Saturday, May 16, 2015

Geographic Information Cognition and Human Spatial Orientation and Navigation in an Age of GIS and Virtual Reality: Locomotion Wayfinding and Systems of Reference

One critical area of scientific inquiry that bears directly on our ongoing analysis of ancient rock art, megaliths, mounds, earthworks etc. as land survey markers sited by astronomy is the question of human spatial and geographic orientation in a given environment and the role of systems of reference used for this purpose. Far too little research has been devoted to this topic and it is the kind of thing that research foundations should be sponsoring and funding.

We refer here to fundamental articles in Robert B. McMaster & E.Lynn Usery (eds.), 2004/2005. A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 402 p., ISBN-13: 978-0849327285 ISBN-10: 0849327288, eBook ISBN 978-1-4200-3833-0

and especially to Chapter 3 by Daniel R. Montello and Scott Freundschuh on the Cognition of Geographic Information, where they write, inter alia:
"Cognitive research about space and place has focused on several issues:  the responses of sensory systems that pick up spatial information, the development of spatial knowledge from birth to adulthood (ontogenesis) and upon first exposure to a new place (microgenesis), the accuracy and precision of knowledge about distances and directions, spatial language, cognitive structures and processes used during navigation, and perceptual and cognitive issues in cartography, and very recently, GIS. With the advent of new technologies like GIS, new questions about spatial perception and cognition develop, and old questions (both basic and applied) become focused in new ways. 
One of the most basic concepts in this area is that of the cognitive map. Introduced by Tolman (1948) in his work with rat spatial behavior, the cognitive map is a mental representation, or set of representations, of the spatial layout of the environment. According to Downs and Stea (1973), “cognitive mapping is a process composed of a series of psychological transformations by which an individual acquires, stores, recalls, and decodes information about the relative locations and attributes of phenomena in his [or her] everyday spatial environment” (p. 9). The cartographic map thus serves as a metaphor for spatial and environmental knowledge. Other metaphors have been offered as well, from topological schemata to cognitive collage (see Montello & Freundschuh, 1995). GIS and virtual reality provide our latest metaphors for environmental knowledge. 
Cognitive researchers are interested in comparing various sources of geographical knowledge. Montello and Freundschuh (1995) review the characteristics of acquiring knowledge from direct environmental experience, static pictorial representations such as maps (see Thorndyke & Hayes-Roth, 1982), dynamic pictorial representations (movies, animations), and language (see Taylor & Tversky, 1992). Montello and Freundschuh listed eight factors that may play roles in differentiating these sources of geographic information: sensorimotor
systems involved, static vs. dynamic information, sequential vs. simultaneous acquisition, the arbitrariness of symbols, the need for scale translations and their flexibility, viewing perspective, precision of presented information, and the inclusion of detail varying in relevance.
It is commonly thought that spatial knowledge of the environment consists of three types of features: knowledge of discrete landmarks, knowledge of routes that connect landmarks into travel sequences, and configurational or survey knowledge that coordinates and metrically scales routes and landmarks. In fact, inspired by Piagetian theory, it has often been suggested that these features represent a necessary learning sequence (Siegel & White, 1975; for an opposing view, see Montello, 1998). Landmarks in particular are thought to play an important role as anchor-points or reference points for the organization of environmental knowledge (Sadalla, Burroughs, & Staplin, 1980; Couclelis, Golledge, Gale, & Tobler, 1987).

Spatial cognition researchers have studied human navigation and orientation (Golledge, 1999). Navigation is coordinated and goal directed movement through space. It may be understood to consist of both locomotion and wayfinding processes.

Locomotion refers to perceptual-motor coordination to the local surrounds, and includes activities such as moving towards visible targets and avoiding obstacles.
Wayfinding refers to cognitive coordination to the distant environment, beyond direct sensorimotor access, and includes activities such as trip planning and route choice. Humans navigate and stay oriented both by recognizing landmarks (piloting) and by updating their sense of location via dead reckoning processes
(Gallistel, 1990; Loomis, Klatzky, Golledge, & Philbeck, 1999). Some of these processes are relatively automatic (Rieser, Pick, Ashmead, & Garing, 1995), while others are more like conscious strategies (Cornell, Heth, & Rowat, 1992).
 

