International Guild of Knot Tyers Forum

General => Chit Chat => Topic started by: DerekSmith on December 10, 2006, 11:55:52 AM

Title: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: DerekSmith on December 10, 2006, 11:55:52 AM
If there is one place in our world today that I would go to be able to find an answer to a knot (tying, use) related question, then I would expect that place to be here - the Forum of the IGKT.  I would like to think that the majority of the worlds experts in the field of knotting either meet here or are known by those who do meet here.  Such is the world of knotting that those skilled and expert in the various fields are willing to share their skills and knowledge with us who are comparative beginners to the sport.

The medium for that interchange is the written word, occasionally (where available) enhanced by diagrams or photographs, but the fundamental means is the written word.  Therin lays my dilemma, despite the richness of knotting terminology we do not have a succinct unambiguous means of communicating our manipulations by words.

Take, by way of example, Dan's patient attempts to explain to me his variations to the Strangle Loop knot.  ---


I haven't understood your description of the TIB variant (would you give it a second, more detailed explanation please).
Sure.  It's pretty easily seen via the upper of your two just-posted images, so I'll reference
that.  Have the (red) end cross Over/behind itself (opp. to shown, i.e.), and then be tucked
down between the two SParts of the Strangle component.  (So, to TIBight, one would make
the Strangle up to that point, then lay the free end into that position, and continue with the
bight to make a final turn & tuck out to both form/close the Strangle and produce the eye.)

Now, it takes a bit of care in dressing this structure:  one wants the twin eye legs to
oppose the loopknot's SPart vis-a-vis the tucked end, and it helps that the eye legs have
this orientation (planar) all the way out (or even curving a little), as the strong draw of the
SPart is going to un-twist/-curve them (i.e. pull the end's leg) a quarter-half turn or so,
depending on the dressing/set & loading.  It's a less compact & slack-secure knot if
the eye legs AND SPart are more nearly co-planar and the end thus more tucked between
SPart & nearer leg, if you get the idea.  AS YOU HAVE IT in the image, by my terms, your
end-leg (reddened) is WELL set against the SPart's draw; I think that this positioning might
be harder to assume/set with the finish/tuck I describe, hence I alert one to strive for it.
--dl*
====

and

Derek:  Where do you get lost?  It can't be that hard to follow words!
Your finish takes the end under itself in a Half-hitch; my revision takes it over
itself ("over"~="outside, away from core") then back under, BUT in this case
I say to include the parallel strand of the knot (the twin of the two eye legs)
in what is cross over/outside, and to then tuck under both, or "between"
those twin parts and the SPart.

NB:  Tried this knot in a supple smooth slick multi-fil PES or PP (or mixture?)
and the knot got too tight for favor!  So my earlier assessments of ease of
untying likely fall to Roo's chary eye re jamming at greater loads (don't have
my 5-to-1 pulley set up at the moment).  --retreat!  (to a different and double
tucking, hopefully)

--dl*
====

Now, to my shame, I have to admit that even on the third attempt I was no nearer being able to 'picture' or recreate Dan's enhancement, but even worse, I had no fall back method to get me over this problem of failed understanding.

Dan states - "It can't be that hard to follow words!", but that is a bit like the catch phrase on the quiz show 'Millionaire' - "If you know the answer, the questions are easy", in this case, if you know the structure the writer is describing, the meaning of the description is obvious - but if you do not know that structure, then the words can appear meaningless.

To the writer, who sees the structure in their minds eye, the words "I say to include the parallel strand of the knot (the twin of the two eye legs) in what is cross over/outside, and to then tuck under both, or "between" those twin parts and the SPart." are clearly descriptive, but to the reader who does not have that mental image, the words can be meaningless.

Although I do not have Dan's level of skill, expertise and experience, I do not count myself as an abject beginner, so if 'I' do not comprehend a communication, likelyhood is that others might fail to comprehend it as well and simply give up, loosing out on the knowledge contained in those communications.

The fundamental problem seems to stem from the fact that we have not developed a notational shorthand to describe not only the structure of a knot, but perhaps more importantly, how to move the cord in order to tie a knot.  Instead of an unambiguous shorthand, we have to rely on a Knotting Lexicon born of a thousand years of cordage use by as many trades and specialist fields.

Today the internet is offering a means of bringing all those disparate terminologies together and perhaps through the mantle of the IGKT it is time to consider the creation of that one basic unambiguous shorthand for describing the structure of a knot.

What are the basic components of a language that once I have learnt it, then armed with nothing more than a pencil and pad, I can draw a knot with absolute certainty from its written description?

