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Saturday, October 16, 2010

DBG visit signals change

Went over to the Denver Botanical Gardens today with a couple of projectors to test out the location. We had decided to back-project everything, but that took a great big fall when it turns out that the corners of the room have these enormous columns that eat a bunch of space we would have needed for proper project throw. Thus, we are back to projecting from the center of the floor. Luckily, there is a 4-foot riser that will hold us and the equipment, so we won't have to worry about interacting with the patrons(!).

We've nailed down the content necessary for the various sections, so Andrew will start banging out video. I've got to come up with some sort of control system for the projection devices (10 of 'em!), so I'll be busy. Hopefully, I can get Cory to give me a hand.

I'm hoping that I have section 1 done before mid-week. That will feel like maintaining a sane schedule.


The board work continues...

... on the Arduino music board. This will be paired up with the "repression and self-presentation" sketch that I did as a proof-of-concept for user-determined improvisation (although probably not as my final project for the networks class), but is going to be an amazing thing nevertheless. I should get a chance to present my networks in class on Wednesday, and I'm going to see what people think about this being a useful direction to go.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Population Update!

Spent a little time this morning adding population support and feedback to the Mayan Water Storage system. It was cool because it produced a bunch of new variables for output - the population is a lagged mirror of storage amount, and the population stress level is a jittery cool output for something that might need to be more active.

Now I feel like this system is generating a good combination of related-but-different values for the next level of abstraction.

Side note: It wasn't until I inserted the population controls into the system that I realized some of my basic calculations were off by a factor of 10. I've mopped up the previous post, and changed the patch so it does what it is supposed to.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Noise effects on avian population and nesting success

I ran across an interesting little article in one of our local community magazines (the Highlander, Oct. 2010) describing the work of Clint Francis. He has performed some studies on the effects of industrial-type noise in avian nesting areas; his work was performed in Rattlesnake Canyon Wildlife Area in New Mexico, but is relevant because of the network issues that it reveals.

Tracking back from the article (which is somewhat detail-free), I was able to come across the paper written by Francis and others about the study. It is available at this link. This discusses the effects of natural gas wells (with noisy compressors) on the nesting habits, nesting success and avian diversity in the areas affected by the wells.

While previous studies have suggested that bird populations were harmed by noisy environments, these had mostly been focused on high-traffic areas with insufficient control mechanisms to prove that the noise was the issue. By using gas wells in remote areas, Francis was able to isolate the wells as the fundamental issue. He also got assistance from the owner of the wells in turning off the compressors for tracking of the birds, but the interruptions were slight, and he used a significant number of controls to make sure the study was sound.

Basically, the noise of the compressor was handled by some species of birds (especially those that were urban-adapted), allowing them to nest properly within the noise sphere of the compressor. However, the main predator of the area, the western scrub-jay, was unable to handle the sound of the device, and therefore never went within the noise range. This allowed the noise-accepting birds to nest without predation.

Of course, there is a negative aspect to this: it privileges the birds that are adapted to noise, and puts undo stress on species that cannot coexist with the noise. These species are overly subjected to predation, and therefore species diversity is reduced.

Interesting stuff. There is an obvious opportunity for sonification of something like this (maybe with location sensing arduinos or something). More on this to come, I'm sure...


Caribbean Trade and Slave Routes, and Parasitic Privateering

In search of another broken/lost network...

Spanish domination of the Caribbean and South American trade routes created a network of goods and human transfer, featuring finished goods and population transfer from Europe, and mined gold, silver and plunder from the Americas. In order to protect the ships transferring the goods (particularly the valuables sent back to Europe), the ships formed large convoys that sailed together.

Other countries, with smaller outposts in the Caribbean, developed other trade mechanisms, but these were not as lucrative as the precious metals gained by the Spanish. A semi-formalized privateering system was developed by the English and Dutch (both violently anti-Catholic, providing an psuedo-moral foundation for the action); this allowed the smaller, agriculturally-focused outposts to share in the valuables taken from South America.

Thus, we have a well-traveled network path presenting an accessible target to parasitic (and small-scale/low-cost) attack, providing a network for simulation. An interesting secondary angle is to look at the other import from Europe: disease. The disease brought from the Old World decimated the local indigenous populations, producing a shortage of workers for either agriculture or mining. This shortage was offset by the introduction of African slaves, largely managed by English, French and Dutch traders.

