Since I am limited by what I can share with explicit technology, I thought perhaps a soft piece might demonstrate through art what is at its core ancient trade craft.
My wife Betsy took up an art form a couple of years ago that intends to extend meaning from the individual artist specifically to the recipient of the piece, focusing on issues that have meaning between the two individuals. In one piece she created for the two of us, Betsy captured a hike in the high Sierras to remember our vacation that summer.
By using a combination of paints, sand, recycled materials, and a tiny bit of native materials, the result is a remarkable visual that instantly reminds me of that particular hike and our week’s vacation up in the Sierra; one of many we’ve been on in our nearly 30 years together. This visual form of communicating specific meaning between the two of us is highly effective in calling up a stored memory, but would not mean nearly as much to those who did not share the same experience.
In her most recent work in progress displayed here, the recipient is an old friend who teaches art to children. The vase on your left is a mosaic of photos sent by our friend of the children and their work in her studio, with the arms embracing the vase suggesting that the children are protected by good stewardship. The vase on your right depicts Betsy’s recent work. As a third person not involved, I may be interpreting this a bit differently than intended, which is fine of course, but I suspect that the two of them will interpret the visual meaning quite similarly.
This art form makes use of a universal language (vision-shapes, textures, colors, images, etc.) to communicate a specific message between two people that is based on shared knowledge and experiences stored in memory. In this case the shared experience dates back more than 30 years to a very unique time and place, with a significant recent update of information (‘catching up’) shared between the two in an e-reunion. The visual communication embedded in the art is heavily influenced by recent text exchanges in the shared non-universal language of English, which then recalled spoken English stored in memory from 30 years ago.
Those who have invested a great deal of time studying computing languages on the Web will probably already see the parallel to the direction of the Semantic Web. Yesterday I took a break from my work to watch Betsy completing the final phase of this piece, and I was struck by the similarity of her art with my work in Kyield.
I could see many commonalities between the two mediums, not least of which are dynamic relationships, adaptation, change of entities, updates, and mixed use of universal (visual) and ‘proprietary’ (English) languages. While substantial differences exist to be sure, we can learn from this much older form of expression, as well as the parallel innovation of personalization.