In internet parlance, what is the Knotting Hypertext Mark-up Language (KHTML) that will unambiguously describe a knot structure?

Are the right people gathered today on this forum to be able to define or at least start to define the KHTML?

Hold a piece of cord in your hands - tie your favourite knot in it, then ask yourself - "how could I unambiguously describe this structure to someone else through words alone?" and "How would I like this structure to be described to me so that I could 'see' it or draw it?"

Anyone up for the challenge?
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: DerekSmith on December 10, 2006, 06:00:53 PM
One starting point might be to define the perceptual space the knot will be defined within.

All my knots are created within the few cubic feet of space in front of my body and as such are referenced to my 'self' in terms of spatial location.

This space has right and left sides.  It has up i.e. in the direction of my head and down, in the direction of my feet.

Near relates to the space between the knot and my torso, while away relates to the other side of the knot away from the 'near' side.

Over relates to passing over the near side or up or top side of the knot while under refers to passing the back or away side or the under or the down sides of the knot.

As I am right handed, for me the perceived origin of a knot is the cord held in my right hand and I would instinctively describe the path of a cord through a knot starting from this origin point.

Using this perceptual space in conjunction with the Crossing Point notation, the description for the simple Overhand Knot might look like this:-

[language] = KHTML
[knot name] = "Overhand Knot"
[WKI] = "http://igkt.pbwiki.com/Overhand%20Knot"
[function] = "Stopper knot"
[status] = "whole knot"
[overs index] = {3:6},C1,C2,C3
[origin] = "Right hand"
[space] = "Body normal"

[path]
[cord end] = "End#1"
[cord name] = "Cord1"
[direction] = l(eft), h(orizontal)
Over C1
[direction] = b(ack), u(p), l(eft)
Under C2
[direction] = l, f(orward), u
[direction]  =  l, f(orward), d(own)
Over C3
[direction] = r(ight), b, h
[direction] = u
Under C1
[direction] u, l, f
[direction] d, l
Over C2
[direction] l, b, d
Under C3
[direction] l [length] = "SP"
[cord end] = "SP#1"
[/path]

Were you able to follow the trace of the cord using the directions of l(eft) r(ight), b(ack) f(orward), u(p) d(own) and h(orizontal) and the compound directions such as "l, f, d" which is a three dimensional move left, forward and down simultaneously?

Would the instructions have been clearer if they had distance values included, for example, [direction] = r, b, h [length] = 4 and possibly curvature indicators indicating the tightness of the curve (perhaps in cord diameters)?

I realise this will immediately fail the Dave Root test of "the man in the street", but then nobody would expect to be able to read HTML without first having learnt the syntax of that language, despite this, HTML drives the internet today.  Likewise, KHTML would have to be learnt in order to read and interpret it whilst delivering the potential of giving us a basic language with which to unambiguously describe a knot structure.

Doubtless we will need a few more whistles and bells to give us a full working KHTML vocabulary capable of describing the majority of conventional (i.e. functional)  knots.  Such a language should be able to be utilised to describe the complex (i.e. decorative) knots, but I will leave that gauntlet to others who might have a need to do such a thing.

Longer term, we could consider adding components to describe the structure of a dressed knot and components to describe methods of tying, but for the time being perhaps we could 'cut our teeth' on a language to simply describe the structure of a knot.

I have put a description of this outline definition of KHTML syntax onto the Wiki so that members can develop it further, see:-  http://igkt.pbwiki.com/KHTML
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: Willeke on December 10, 2006, 06:05:31 PM
I think the solution to understanding problems lies not in stilted language forms, but in imagination while writing.
And that is restricted when you have to keep to a strick format.

Willeke
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: DerekSmith on December 10, 2006, 08:10:13 PM
I think the solution to understanding problems lies not in stilted language forms, but in imagination while writing.
And that is restricted when you have to keep to a strick format.

Willeke

How does you proposal help Dan's imagination when creating his descriptions?

Nothing is restricted when we keep to a strict format except confusion - the www is an example of how rich a source of information can be created when we all learn to communicate in a standard unified language.  The limit is, as you quite rightly point out, our imagination, not the language.
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: Willeke on December 10, 2006, 08:11:17 PM
Then there is no use to limit language by strict rules either.

Willeke
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: DerekSmith on December 10, 2006, 08:39:41 PM
Willeke,

I quote your own strap line vis-

""Never underestimate what a simple person can do with clever tools,
nor what a clever person can do with simple tools
."


In knotting we have too many ambiguous words - a little structure might help - don't you think?

