======================================================================= Cybernetics in the 3rd Millennium (C3M) -- Volume 2 Number 6, Jun. 2003 Alan B. Scrivener --- www.well.com/~abs --- mailto:abs@well.com =======================================================================

Report from the 2002 International SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition
on Graphics and Interactive Techniques, San Antonio

~ or ~

Steers, Beers and the Nth Dimension

A lot of my time recently is going into preparations for the 30th International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, also known as SIGGRAPH 2003 San Diego. ( www.siggraph.org/s2003/ ) This long-lived, prestigious, cutting edge, and recently huge conference has never come to my home town of San Diego before, though I've attended it many times in the last 20 years in places like Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Anaheim, Las Vegas, Orlando, and recently quite a few times in Los Angeles. The thing I'm most involved with is chairing the SIGKIDS exhibition ( san-diego.siggraph.org/sigkids/ ) being produced by our local San Diego chapter. ( san-diego.siggraph.org/ ) We just recently completed a demonstration SIGKIDS project as well, working with local 4th graders. ( san-diego.siggraph.org/sigkids/PtLoma/gps_dem.html ) This conference is only four weeks away, and now I find that I have a backlog of reporting on previous conferences in my writing queue. Last year's conference was in San Antonio, Texas. ( www.siggraph.org/s2002/ ) I decided to repurpose my report from San Antonio 2002 for this e-Zine because last year I seemed to learn a lot more about systems than graphics. But that does not surprise me. For a while I have found 3D computer graphics to be a field where systems research sometimes thrives, often hidden from view (or ignored, depending on your perspective).

Why 3D and Systems Are Connected

After much observation and thought I've determined that there are three main reasons why 3D graphics and systems theory are linked. First, much of the math requires the same or similar tools, especially matrix and vector manipulation. Second, from its birth in the 1950s until the 1990s the field of 3D graphics (which was very expensive) was supported by -- in addition to military flight simulation and Computer Aided Design (CAD) -- scientific visualization (sci viz) applications. I remember in 1987 the National Science Foundation (NSF) made a big push for increased sci viz, and began funding grants for the work. A lot of the same people were working on chaos theory, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), and Finite Element Mesh (FEM) techniques -- all right in the middle of systems theory. These were the users keeping the big players in graphics and high-end computing in business: Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI), Cray, Sun, HP, Convex, Stellar, etc., back when regular folks were using green-screen DOS and black-and-white Mac systems. I also remember in 1988 a pioneer named Robert Abel predicting computer graphics would replace optical effects in the FX world, and few believed him. Since then 3D graphics -- and the SIGGRAPH conference -- have been largely taken over by entertainment applications, like special effects and games. They didn't become cost effective until about ten years ago, when SIGGRAPH 1993 in Anaheim had a huge "Jurassic Park" ride inside the huge SGI booth. Which brings us to the third reason: even among the show-biz users there is a need for systems theory, they just don't know it. What I have found is that people ask for graphics because they don't know how to ask for simulations. They'll say they want 3D graphics of a jeep, say. The graphics people use a 3D modeling program or maybe a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program to design a jeep. But then the user will ask, "Why don't the wheels turn?" The modeler will make the wheels into separate objects (children objects of the jeep body object) and apply a "rotation about axis" transformation to each, to make that happen. Then the user will ask, "Why don't the front wheels turn back and forth when I move the steering wheel?" More work on building the hierarchy into the display list. This is called getting the "kinematics" right. Then, "Why can't I drive it?" Now a programmer must get involved, to write a driving simulation. "Why doesn't it bounce off objects it hits?" Now they have to go find a physicist, to model the collisions correctly. This is called getting the "dynamics" right. "Why doesn't the hood crumple when I hit a tree?" Now they have to find a more advanced physicist, and programmer to work with them in most cases, to do a Finite Element Mesh of the hood and then run an iterated simulation over that FEM to calculate the chaotic crumpling effects. If you want to learn how to do this you get a PhD in physics, but if you want to read the latest papers on this research, you get the SIGGRAPH proceedings. There you find the simulation science is hiding behind the graphics. In the last ten years the "graphics" gurus have learned how to simulate cracking matter for car crash scenes, learned how to simulate rippling cloth for realistic clothing and curtains, learned how to simulate smoke and flames for fires and explosions, and even learned how to simulate hair growth and motion for werewolf movies. So that's thy I am reporting on a graphics conference to a bunch of cybernetics fans. Here is how the rest of this issue is organized: * San Antonio * SIGGRAPH Details * Jim Blinn * Alfred Inselberg * The Espada Dam and Aqueduct

