Author Topic: Houston - We Have a Problem  (Read 8883 times)

DerekSmith

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Houston - We Have a Problem
« 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?

DerekSmith

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #1 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

Willeke

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #2 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
"Never underestimate what a simple person can do with clever tools,
nor what a clever person can do with simple tools." - Ian Fieggen

Writer of A booklet on lanyards, available from IGKT supplies.

DerekSmith

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #3 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.

Willeke

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2006, 08:11:17 PM »
Then there is no use to limit language by strict rules either.

Willeke
"Never underestimate what a simple person can do with clever tools,
nor what a clever person can do with simple tools." - Ian Fieggen

Writer of A booklet on lanyards, available from IGKT supplies.

DerekSmith

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #5 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

Willeke

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #6 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
"Never underestimate what a simple person can do with clever tools,
nor what a clever person can do with simple tools." - Ian Fieggen

Writer of A booklet on lanyards, available from IGKT supplies.

DerekSmith

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #7 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?

Willeke

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #8 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
"Never underestimate what a simple person can do with clever tools,
nor what a clever person can do with simple tools." - Ian Fieggen

Writer of A booklet on lanyards, available from IGKT supplies.

squarerigger

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #9 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

DerekSmith

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #10 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

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #11 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*
====

roo

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #12 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.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2010, 08:26:35 PM by roo »
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PatDucey

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #13 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

DerekSmith

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Re: Houston - We Have a Problem
« Reply #14 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