Derek
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: Willeke on December 10, 2006, 08:41:11 PM
Structure in what you want to say, not in a 'language' that requires study to write in it, or even read it.

Willeke
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: DerekSmith on December 10, 2006, 09:04:04 PM
Structure in what you want to say, snip...

Willeke

Yes I agree, but how do you propose to give people that structure?
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: Willeke on December 10, 2006, 09:09:13 PM
Ask them to describe what they see at each stage of tying the knot. And have them test it by telling it on the phone to a not knottyer who has to be able to tie the knot.
That is what I did in that knotchallenge where I used only words, and even then some things got hazy.
Words are just not clear enough, use pictures too.

Willeke
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: squarerigger on December 10, 2006, 09:41:35 PM
I agree with Willeke that you need pictures also.  Most knotting books or written knotting instructions include pictures, and people who are gifted with words fail to adquately describe anything concrete, even when given limitless amounts of paper and time.  Old macrame magazines use pictures all the time as well as simple O1U1 instructions.  The best writers of our time refer to objects that are known already ("A rose is a rose by any other name..") to describe what is going on (the sun rose like a silver orb spilling over the steel-colored sea, heaving its bosom against the ever-rising winds blowing softly against our shining, silver-gilt faces as we turned to the grey dawn of another day at sea off the coast of Malibu, California) rather than using plain instruction (the star known as sun gradually appeared over the horizon of the Pacific ocean.  We were in longitude 118 degrees west and latitude 34 north.  The ocean was colored battleship grey ASTM 1234-5678-90 and an increasing swell rose from about 6 inches to about 1 foot above MSL over a period of one minute or so with increasing winds moving easterly from Force 0 to Force 1 or 2 at shortly after 0700 PDT).  Somehow when a knot is desribed with color, it becomes more real, just as the tyer perceives it in their hands, just as they feel it performing in front of them.  Sometimes, too, it is necessary to say "over one and under one" - just not all the time.  Does that make sense?  My two-pennorth...

Lindsey ;D
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: DerekSmith on December 10, 2006, 10:02:07 PM
snip....
That is what I did in that knotchallenge where I used only words, and even then some things got hazy.
Words are just not clear enough, use pictures too.

Willeke

Again I agree.  English 'in the rough' is just too flexible, too great a potential for ambiguity.  Your English is excellent, better than most for whom it is their first language, your attention to precision in the knotchallenge was exquisite, yet it still took three itterations before English was restricted tightly enough for ambiguity to be removed.

You are right too in that we should use images or sketches to augment our words, I have argued strongly for this in previous posts and utilise images extensively in my own posts.

BUT !  -- words are universal, the ability to make and post images is not.  Also, at the moment computers cannot read images, but they can read highly structured text.  If we can agree and develop a functional XML that unambiguously describes the structure of a knot, then it not only helps us all focus our clarity of thought on the exact movement of the cord through the knot, but it also takes us a step closer to the possibility of a KHTML parser capable of rendering a KHTML file into an onscreen graphic.

Thats what the internet is about - simple structured hypertext markup language that can be parsed into the incredible array of web pages we now have at our disposal, but it all is based on a simple unambiguous structured language that lets it all happen.  Words into graphics - magic !!

I also agree with Lindsey that the richness of our language can impart so much more than mere form.  But with knots, colour and mood can only be allowed to be enjoyed when the language has been constrained sufficiently to allow us to exactly communicate the knot structure.  There is no value in waxing lyrical when the thing we hold in our hands is a killer not a life saver.  First we need rigor to ensure accuracy of form, then and only then can we afford the luxury of adding mood music to the occasion.

All I am proposing is a basic vocabulary and descriptive syntax to allow us to unambiguously communicate the structure of a knot.  I am not argueing that we drain the colour out of our sport nor that we abandon images.  I am argueing that we add to our abilities, not reduce them.

Derek
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: Dan_Lehman on December 11, 2006, 04:55:32 AM
Now, to my shame, I have to admit that even on the third attempt I was no nearer being able to 'picture' or recreate Dan's enhancement, but even worse, I had no fall back method to get me over this problem of failed understanding.
But in fact you did, and I stated it:  tell me where my words departed your understanding!
--instead of creating an entire other thread to cast about for some magic language that will
be well grounded and readily understood & practised to avoid the difficulty of having to ask
a question and engage a discussion!

Quote
To the writer, who sees the structure in their minds eye, the words "I say to include the parallel strand of the knot (the twin of the two eye legs) in what is cross over/outside, and to then tuck under both, or "between" those twin parts and the SPart." are clearly descriptive, but to the reader who does not have that mental image, the words can be meaningless.
My words referenced a specific image (provided by you), which all reading them
could have in their eyes--nothing private about that.