San Antonio

"The steamship and the railroad created the centralized metropolis. The motor car dismembered it into suburbia. The jet plane simply by-passes it, leaving it to become a ghetto." -- Marshall McLuhan, 1970 "Culture Is Our Business" ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/007045437X/hip-20 ) I began coming down with a cold on the flight out of San Diego, and then the next morning I had to sit through an all-day mandatory meeting while feverish, so afterwards I went back to my room and slept for a day, missing a big party thrown by the SIGGRAPH Professional Chapters committee, held at a complex of night clubs in the old downtown train station called "Sunset Station." ( www.sunset-station.com/main.php?page=history.htm ) When I finally came to I went off in search of vitamin C, latte, and a disposable camera, and in the process began to learn my way around San Antonio. I followed the railroad tracks to find the oldest roads. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/10_08A.JPG ) Broadway was such an old road, and I followed it north and south. this lead me to some of the oldest houses around. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/21_19A.JPG ) It became clear that the city was on a slant, with south downhill and north uphill. Way up on the north side I found a huge, beautiful football stadium at Alamo Heights High School with a breathtaking view of the city. (I hear tell high school football is really big in Texas.) In a Starbucks I overheard a woman say, "Isn't it nice to finally have a Sunday when it isn't raining?" I remembered that I'd seen on the news there'd been major flooding in San Antonio a few weeks previously. ( txwww.cr.usgs.gov/flood_events.asp?event_id=1 ) ( www.floodsafety.com/documentaries/j2002/#a ) I drove where I thought a flood would be and sure enough found some of the mucky remains of downed brush in a flooded park, looking like it had all been spray-painted gray. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/25_24A.JPG ) Returning the downtown area, where the convention center and Alamo create a kind of "tourist/conventioneer ghetto," I was delighted with the way that canals bring the river through shops, hotels and attractions, in what they call the "Riverwalk." ( www.sanantonioriverwalk.com/ ) The river trail was one floor below street level, and much cooler on hot days. It lead into an indoor glassed-in shopping center called "River Center Mall," which had a bit of river running through it. ( www.shoprivercenter.com/ ) Little boats made a cruise through the district giving tours. ( www.sarivercruise.com/ ) At one point walking through the district I passed a Hooters restaurant and saw through the window that the big plasma TV was showing the movie "Hoosiers." I wondered what this could mean. I really enjoyed the food in San Antonio. I discovered a regional soft drink called "Big Red" that I began drinking by the case. At the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum (318 E. Houston St.) I met a bartender who also loved the stuff. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/2167352600.jpg ) Bill Miller BBQ (4500 Broadway) impressed me so much, before I'd even taken a bite, that I took a picture of the food. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/26_25A.JPG ) At Tom's Ribs #2 (2535 NW Loop 410) I bought some of the BBQ sauce to bring home. (I also talked to a waiter who had a 3-year-old daughter, and told him to take her to see sigKids.) And I kept hearing so much about the great chicken fried steak to be found in San Antonio, Austin and the Texas hill country, that I finally tried it at Pig Stand #29 (1508 Broadway). ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/33_11A_2.JPG ) It had egg whites in the batter, and was so light and tasty that it spoiled me and ruined the California version forever after. But somehow my footsteps kept bringing me back to "Steers and Beers" in the River Center Mall. It was convenient, quick, very Texas Tourist, and I attended one organized lunch there as well. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/2167352590.jpg ) Terminating the River Walk on the south end was the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, where the water flowed out of a spring-like fountain into the canals. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/20_18A.JPG ) Beyond that was Hemisphere Plaza, and Tower of the Americas looming over the Texas hills. ( hotx.com/hot/hillcountry/sa/tours/hemisfair/pano/towerqtvr.html The convention center was a beautiful building. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/13_11A.JPG ) And from bridges over the exhibits area of SIGGRAPH you could see the river tours floating by. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/23_22A.JPG ) I really like the southwestern touches. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/12_10A.JPG ) The lampshades inside the convention center were works of art. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/san_antonio_lamp.JPG )


