06 October 2006

Dynamic radial ontologies on the Tree of Life

by 'ontology' we mean
any network of linked nodes
each node representing a concept
and the links representing
relationships between concepts

we're primarily interested in
universal ontologies
where every possible concept
has at least one node

very few truly universal ontologies
have been attempted
and these are all therefore
arbitrary and idiosyncratic

ontologies are conventionally
visualised as trees
nodes having multiple children
and usually multiple parents as well

(Roget's Thesaurus and its ilk
mostly limit parents to one)

but trees have sides/edges
and middles
and visualising
coloring any set of nodes
(eg, all the concepts
pondered by Fred on Friday)
requires unnecessarily/meaninglessly
distributing these visualised colors
nearer or farther
from edges or middle

so we'll replace the conventional trees
with radial ontologies
branches spreading outward
360 degrees from a center
and colored sets of nodes
consequently become
uniformly random

even the most ambitious
universal ontologiy
is necessarily skewed
toward a more-or-less narrow
of time and space

but we can turn these limits
into a virtue
by elongating the circle
into a vertical cylinder
time advancing upwards

and even embed the cylinder
along a human's wandering branch
on the Tree of Life

now a colorised set of nodes
can belong to an individual
at a definite place and time

and their lifechanges
(eg what Frida is pondering
at every moment)
becomes a flickering of colored threads