--dl*
====
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: roo on December 11, 2006, 04:56:58 AM
Derek,

While this is the IGKT, we are not necessarily the foremost experts in knotting.   I know that I am not.

Don't feel too bad about missing Dan's attempts to communicate knot structure by words.   Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  The frustration in this matter has caused some emotional outbursts at times.   I admit that I often will not read such descriptions.  The probability of success is too low, and the probability of error is too high.

The engineering fields do have a long-established method of communicating three-dimensional information.  It is drawing and diagrams.  I see no reason it need be different with knots.

Just about any computer has at least a rudimentary draw/paint program.  I'd wager that a higher percentage of persons could successfully produce a graphical representation of knots than could describe them with text.

-My 2 cents.
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: PatDucey on December 11, 2006, 08:55:45 PM
Using the structure that Dekek posted for an overhand knot caused me to cringe.  Were I to use that text structure for a complex Turks Head, I would have to write code like a computer programmer.  The graphical representation of a picture or drawing is easiest for the kind of work I do.  I have tried to define what I do in words, but only to someone who already can tie a Turks Head without help.  Even then, the words get in the way.  But sending a picture, or drawing, is the thousand words that gives the best definition when I can't be there to demonstrate and point.

Perhaps a better way of defining knots would be to make a list not unlike biology.  Similar to Family and Phylum, knots can be classified in a similar fashion.  Ashley did this kind of classification with the chapters in the ABOK.  Then it would be a matter of filling in the branches of the knotting tree.  Only instead of using words, we should use pictures and graphics to both classify, and define how to tie.  Then it could be used as a reference independant of language.

Pat
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: DerekSmith on December 11, 2006, 09:58:52 PM
Using the structure that Derek posted for an overhand knot caused me to cringe.  Were I to use that text structure for a complex Turks Head, I would have to write code like a computer programmer.  The graphical representation of a picture or drawing is easiest for the kind of work I do.  I have tried to define what I do in words, but only to someone who already can tie a Turks Head without help.  Even then, the words get in the way.  But sending a picture, or drawing, is the thousand words that gives the best definition when I can't be there to demonstrate and point.

Perhaps a better way of defining knots would be to make a list not unlike biology.  Similar to Family and Phylum, knots can be classified in a similar fashion.  Ashley did this kind of classification with the chapters in the ABOK.  Then it would be a matter of filling in the branches of the knotting tree.  Only instead of using words, we should use pictures and graphics to both classify, and define how to tie.  Then it could be used as a reference independant of language.

Pat

Oh Pat,

I have Roo thinking its April Fools day and now I have set you all of a cringe.  But please worry yourself not - it seems strange to quote ones self but here goes
Quote
Doubtless we will need a few more whistles and bells to give us a full working KHTML vocabulary capable of describing the majority of conventional (i.e. functional)  knots.  Such a language should be able to be utilised to describe the complex (i.e. decorative) knots, but I will leave that gauntlet to others who might have a need to do such a thing.

As you can see, I am proposing leaving all the knitting patterns to those skilled in producing that form of decorative assembly.  I am certain that it is going to be hard enough to get this slick enough to work reliably for the simple knots so I have no intention of doing my head in trying to write the pattern for the complex creations you and others are skilled at producing.  We are going to have to agree that until someone from decorative knotting decides to tackle the problem, that you are all going to have to rely on pictures and drawings.

I like your concept of the Tree of Knots - Family, branch, twig, leaf - there you have it, images of the knot tied, diagrams showing it being tied, maybe even Flash animations of methods of tying.  One day I don't doubt we will have such a tree of knots, one day perhaps a group will start work on it and maybe one day you and I will be in there working on it.

Until then we are left with pictures and drawings and words that don't work.  Pictures take up a lot of web space and bandwidth and some people cannot yet produce them easily or at all, so often we are left with the words that don't work or work only poorly and then only with great effort.

So today, the knotting world has a simple language that allows us to turn a simple knot into a set of words which can be easily communicated and can then be reliably converted back into a drawing of that knot  --  without ambiguity.

Derek
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: DerekSmith on December 11, 2006, 10:46:24 PM
Derek,

While this is the IGKT, we are not necessarily the foremost experts in knotting.

Nothing to stop us pushing our field forward though is there?

Quote
The frustration in this matter has caused some emotional outbursts at times.  I admit that I often will not read such descriptions.  The probability of success is too low, and the probability of error is too high.