But finally I had to stop rubbernecking and pay attention to the conference. One of my main goals in attending was to check out the sigKIDS event there, and so I did. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/2167352608.jpg ) Later I found an article in the San Antonio Express-Telegram about it. ( archives.newsbank.com/ar-search/we/Archives?p_action=search&p_perpage=20&p_theme=SAEC&p_product=SAEC&s_search_type=keyword&p_text_base=sigkids&p_maxdocs=200&p_field_psudo-sort-0=psudo-sort&p_sort=YMD_date%3AD&p_field_Source-0=Source&p_field_date-0=YMD_date&p_params_date-0=date%3AB%2CE&p_text_date-0=-1qzY&p_field_YMD_date-0=YMD_date&p_field_YMD_date-0=YMD_date&p_params_YMD_date-0=date%3AB%2CE&xcal_ranksort=&xcal_useweights=no&%5B+Search+%5D.x=72&%5B+Search+%5D.y=17 ) One of the first things I saw was the "Emerging Tech" exhibit. ( www.siggraph.org/s2002/conference/etech/ ) It had some great quotes on the wall outside, and I really liked this one: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny....'" -- Isaac Asimov My friend Dave Warner and his staff from Mindtel were demonstrating Knowledge Fusion technologies, and the Cyberarium Knowledge Fountain. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/16_14A.JPG ) ( www.mindtel.com ) I was very impressed with "Physiological Reaction and Presence in Stressful Virtual Environments." ( www.siggraph.org/s2002/conference/etech/physio.html ) This group of researchers showed that if you step off a cliff in Virtual Reality (VR) it is very stressful to the body, even though you know you won't fall. (I never got a demo though; it was always "down" when I came by.) A group of Japanese researchers had a "Light Saber" kind of physical interface that had broken down, and they dismantled it on the carpet and tried in vain to fix it. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/14_12A.JPG ) Moving on to the art shows, which I always get value out of, several things stood out. There was a group of wandering art "scavengers" who called themselves "Jackals." The wore cute jackal ears and masks, and when I saw them they were allegedly pulling data out of the ubiquitous SIGGRAPH wireless network and distorting it into audible, artistic noises. Their write-up in the art catalog said: The Jackals live on the outskirts of the metropolis, watching, collecting, repurposing what they can to construct a new reality of techno-art. They will arrive with only enough supplies to survive. The nature of the work depends on what can be scavenged. Kenneth A. Huff ( www.siggraph.org/s2002/conference/art/art_work.html ) Looking at some of the other projects on Huff's web site, I think this project may have something to say about the marginal role most artists have in our society. Another thought-provoking work was "Homo Indicium" by Ioannis Yessios. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/2167352529.jpg ) It looked like it was set up to capture information about each visitor, both demographic and genetic. The artist's statement says: Homo Indicium started with the question, "What can a machine know about a person?" Every day, machines continue to compile digital identities. These identities influence countless decisions made by both humans and machines. The question is "Is this information enough to truly know someone?" Homo Indicium allows its audience to interact with information-based identities as a way of exploring questions raised by this process. ( www.siggraph.org/artdesign/gallery/S02/onfloor/yessios/1artiststatement.html ) In the Electronic Theater, the big film and video show of cutting-edge works from the last year, I really like a music video for musical group Super Furry Animals, called "It's Not the End of the World," by Duran Duboi. ( www.siggraph.org/publications/video-review/sig2002/141.html ) I wrote down my predictions of what we'd see in the Electronic Theater while waiting for it to start: * Ice Age * Jimmy Neutron * Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron * Monsters, Inc. * Minority Report * Spiderman * Star Wars Episode II -- Attack of the Clones * The Time Machine * Clockstoppers * Lilo and Stitch * Grand Theft Auto * Treasure Planet * Rolie Polie Olie * Lord of the Rings * Harry Potter * Stuart Little 2 Of these, the only five to appear were: * Spiderman * Star Wars Episode II -- Attack of the Clones * The Time Machine * Lord of the Rings * Harry Potter I took this as a sign that graphics is becoming so mainstream it is invisible. You can buy the entire evening's show at: ( www.siggraph.org/publications/video-review/SVR.html ) As I mentioned above, I first went to SIGGRAPH in 1983, and saw it begin to change in 1993 into a movie and entertainment technology show. Future conferences may have to be held in or near LA to retain the core audience. These days everybody seems to be an animator. They pay them peanuts, but they send them to SIGGRAPH. I heard young guys from New Zealand at vendor Newtek's party (in a bar called Howl at the Moon) trying to pick up some cute young Brazilian women by saying they'd worked on "Matrix Reloaded," and they probably had. (Recently at an LA SIGGRAPH event a speaker asked how many people were artists, and how many were on the management side, for a show of hands. He didn't even mention programmers. Twenty