Ted Goranson - Personal Blog

The blog of Ted Goranson. This is both a personal blog and an ongoing update on his projects.

Kutachi Reference Annotations

Published: 16 Mar 2013

Some developments and budgetary issues have pushed the Kutachi Project infrastructure ahead of that for FilmsFolded. In particular, we have been getting the journals of the symmetry society scanned, indexed and online.

Simultaneously, we have emptied my file cabinets and scanned a few thousand scientific, mathematical and science papers that have been collected over the years, including some that are quite rare. I intend to make what amounts to an annotated bibliography of papers, including both my stash and the symmetry papers that are relevant to the Kutachi Project. The first papers will be those from the symmetry journals because they are now on line and I need to justify to myself the enormous effort it has taken. There are some quite good ideas in that resource. I've started the annotations and the results are on a separate blog within the symmetry site.

My original plan was to write the essays on this site in first draft, first for FilmsFolded, then Kutachi. Over time, I would then go through notes and old papers, improving and expanding the essays, referencing those papers worth reading. It was a good plan, because it tosses out half formed ideas (in the essay drafts) that can grow through community contribution. The publishing infrastructure we have here for these essays is extraordinary and we are set up to create narrative examples as well, structured in ways that allow experiments and demonstrations.

That plan has changed for a few reasons.

The shift in emphasis to Kutachi is partly because it can more directly map to a strategy for sponsorship. Another reason is that getting the FilmsFolded comments back on line has become daunting. The original site was created as a fun project by a friend and erased by accident. Replacing it properly is a big job. At the same time, the need for the symmetry society to have the journals published became critical.

It is also the case that my personal time now comes in a few small segments in the day and I can only accomplish smaller tasks like writing notes on work by others. This is a temporary, baby-driven situation. I can write them on the new iPad I bought for this purpose, or even on the iPhone if I can grab a few minutes. At least this way you can see something and progress is being made.

I started at random on Volume 3 of the society's print journal. These are the abstracts from the 1992 meeting in Hiroshima because I wanted to capture some key ideas from Kodi Husimi, who has been an influence on me and the work.

Now that I have started, I'm having a hard time not investing a lot in these annotations and that is the subject of this post.

There are two issues:

Where Does Depth Go?

Worries about putting too much explanation in the annotations at the cost of the essays.

The model I have in mind for the FilmsFolded essays is that they will suppose some grand insight that can be presented as a general observation. Some of these observations will be novel, even unintuitive so would be helped by specific examples. In each essay, I'd mention the use of the focus dynamic in few films. The examples would thus serve to improve an essay.

We'd have a parallel site with the Tedg IMDb comments, where each film has its own page. Though some of the Tedg/IMDb comments are interesting, they usually don't economically discuss the specific folding dynamic of the example. So for each film in the database, I now have to write an entirely new note, highlighting the relevant bits, and do so in a way that anticipates how the several essays may refer to dynamic in the film. (This is what is holding the project up.)

So in theory, a future reader would come to the dozen or so FilmsFolded essays on this site. Each of those is (will be) designed to be intrinsically interesting. They would cite examples in films, possibly using the same text I wrote in my new annotation for each film. The reader could hop over to the comment site to see more information on the film from me, and further link to comprehensive generic film info sites.

A collaborating reader would be able to comment on the essay, because that is what we want to mature. Each essay should describe a principle in cinematic narrative dynamics that we can implement in next generation experimental intelligent machines.

Going to the comment site first should make sense too.

The Kutachi essays have the same arrangement. We'll just have to work it out. The primary driver here is to support the essays, but a reader should not get lost if she approached from the bottoms up, coherent insights emerging from experiences.

In the case of the Kutachi Project, each essay should focus on a technique or metaphor to be used in interfaces for next generation machines. The Kutachi essays will refer to work by others, with some sort of intermediate text (written by me) between the essay and the reference.

In a conventional technical paper, all this bridging work is done in the main body of the text. That is simply an artifact of paper technology and we should be able to do better than that.