I totally agree when we use rich unstructured English.  Even Dan's very clear instructions relating to the 'red end' were ambiguous - "pass the red end over itself then back under itself".  This can be interpreted in two ways 1. passed right then back under itself or 2. passed left then forward, back under itself.  The second way forms the overhand knot which is the only knot that can be made in-line, so this is probably the form Dan meant.  Using unconstrained English leaves the probability of error way too high.

Quote
The engineering fields do have a long-established method of communicating three-dimensional information.  It is drawing and diagrams.  I see no reason it need be different with knots.

And these used to be drawn using pen and paper and sent through the post.  Today they are drawn with AutoCAD and sent and displayed through the internet.  But guess what, behind those drawings is a text based language which describes exactly every line, curve, shade etc..  Those drawings are communicated in text files with an eps structure - encapsulated post script (or propriatory equivalent).  Strangely enough, restricting the number of words we can use and the way we can use them actually eliminates ambiguity, that why a CAD drawing will always display the same, there is no room for ambiguity in the text that describes how to recreate the drawing.

Quote
Just about any computer has at least a rudimentary draw/paint program.  I'd wager that a higher percentage of persons could successfully produce a graphical representation of knots than could describe them with text.

Most of us can draw with a pen and paper, but have you ever tried to draw with "Paint" ?  No matter how careful you are the result looks like a 2 year old did it.  Consequently we all try to get by with words rather than expose the world to our Painter works of 'art' and ourselves to rigorous jesting.

We will always need pictures, but I believe we also need a simple and unambiguous text based system that we can fall back on when needed, we just need to agree on one.

Derek
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: PatDucey on December 12, 2006, 02:08:36 AM
Derek,

I am an AutoCAD drafter, and the templates I design to draw complex Turks Heads use about the same computer memory as a JPEG.  Some of the drawings I work with in the shipyard can get HUGE, but the simple stuff for knots are quite reasonable.  Typically I insert the AutoCAD into a Word document so it can be opened by almost anyone.  Whether it is a .doc, a .jpg, or a .dwg, it will take about the same computer memory to store an individual knot.

Before I was a drafter, I submitted to Knotting Matters a Paint drawing, which now that I look back at it, does look a bit rough.  But it was published, and it clearly conveyed the idea I was trying to get across.  AutoCAD cost about $1000 (US) a license, so it is also quite cost prohibitive.  There are many marvelous drafting tools that span from Paint to AutoCAD, and this is an area where you get what you pay for.  If you need the whiz-bang tools, AutoCAD is it.  For most knots, there are many fine alternatives.  I love the knots that Willeke draws, they are clear and concise, and I don't think that's AutoCAD she's using. 

Also, the text instructions behind the AutoCAD drawing are stupid.  In effect it says "draw a black line with width 2 from pt A to pt B".  Each line is a distinct entity, with no continuity if the line is broken.  Each separate entity is also drawn in the order that it was created.  If you edit a drawing, the stuff you edit, no matter where in the drawing it is located, is last on the instruction list.  AutoCAD is a fine for tool for creating and printing a drawing, but the text that instructs the drawing isn't very good to give instructions to a human.  Once the entire drawing is drawn, it can be interpreted by a human, but the machine language is only for machines.

Pat
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: roo on December 12, 2006, 04:32:40 AM
...
Most of us can draw with a pen and paper, but have you ever tried to draw with "Paint" ?  No matter how careful you are the result looks like a 2 year old did it.  Consequently we all try to get by with words rather than expose the world to our Painter works of 'art' and ourselves to rigorous jesting.
...
Derek


Don't worry, nobody will give you (or anybody) a bad time about sloppy or choppy drawings.  Most of us are relieved and grateful to get an unambigous visualization we can decipher in a few seconds... and on the first try.   ;)
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: admin on December 31, 2006, 09:47:51 PM
We will always need pictures, but I believe we also need a simple and unambiguous text based system that we can fall back on when needed, we just need to agree on one.

Speaking as a programmer and web developer, I can appreciate your point. You're looking for an information communication system specifically for knots, yes? How that information is interpreted when it reaches its destination is almost a separate issue. Once the 'data' is received, it can be rendered in a number of ways that are appropriate to the person/system receiving it. The key issue, as I see it, is ensuring that the 'data' moves from person to person (or system to system) in a standard, unambigious manner.

