laughing Horse itself. Julia is here too, advising potential customers. She also paid back some of her IOU ($15), made a note in the book.

Regarding the Fuller syllabus, I've had our state-free world projection on display here (briefly, like at Circadia), but won't claim the political left has made him an avatar, any more than the political right has (Laughing Horse leans left, in case you were wondering, calls itself radical).

Around Portland, Fuller (a subversive and a radical) has gotten more attention through OSCONs (not only through me), Esozone (through Trevor especially), and of course through Portland Center Stage.

I would certainly like OMSI to get in on the action, perhaps with some tetrahedral mensuration sculpture and/or some cool dwelling machine exhibits. Something both futuristic and humanitarian, consistent with our Portland spirit (which Portlandia personifies (she's a radical too)).

Getting more synergetics-informed geometry on that Omnimax screen would remind us to keep thinking outside the box. Some of us have been dying to see something along those lines.

Lindsey's friend is helping with the door, so I'm able to focus on the Wittgenstein thread I was following earlier today. Wittgenstein was a contemporary of Hitler's; not saying I believe they were acquainted, although some say they were.

Mike D. of Duke's Landing
is here next to me (he's a member of the Collective). He's been upgrading the company XO, got us a developer key.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

For Credit Curriculum Games

Geocaching was invented by Dave Ulmer, early bizmo engineer and pioneer. His on-board GIS systems led him to many a frontier find.

However, in thinking of physically strenuous mathematical exercises, a genre, we need to accommodate lots of urban teens, may not simply assume easy access to rural areas with the wave of a magic wand.

Introducing bus and subway maps from around the world as topologically correct, yet highly simplified (schematic) is a standard data visualization segment. The next step, of actually riding the bus and train systems, in search of some treasure, is where this becomes a sport.

Student-friendly urban establishments such as coffee shops, subsidized to operate this program, might provide welcoming environments.

The video game aspects of the course would have this familiar indoor ambiance (already associated with scholarship), as students swiped their ID cards for points, went through the cartography and geography quizzes, touched base with on-line referees and/or judges, perhaps sitting in booths with branded swag (sponsor regalia).

Then its on to the next puzzle (some algebra required?).

This would be another meaning of "busing" (or "training"), as you would get small groups going between zip codes, creating more shared awareness of a city. This isn't a race or game of Survivor in which there's only one prize or winning team, although perks for being faster or first might pertain, depending on the game's design.

The point is to actually explore one's environment and not settle for a "virtual world" on one's desktop. The incentives need to be far more reliable and real than winning the lottery. You might not get cash, but you might get a 25 pound bag of organic brown rice, as one of your computerized options.

The reward system will focus a lot of human ingenuity, with participating schools getting much of the credit at an institutional level. If your school fields some teams, that may be your school's ticket to some interesting benefits. Your school will get noticed, its reputation boosted.

The more interesting versions of these games feature convergence points deliberately designed for group learning activities. Having coffee shops participate is a piece of the puzzle but not the whole story.

Many high schools already have some of the right stuff, so it might be a matter of organizing across schools, optimizing more.

On the other hand, here's an opportunity to do some basic rethinking and updating. A claymation studio need not be in the same building as a music recording studio, but better synergy might develop if they were. Include faculty from art and/or design schools among your advisers, would be my advice.

Designing these for-credit games is one thing, recruiting players another. The advertising needs to set realistic expectations. Some of the exercises shown will require mastery of prerequisite skills, meaning you might not get access to all that gear up front. That's what the reward system is about: equipping those ready for a specific work/study challenge (a role) with the requisite props (as in theater). The scuba diver needs scuba equipment and so on.

Doing some metal work for high school geometry credit is not as off topic as it sounds, if you imagine building a rhombic triacontahedron from scratch, or a geodesic sphere. But where might you go to acquire these skills in a safe environment? These are the kinds of questions our game designers need to be asking themselves and their communities. The answers will vary depending on town-gown dynamics, other factors.

Related reading: "Off Your Duff" Mathematics (math-teach, Math Forum, March 3, 2010)

Monday, March 01, 2010

Journal Jot

Math teachers in North America would appear to have first dibs on this heritage, but seem to have shrugged it off (can't be bothered).

Is this another chapter where the wisdom of the ages is kept in hibernation through another dark age, by Arabic speaking cultures?

I met with a teacher of that language this evening at The Bagdad, sent a link, just in case.

Lindsey is downtown attending a study group on legalized zombiehood (corporate personhood). There's a reason they called it Voodoo Economics.