years ago SIGGRAPH was 90% programmers -- today in the world most animators live in all that's left of programmers is "shader writers.") So, being that this is an animator's show, I went to some animator events. At a panel discussion called "Yoda and Beyond: Creating the Digital Cast of Star Wars Episode II" I learned something very interesting about Lucasfilms. If memory serves only one of the panelists had worked on Episode I, and none of them had worked on Epodes IV, V and VI. I realized that George Lucas pretty much starts over on each movie with a new team. This means Lucasfilms doesn't really exist the way, say, Paramount or Universal do. When George dies, the estate will sell off the effects unit Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) (probably to Disney who will run it into the ground and shutter it), the game unit Lucasarts to somebody like Sony or Microsoft, and the Skywalker Ranch property in Marin County that looks like a vineyard to some real estate speculator. Lucasfilms will not survive. This fulfills the prophecy I heard from Steve Jobs and others around 1995 that Hollywood was fundamentally a feudal system, with engineers just like artisans in guilds, one step above peasants, and that's what it would always be. (Somehow the early developers thought they could become royals!) On a lighter note, I learned that Yoda's face was originally modeled after Albert Einstein's. I also went to "What's Up, Doc? A Fond Remembrance of Chuck Jones," which had nothing to do with 3D graphics except that animators like to learn about other animators. But, hey, I'm a fan, too. There I learned that Chuck Jones got the idea for Wiley Coyote from a passage in "Roughing It" by Mark Twain. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0451524071/hip-20 ) ...if you start a swift-footed dog after him, you will enjoy it ever so much- especially if it is a dog that has a good opinion of himself, and has been brought up to think he knows something about speed. The coyote will go swinging gently off on that deceitful trot of his, and every little while he will smile a fraudful smile over his shoulder that will fill that dog entirely full of encouragement and worldly ambition, and make him lay his head still lower to the ground, and stretch his neck further to the front, and pant more fiercely, and stick his tail out straighter behind, and move his furious legs with a yet wilder frenzy, and leave a broader and broader, and higher and denser cloud of desert sand smoking behind him, and marking his long wake across the level plain! And all this time the dog is only a short twenty feet behind the coyote, and to save the soul of him he cannot understand why it is that he cannot get perceptibly closer; and he begins to get aggravated, and it makes him madder and madder to see how gently the coyote glides along and never pants or sweats or ceases to smile; and he grows still more and more incensed to see how shamefully he has been taken in by an entire stranger, and what an ignoble swindle that long, calm, soft-footed trot is; and next he notices that he is getting fagged, and that the coyote actually has to slacken speed a little to keep from running away from him- and then that town dog is mad in earnest, and he begins to strain and weep and swear, and paw the sand higher than ever, and reach for the coyote with concentrated and desperate energy. This "spurt" finds him six feet behind the gliding enemy, and two miles from his friends. And then, in the instant that a wild new hope is lighting up his face, the coyote turns and smiles blandly upon him once more, and with a something about it which seems to say: "Well, I shall have to tear myself away from you, bub -- business is business, and it will not do for me to be fooling along this way all day" -- and forthwith there is a rushing sound, and the sudden splitting of a long crack through the atmosphere, and behold that dog is solitary and alone in the midst of a vast solitude! It makes his head swim. He stops, and looks all around; climbs the nearest sand mound, and gazes into the distance; shakes his head reflectively, and then, without a word, he turns and jogs along back to his train, and takes up a humble position under the hindmost wagon, and feels unspeakably mean, and looks ashamed, and hangs his tail at half-mast for a week. And for as much as a year after that, whenever there is a great hue and cry after a coyote, that dog will merely glance in that direction without emotion, and apparently observe to himself, "I believe I do not wish any of that pie." Back at Steers and Beers I went to the Student Volunteer Luncheon to meet and greet, and one volunteer who was a local told me she never goes downtown. Her life is in the suburbs out beyond the 410 loop. An old colleague talked me into joining the Computer Graphics Pioneers, and attending their dinner. It was nice, I got to see some famous luminaries (famous at least to the 3d world) who had made history; but I did notice they weren't making much new history. From there I went back down to the SIGGRAPH art gallery for a "Wearable Computers Fashion Show," which was done by ambitious 19-year-olds and was quite avante garde. This at last brings me to the serious academic content I gleaned from the conference.