I'd suggest you look at XML - eXtensible Markup Language. This is a system that is designed to communicate information but, most importantly of all, you can define your own 'language terms'. Your own 'dictionary' if you like. As long as people/systems have access to your 'dictionary', they can understand the information that they have been sent and can 'decode it' correctly according to their needs.

http://www.xml.com/pub/a/98/10/guide0.html

However, it is my experience that many of the people who excel at arts/craft are those who find logic-based solutions to be the most alien. It seems to be a different mind-set. So it may be that some of the very people who could make good use of your Knot Markup Language will find it uncomprehensible and/or intimidating. That said, it would seem to be an excellent possibility for archiving material in a form that would be (relatively) easy to extract at a later date.

Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: KnotMe on January 02, 2007, 01:16:39 AM
Is not Adobe Illustrator (or other vector graphics drawing programs like Corel Draw or Inkscape or Freehand) a good compromise between AutoCAD and raster drawing programs like Paint (or Photoshop or Gimp or Painter or...)?  If 3D is needed, there are a slew of other open source programs, plus IIRC Maya is free to use for personal purposes.

A vector drawing programs manipulates line segments and curves vs pixels producing a file format that can be more easily modified and better approximating the representation of cord.

Inkscape (and probably others) uses SVG (XML based representation of the vector information).  Most knots, at least during the tying, seem like they can be represented in 2D given some layer information.  So, using an SVG based vector drawing program would give you the tedious computer representation in a relatively painless fashion.  In 3D there is OpenGL among other formats.

If we're just talking about helping our fellow knotters tie a particular knot, then clear illustrations and some explanatory text is the basic thing to do.  You can add in videos of the construction process.  The next stage is probably a 3D animated model that can be rotated.  After that, maybe you can give people kits for each knot with a couple of tied knots so they can inspect them and move the cords around.

Anything that completely and unambiguously describes all cases of knot tying is bound to be extremely technical and arcane.

What I'd love to be able to do is come up with a computer representation system that spans Celtic knot drafting (several of which already exist), turk's head drafting (ask the system for an AxB turk's head and get the grid, there's at least 1 or 2 of these, right?) as well as, say, AxB mystic knots or A over B flower knots or AxB bao knots or ... etc.

It's possible that a representation system and a construction description methodology can be generated by the IGKT big brains, academics and theorists, but it also might be quicker and easier to do it on a case by case basis (plug-ins!): such as expandable rectangular turk's heads, expandable cruciform turk's heads, solid convex mat shapes, etc.
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: DerekSmith on January 02, 2007, 05:15:36 PM

Anything that completely and unambiguously describes all cases of knot tying is bound to be extremely technical and arcane.


Arcane is an interesting word.

Dict Arcane  known or understood by very few; mysterious; secret; obscure; requiring secret or mysterious knowledge.

When I first applied for apprenticeship to the world of Knot Tyers, I was introduced to the words of the Guild - Bend, Bight, SPart, WorkingPart etc. (known or understood by very few; mysterious; secret; obscure; requiring secret or mysterious knowledge.)  I think we are struggling because the knotting world is already 'Arcane' - and worse - it is inconsistent.  Ashley defines a Bight as the centre part of a rope or a curve or arc in the rope, while many will take the term to mean an open loop (ABOK #31) or a closed loop (ABOK #32).  Layer on top of this the diversity of terminologies stemming from different trades and you have the near useless lexicon with which we struggle (and generally fail) to communicate today.  These words have worked for centuries because in the day of the Apprentice, the fundamental means of transferring knowledge was demonstration.  Words were to help recall, but the essence of knowledge transfer was done at the hand of the Master by visual example and demonstration.

Today, we do not sit at the Masters side as they demonstrate their knowledge.  We sit on opposite sides of the globe and struggle to use the words in isolation.  It should come as no surprise that these archaic words fail us, it should not be too much of a surprise to learn that these words MUST fail us - they were never designed to be the primary means of teaching (knowledge transfer) and they fail the task miserably.

BUT - today, we share more knowledge around the world in a second, than would have been shared in a lifetime when our knotting lexicon was created, and it is nearly all done in words.  Special words, designed to transfer knowledge to others around the globe, without fear of ambiguity.  These words are the language of HTML and XML and you may well choose to describe them as "extremely technical and arcane".  In a small way you would be right, but you would be much more correct to describe them as "precise and simple".  You could learn to write (and read) a simple html page in under an hour, in contrast, how long would it take you to learn the simplest of  spoken languages with its book sized dictionary?  The Internet has taught us that to exchange information unambiguously, we need fewer words, not more and a simple syntax that does not change meanings with the experience and perspective of the reader.  The only downside of this is that it takes a lot of simple descriptions to describe something which is complex, but that is a tiny price to pay for a communication system which actually works.