So we have to engineer where the depth is distributed, whether in the essay, the reference's annotation. Or I suppose we could just keep it packaged in the reference.

Someone should be able to read an essay as a self-contained document without following the references, even . So we need to have all the important ideas in the main text with the annotation only a supplement.

A specific twist on this is tossed around in the next section.

People Versus Papers

Sometimes it isn't a paper so much as the work of an individual.

This is a bit tricky. On my own machines, I keep PDF copies of everything I think is relevant to the projects. I tried all sorts of management schemes and have settled on Bookends, a Mac-based reference database manager. Populating this reference database by itself is a great task. Though my main work is writing for this site, I have also been required to write more traditionally formatted scientific papers. You need to be able to wrangle references for these or be swamped. But the big advantage is that a manicured Bookends file makes a reference base of thousands of PDFs manageable, especially since they span from Essene scholarship to speculative quantum theories to art.

A key field in the reference database is a note to myself about what in each paper strikes me as worth the investment in the idea. Sometimes a paper is not one I will find useful in my work, but is something trusted by others that I have to acknowledge. Other papers get things tantalizingly close, but present a barrier so far as the Kutachi Project.

Peter Klein's work is in this category. Do I include the paper with the others that directly contribute? If I annotate the paper over there, will I feel an obligation to reference it, even if it does not add

I’m finding the annotation process very helpful because having to make this extra cost makes me trash most of the papers and examine my own thoughts critically.

The notes to myself in the reference base are precisely the notes I started posting on the blog for the symmetry papers. The notes by themselves do not do a fair job of describing the paper, I suppose, instead are a reminder of what I personally find useful. There are various means to share Bookends databases, so it makes sense for me to write the notes as if a close collaborator will use them.

That argues for one note per paper. The William Huff paper is a good example. The man is brilliant and nearly everything he does is worth the investment. But he is a polymath and presents on quite different topics in each paper/presentation. So annotating-by- paper makes sense in his case.

But then the next paper is by Haresh Lalvani, a one page abstract of an idea that makes little sense by itself. If I write on that one abstract you won't get much. Lalvani as it turns out is one of only two or three souls working on an adventuresome, thrilling idea. If I write anything at all it should be about the idea itself, and then perhaps where the paper or book fits.

But then I end up writing an essay! And as marvelous as Haresh is, he has it a bit wrong for my world, and has little notion about how I would use the ideas. Several others, just from the symmetry community fall into this category.

Additionally, this essay site is set up for moderately sized complex work. The symmetry site uses WordPress infrastructure which does not accommodate a longer piece well. So what do I do, summarize a life’s work by someone I admire and also impose my own twist and then map it to the Project essay? Seems like a hard thing for both writer and reader.

Considering these two challenges, I've decided on a style guide for those annotations.

A Tentative Style Guide

The decisions: emphasize the essays.

Here is what I will try to do.

The work we are doing is essentially new; it is not an increment based on the work of others. And in the case where we do have shoulders we stand on, it seems better to not use their terms in our explanations.

The essays in both cases will be overtly original, risky and somewhat speculative. They will not describe work by others, except in extraordinary cases. We'll link in some way to the annotation. For Kutachi it is this blog. I don't yet know the linking convention; but it may be via a parenthetical stretchtext.

I will carefully tag the annotation blog entries so that you can productively noodle around there.

We'll link to online papers where we can. If the paper is one you are unlikely to get, the annotation will be more full. But in all this, the emphasis is on improving the quality and usefulness of the essays, de-emphasizing the utility of the blog as a way to navigate the symmetry journal papers.

If you subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog, I will post progress updates on the essays, but not on the annotations. You should be able to subscribe separately to an RSS feed for the annotation posts.

I expect the essay page URLs to be very stable, but it is possible that I will rewrite and re-order the annotation posts as I create them.

Comments will be open for the essays and I hope you participate. You likely can take this quite a bit further than me. There will be no comments on the annotation blog.

This is an example. These stretchtexts can contain images. and other parentheticals. What I might do is summarize the paper, perhaps using the annotation, and also provide the official reference data.

© copyright Ted Goranson, 2013