A fundamental issue about human orientation concerns the systems of reference that people use to organize their spatial knowledge. Various possible systems have been discussed, including those that encode spatial relations with respect to the body, with respect to an external feature with or without differentiated appearance, or with respect to an abstract frame like latitude-longitude (Hart & Moore, 1973; Levinson, 1996). Several researchers have investigated reference systems within the context of verbal route directions (Allen, 1997)."

Monday, May 04, 2015

Law, Antiquities and Discoveries in the Pickwick Papers of Charles Dickens

The "immortal antiquarian discovery" in the Pickwick Papers by that most incomparably descriptive fiction writer, Charles Dickens, gives us some interesting insights into the world of antiquities and discoveries, here excerpted by us from the Gutenberg edition. It was Dickens' first novel and for all of our law readers, the novel (not in this excerpt) also has quite a bit of law. ENJOY!

"It was at this moment that Mr. Pickwick made that immortal discovery, which has been the pride and boast of his friends, and the envy of every antiquarian in this or any other country. They had passed the door of their inn, and walked a little way down the village, before they recollected the precise spot in which it stood. As they turned back, Mr. Pickwick's eye fell upon a small broken stone, partially buried in the ground, in front of a cottage door. He paused.

'This is very strange,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'What is strange?' inquired Mr. Tupman, staring eagerly at every object near him, but the right one. 'God bless me, what's the matter?'


This last was an ejaculation of irrepressible astonishment, occasioned by seeing Mr. Pickwick, in his enthusiasm for discovery, fall on his knees before the little stone, and commence wiping the dust off it with his pocket-handkerchief.


'There is an inscription here,' said Mr. Pickwick.


'Is it possible?' said Mr. Tupman.


'I can discern,'continued Mr. Pickwick, rubbing away with all his might, and gazing intently through his spectacles—'I can discern a cross, and a 13, and then a T. This is important,' continued Mr. Pickwick, starting up. 'This is some very old inscription, existing perhaps long before the ancient alms-houses in this place. It must not be lost.'


He tapped at the cottage door. A labouring man opened it.


'Do you know how this stone came here, my friend?' inquired the benevolent Mr. Pickwick.


'No, I doan't, Sir,' replied the man civilly. 'It was here long afore I was born, or any on us.'


Mr. Pickwick glanced triumphantly at his companion.


'You—you—are not particularly attached to it, I dare say,' said Mr. Pickwick, trembling with anxiety. 'You wouldn't mind selling it, now?'


'Ah! but who'd buy it?' inquired the man, with an expression of face which he probably meant to be very cunning.


'I'll give you ten shillings for it, at once,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'if you would take it up for me.'


The astonishment of the village may be easily imagined, when (the little stone having been raised with one wrench of a spade) Mr. Pickwick, by dint of great personal exertion, bore it with his own hands to the inn, and after having carefully washed it, deposited it on the table.


The exultation and joy of the Pickwickians knew no bounds, when their patience and assiduity, their washing and scraping, were crowned with success. The stone was uneven and broken, and the letters were straggling and irregular, but the following fragment of an inscription was clearly to be deciphered:—


          [cross]   B I L S T
                  u m
                   P S H I
                    S. M.
                    ARK
 

Mr. Pickwick's eyes sparkled with delight, as he sat and gloated over the treasure he had discovered. He had attained one of the greatest objects of his ambition. In a county known to abound in the remains of the early ages; in a village in which there still existed some memorials of the olden time, he—he, the chairman of the Pickwick Club—had discovered a strange and curious inscription of unquestionable antiquity, which had wholly escaped the observation of the many learned men who had preceded him. He could hardly trust the evidence of his senses.
....
The sun was shining brilliantly into his chamber, when he awoke, and the morning was far advanced.... After a hearty breakfast, the four gentlemen sallied forth to walk to Gravesend, followed by a man bearing the stone in its deal box....

It appears from the Transactions of the Club, then, that Mr. Pickwick lectured upon the discovery at a General Club Meeting, convened on the night succeeding their return, and entered into a variety of ingenious and erudite speculations on the meaning of the inscription.


It also appears that a skilful artist executed a faithful delineation of the curiosity, which was engraven on stone, and presented to the Royal Antiquarian Society, and other learned bodies: that heart-burnings and jealousies without number were created by rival controversies which were penned upon the subject; and that Mr. Pickwick himself wrote a pamphlet, containing ninety-six pages of very small print, and twenty-seven different readings of the inscription: that three old gentlemen cut off their eldest sons with a shilling a-piece for presuming to doubt the antiquity of the fragment; and that one enthusiastic individual cut himself off prematurely, in despair at being unable to fathom its meaning: that Mr. Pickwick was elected an honorary member of seventeen native and foreign societies, for making the discovery: that none of the seventeen could make anything of it; but that all the seventeen agreed it was very extraordinary.