Although HTML and XML are designed to be machine readable - i.e. a computer can 'read' them and create on the screen the information intended - XML also has the fundamental prerequisite that it be human readable (and of course, writeable) it might be tedious in its simplicity, but it is 100% accurate in its reproducibility and 0%  ambiguous in its interpretation and that surely is what we need to start off with in our struggle to create a knotting lexicon for the 21st centuary.

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What I'd love to be able to do is come up with a computer representation system that spans Celtic knot drafting (several of which already exist), turk's head drafting (ask the system for an AxB turk's head and get the grid, there's at least 1 or 2 of these, right?) as well as, say, AxB mystic knots or A over B flower knots or AxB bao knots or ... etc.

It's possible that a representation system and a construction description methodology can be generated by the IGKT big brains, academics and theorists, but it also might be quicker and easier to do it on a case by case basis (plug-ins!): such as expandable rectangular turk's heads, expandable cruciform turk's heads, solid convex mat shapes, etc.

I think that the goals you expound for yourself are way, way ahead of the 'simple' knot description language I am seeking - on the scale of 'walk before you run' you are probably just boarding the Mars Express!!  However, when we have a language that can reliably describe a simple knot, then we are only a step away from describing complex or compound knots.  Then in turn we are only a step away from describing tiles or to use your phrase 'plug-ins' and that in turn is only a step away from being able to assemble the highly complex constructions you are used to working with every day.

Every great journey starts with the first step, and perhaps if we can build on Mel's suggestions of basing our lexicon on XML, then maybe we have taken our first few faltering steps.  To proceed, some of us are going to have to learn a little XML and create and define a handful of terms that will allow us to 'write down a knot'.  We will then have to apply this to a selected handful of benchmark knots to uncover 'special' cases, and develop methods to handle them.  Key to this phase will be uncovering all the questions like - "How do I handle objects included in the knot like - eyes, spars etc.?" and "How do I annotate a helical coil?".  While some of us have our noses proverbially at the coal face, we may well need others (maybe Mel?) looking at the bigger picture in terms of how we go about integrating our little bit of XML with the mainstream and how we go about creating an XML parser that can render our  descriptions into glorious 3D in our browsers, and maybe even the reverse - taking our sketches or pictures and turning them into XML for us?

It will be quite a journey, but I am confident it can be done and equally certain that we need it now we no longer have apprenticeships to Master Knotters.  We will of course need a place to collect the ideas and developments together and as ever there is a wiki just waiting to oblige at http://knot-html.pbwiki.com/  Any comments, corrections ideas etc can be entered using the password igkt backed up with discussion through the forum.  If you have already spotted some problems/hurdles then jot them down on the problems page at http://knot-html.pbwiki.com/Problems%20and%20Challenges someone is bound to have ideas how to approach them.


All Aboard for the Mars Express ??
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: DerekSmith on January 02, 2007, 06:29:57 PM
We will always need pictures, but I believe we also need a simple and unambiguous text based system that we can fall back on when needed, we just need to agree on one.

Speaking as a programmer and web developer, I can appreciate your point. You're looking for an information communication system specifically for knots, yes? How that information is interpreted when it reaches its destination is almost a separate issue. Once the 'data' is received, it can be rendered in a number of ways that are appropriate to the person/system receiving it. The key issue, as I see it, is ensuring that the 'data' moves from person to person (or system to system) in a standard, unambiguous manner.

I'd suggest you look at XML - eXtensible Markup Language. This is a system that is designed to communicate information but, most importantly of all, you can define your own 'language terms'. Your own 'dictionary' if you like. As long as people/systems have access to your 'dictionary', they can understand the information that they have been sent and can 'decode it' correctly according to their needs.

http://www.xml.com/pub/a/98/10/guide0.html

However, it is my experience that many of the people who excel at arts/craft are those who find logic-based solutions to be the most alien. It seems to be a different mind-set. So it may be that some of the very people who could make good use of your Knot Markup Language will find it incomprehensible and/or intimidating. That said, it would seem to be an excellent possibility for archiving material in a form that would be (relatively) easy to extract at a later date.



Mel,

As ever, I find your analysis to be spot on.  You focus precisely on the requirement of creating the knot description in "a standard, unambiguous manner".

Your suggestion to use XML is probably key and I am reading through your link pages to get an understanding of the XML requirements, of course, any tips and help you can give me would be appreciated.