Another case where it is easy to over-simplify the model, but this is an interesting case where a primary network is seen to create both secondary and predatory networks.

Added note: If you are wondering where this one came from: I had a long drive from Denver to Minneapolis to attend the Spark Festival. The only way to survive these trips is to rely on books-on-CD. I stopped at the B&N on the way out of town, looking for a book I'd be interested but hadn't yet read. Ran across Pirate Latitudes, the posthumous release from Michael Crichton. I'd always found his work a guilty pleasure, so I bought the unabridged version, then hit the road. Since I'd just gotten out of the networks class, my head was seeing everything as a potential network.

Of course, the Pirate Caribbean seemed like one heck of a network, and I ended up sketching the basic idea on a napkin perched on the dashboard. Further reading pointed to the interrelation with the slave trade, and the deed was done. Of course, I have no idea of how this could possibly end up as more than a map/sketch...


Monday, October 11, 2010

Nano Network - Arbuscular Mycorrhiza

I needed to get in a "nano" network for Wednesday. What better way to do that then to use symbiotic fungi (Arbuscular Mycorrhiza) as a way to pointing out the networking process among plants and fungi.

There are three stages of AM Fungi (AMF) development:

Germination: Germination of the fungi spore requires the proper soil conditions, but this can be reduced or eliminated by excess phosphorus, and improved by detection of potential host exudates.

Hyphal Growth: If no host is immediately found, the fungus will begin to expand in several ways. First, it creates hyphae to help extend the search. These hyphae "seek out" plant hosts. Likewise, needy hosts will send out chemical signals to be intercepted by these hyphae (chemotoxis).

Symbiosis: When an AMF reaches a host plant, the host creates an infection system so the fungus has immediate access to the vascular system of the PC. The host plant then uses chemical signals to the AMF to prevent it from going "too far" during its integration into the plant's structure.

The symbiotic exchange between the two lifeforms is mutually supportive.

The plant gains:
- phosphorus (especially in phosphorus-poor soils)
- a lower pH in the rhyzosphere
- control of nearby bacteria
- improved soil conditions

The Arbuscular Mycorrhiza gains:
- carbon, water and other nutrients
- host support for further reproduction

This symbiotic relationship is very widespread, and provides support for plants in difficult soil circumstances. It also appears to be important for biodiversity, creating a secondary network of AMF support for inter-species eco-management.

Simulation Possibilities

The simulation option that jumps to mind is something that parallels the "seeking out" of the hyphae, looking for chemical signals, then following them to the host. The fact that there is cellular change when the AMF meets a host plant points to this being a connection of high value. There is also the population aspects, where germination doesn't occur well if there are no plants, and plants may grow poorly without an active AMF population.

This needs further thought, but it appears to be useful for both a graphic simulation and a sonification opportunity.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Repression and Self-Presentation

Sketch-only, based on:

"Repression and Self-Presentation: When Audiences Interfere with Self-Deceptive Strategies." Baumeister, Roy F, Journal of personality and social psychology, May 1992 (Vol 62, Issue 5).

I ran across this article in the Penrose Full Text search looking for something that might give me some insight into the neural processes of a stage artist receiving feedback from an audience. Instead, I ran across this article that discussed private vs. public image, self-presentation (the efforts one takes to appear to be as one would like to be seen) and repression (self-delusional misrepresentation of ones appearance).

Of course, the psychological aspect of this depend on how much you are in self-denial, and the extent that you try to self-present as different from your actual self. Repressors, it turns out, expect positive feedback, are somewhat mystified by neutral feedback, but have a significant reaction to negative feedback; the negative assessments are retained at a high level in memory, and the subjects spend a significant amount of time viewing the negative feedback as they try to alter their self-presentation to match the desired outcome.

Simulation Possibilities

There is something very interesting here, and I might try to revisit it with the Arduino/music project, but it is a little too deep for an off-the-cuff software sketch. One way to consider this: in a "learning system" model, use feedback from the listener to change the storage and sort order of preferred phrases. Using the model described above, positive feedback could have modest effect, neutral feedback could produce more effect, but negative feedback would have the most effect - possibly even forcing the generation of new test phrases (simulating the change in self-presentation).