Mr. Blotton, indeed—and the name will be doomed to the undying contempt of those who cultivate the mysterious and the sublime—Mr. Blotton, we say, with the doubt and cavilling peculiar to vulgar minds, presumed to state a view of the case, as degrading as ridiculous.


Mr. Blotton, with a mean desire to tarnish the lustre of the immortal name of Pickwick, actually undertook a journey to Cobham in person, and on his return, sarcastically observed in an oration at the club, that he had seen the man from whom the stone was purchased; that the man presumed the stone to be ancient, but solemnly denied the antiquity of the inscription—inasmuch as he represented it to have been rudely carved by himself in an idle mood, and to display letters intended to bear neither more or less than the simple construction of—'BILL STUMPS, HIS MARK'; and that Mr. Stumps, being little in the habit of original composition, and more accustomed to be guided by the sound of words than by the strict rules of orthography, had omitted the concluding 'L' of his Christian name.

The Pickwick Club (as might have been expected from so enlightened an institution) received this statement with the contempt it deserved, expelled the presumptuous and ill-conditioned Blotton from the society, and voted Mr. Pickwick a pair of gold spectacles, in token of their confidence and approbation: in return for which, Mr. Pickwick caused a portrait of himself to be painted, and hung up in the club room.


Mr. Blotton was ejected but not conquered. He also wrote a pamphlet, addressed to the seventeen learned societies, native and foreign, containing a repetition of the statement he had already made, and rather more than half intimating his opinion that the seventeen learned societies were so many 'humbugs.'


Hereupon, the virtuous indignation of the seventeen learned societies being roused, several fresh pamphlets appeared; the foreign learned societies corresponded with the native learned societies; the native learned societies translated the pamphlets of the foreign learned societies into English; the foreign learned societies translated the pamphlets of the native learned societies into all sorts of languages; and thus commenced that celebrated scientific discussion so well known to all men, as the Pickwick controversy.

But this base attempt to injure Mr. Pickwick recoiled upon the head of its calumnious author.


The seventeen learned societies unanimously voted the presumptuous Blotton an ignorant meddler, and forthwith set to work upon more treatises than ever. 

And to this day the stone remains, an illegible monument of Mr. Pickwick's greatness, and a lasting trophy to the littleness of his enemies."

Pale Moon "Your Browser, Your Way" as a Workable, Customizable, Efficient Alternative Browser Solution Forked from Mozilla Firefox for Windows, Android and Linux


Pale Moon might be an alternative browser solution for many users. We switched from our previous browser primarily because Pale Moon permits tabs underneath the rest of the toolbars at the top of the page, a feature that we need because it reduces "mouse miles" and speeds up our research work.

The whole philosophy of Pale Moon is what made Mozilla Firefox popular in the good old days -- USER customizability, not tyranny by software programmers or other company types trying to be important and pushing their ideas and preferences on others against their will. The USER is king.

PALE MOON is not only a brilliant "fork" of Mozilla Firefox 28 but constitutes a continued development which does not adopt "Australis", i.e. the ill-advised Mozilla Firefox 29 and subsequent versions, which have seen Firefox market share plummet. 

Here are some of the features which we pass on from the PaleMoon.org site, whose logo is ""Pale Moon -- Your Browser, Your Way"
  • You are able to import existing Firefox profiles with the migration tool
  • You have the option to put tabs not only above, but also BELOW the address bar -- this is working perfectly thus far
  • Under the Pale Moon "Status Bar" preferences at the tab option "Address Bar" you can click "Show progress in the Address Bar - and the line style that appears in that bar: none, bottom, top or fill -- try it out -- great!
Here is what Pale Moon writes at http://www.palemoon.org/ about "Your Browser, Your Way":
"Pale Moon is a free and open-source web browser based on Mozilla Firefox, available for Linux, Windows, and Android, developed and distributed by Dutch developer M.C. Straver. Pale Moon is a fork of Firefox, retaining the fully customizable user interface as seen in the previous era of the Firefox browser, and focusing on the core tasks of web browsing."


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