I think you will be particularly correct that art/craft folk will not warm to the pedanticity of writing a knot description in XML or any other form of  'RISK' language.  Consequently I think we should not expect too much participation from the knotting membership, at least until the thing starts to bear fruit and we start to see the descriptions being rendered on screen.

I particularly relate to the need to archive knot information.  Pictures and written descriptions are often insufficient to understand the whole structure of a knot and diagrams fail to define the dressed or working structure of a knot.  Even Ashley 'lost' some knot definitions and I am sure that knots are being continuously lost as people die taking with them their unrecorded memories.  A Knot-XML will mean we can record the structures of knots in their dressed structure and will give the additional advantage of allowing us to search for 'signatures' of various knot elements within knots - this has obvious forensic values and will allow knots to be studied as family groups sharing specific structural characteristics.  I remain firmly convinced that the future development of any 'Science of Knots' depends firmly on the prior development of a knotting descriptive lexicon - a 'language of the knots'.

I only hope the project attracts enough people to make a job of it.
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: KnotMe on January 02, 2007, 08:29:59 PM
I think that the goals you expound for yourself are way, way ahead of the 'simple' knot description language I am seeking - on the scale of 'walk before you run' you are probably just boarding the Mars Express!!

I always do that.  I take one or two baby steps then tend to head straight for the Mars Express.  8)

I'm just going to say one more word about XML and then shut up, though.

It's true that one of the requirements of XML is that it must be human readable.  This is to prevent it being co-opted by powers that may wish to corrupt it and try to take it into the proprietary realm (as has happened to HTML in the past and CSS in the present).  But the primary purpose of XML is to describe data for interchange via computers.  Tagging parts of a book "author's dedication" "chapter head" or "table of contents" is for the benefit and understanding (data parsing and extraction) of computers, not humans directly.

To create a new XML schema, a human must first thoroughly understand the topic and then create a breakdown for computer input.  Then they need to create the software that will decode it again for human understanding.  In other words you need to know how to take your baby steps and also have a complete map to Mars and Alpha Centauri before starting to share or risk littering the landscape with droves of incomplete and possibly incompatible "one true description language".

If your primary purpose is to transmit data from human to human then sitting down as the IGKT and agreeing on bight vs open loop, working end vs bitter end vs etc. and standardizing (and clearly, formally defining) would go further, more efficiently.
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: DerekSmith on January 02, 2007, 10:18:40 PM
Wow,

Carol, am I glad you are here, You clearly know a lot about XML and its use and perhaps more importantly, its issues.

Please do not make this your last word on XML, I feel that if I can hang on your coat tails long enough, your knowledge and energy might just help take me where I need to get.  There is much I need to learn, not least is the very point you make that in order to create a language to describe a knot, we must first learn how to describe it.  Doubtless, with that process there will be mistakes and dead ends, but I do not see a new asteroid belt of dumped dictionaries of failed attempts.  More likely, the language will acquire necessary components while discarding those which were inadequate - it will evolve into something usable, and if the cost of that is a few dead end remnants, then that is a small price to pay.

Yes, I understand that the purpose of XML is for it to be machine readable, and yes that would have to be seen as an ultimate goal, but along the way we have first to learn, as you carefully have pointed out, how to describe a knot, and in doing so we will uncover the means of unambiguously communicating knot movements/structures to one another.

As for your suggestion that we should consider sitting down as the IGKT and resolving the disparity of perceptions ranging over our existing terminology - well - first, if it could be made to happen, it would be a welcome breath of clarity to our field - BUT -

It would not resolve this problem, because the terms themselves do not, and cannot, describe the subtle angles and twists which differentiate one knot from a close neighbour, and because you would still be using unrestricted English, you would not be removing the opportunity for ambiguity from a description.

However, the really big BUT is - how long are you planning to live for?  From what I have seen of the IGKT, the only good things to happen are this Forum and the KM - Nothing else Happens, or at least if it does the pace is measured in lifetimes.  I genuinely think that without being naive about this, the only way to make changes happen is for members to do 'it', then hope that the IGKT PTB get round to ratifying it (but don't hold your breath).

Besides, I could not sit down as the IGKT, because I am not a member yet - my application made nearly 8 months ago is still somewhere in the system and I have only ever had one reply from any of my enquiries re progress (like I said, progress measured in lifetimes and Stasis boxes haven't been invented yet!).
Title: Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
Post by: Knot Head on January 03, 2007, 05:28:25 AM
Hi all. Forgive my ingnorance in this matter. I have found that a picture, or even an illustration can replace a thousand words. But if you combine the two in one place you have an indespensable resource of information to learn and to be taught.