Jim Blinn

Jim Blinn is hugely popular at SIGGRAPH, because he's friendly, he's funny, he's a genius, he's done some great stuff, and he shares his knowledge. In the past he's created classics like the Voyager flyby animation, "Mechanical Universe," "Project Mathematics" and his column in "IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications," "Jim Blinn's Corner" (now collected into a book). ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1558603875/hip-20 ) Most of this was done in his California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) days, but since the late 1990s he's been working for Microsoft, and developing a new visual notation for the math involved in 3D graphics. His talk in 2002 was a report on this work, which is now on-line in PDF form, called "Using Tensor Diagrams to Represent and Solve Geometric Problems." (Warning: the following link goes straight to a huge PDF file.) ( research.microsoft.com/~blinn/UsingTensorDiagrams.pdf ) It was an update on his talk in 2001, also now on-line. ( terra.cs.nps.navy.mil/DistanceEducation/online.siggraph.org/2001/Courses/cd1/cnav/cnavc18.html ) If you don't feel like wading through all this verbiage just yet, here is a quick look at one of his diagrams: ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/blinn.gif ) Following some ideas developed by Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman, Blinn develops a way of visually representing matrix and vector multiplication in 3 and 4 dimensions. "Why four dimensions?" you may ask. Well, as you may or may not know, a vector is an ordered set of numerical values that travel around together and usually have some kind of geometric interpretation. The number of values in the vector is its dimension. A 3-vector can represent any point in space, as X, Y and Z values. A matrix is a rectangle of numbers that can, among other things, stand for a set of multiplications to "transform" one vector into another, for example to perform a rotation about an axis. A 3x3 matrix can perform any rotation. However, if you take all the things people like to do with 3D data: rotate it, scale it, and move it about (i.e., "translate" it), you can't fit them all into a 3x3 matrix. The algebra fails, and the equations have no solution. But if you use a 4x4 matrix, something magic happens. You turn each 3D XYZ vector into a 4D XYZW vector, with W equal to one. After the matrix multiplication you divide each new X, Y and Z by the new W. The result gives the correct answer for all needed 3D geometric transformations, and a bunch we'll probably never need as well. I still don't fully understand it after using it for 30 years, except to say that the extra dimension gives you enough "elbow room" to get everything done. (Think of how hard it would be to turn a canoe around in a skinny closet.) This system is called "4x4 homogenous matrix form." So Blinn wanted to make homogenous matrix calculations easier to do, so computers can do them faster, so 3D graphics can look better. He was looking for ways to skip, combine or simplify steps in the arithmetic of 3D graphics computations. He found that by representing the calculations with diagrams he could more easily find patterns that allowed him to perform these simplifications. First Blinn converted standard matrix form into an alternate form invented by Einstein for use in quantum physics calculations, called "Einstein Index Notation." Then he borrowed ideas from the "Feynman Diagram" to draw this alternate form as a diagram of little circles and arrows. He represents a point or a line as a labeled circle with an arrow coming out. A transformation matrix is a labeled circle with an arrow going in and another going out. Each arrow represents an index, like i, j, and k, into a vector or matrix. With this notation Blinn has actually proved a few theorems, and made some non-trivial discoveries. (He has also worked on creating software to input and output these diagrams, and then use them to perform matrix math on graphics data.) The huge auditorium had hundreds of people listening, and dozens taking furious notes. I think these ideas will spread. The reason I am sharing this with you systems theorists is this: if you open up any modern textbook on linear control theory, such as "Control Systems Design: An Introduction To State-Space Methods" (1986) by Bernard Friedland, you will see matrix operations similar to those used in 3D graphics. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0070224412/hip-20 ) But instead of standing for the arithmetic to be done to X, Y and Z values in a vector, these matrix coefficients stand for values in Ordinary Differential Equations (ODEs), that is, equations based on X, the rate of change of X ("X prime," or X'), the rate of change of rate of change of X (X'') and so on. If correctly set up, a matrix will define all future states of the deterministic system associated with that set of ODEs, given any initial condition. So I have a hunch. Here is my hunch: that applying Blinn's Tensor Diagrams to problems in linear control theory will yield some quick, non-trivial results. I'm too busy to work on this now. Anybody game?

Alfred Inselberg

The other major talk I went to was "Multidimensional Visualization With Applications to Multivariate Problems" by Alfred Inselberg. ( www.siggraph.org/s2002/conference/courses/crs4.html ) He explained how by displaying high-dimensional data in parallel columns instead as perpendicular sides of a cube, you can fit lots of dimensions in one display, and see trends. He also had software for manipulating this data, which allowed you to, sort, filter, and "lasso' data to find and analyze correlations. He explained how he'd analyzed high-dimensional maintenance data from Israeli Army jeeps and managed to sort the data out by different manufacturers. I was reminded of the awesome capabilities of Support Vector Machines (SVM) for sorting high-dimensional data, and wondered if there was a connection (or potential synergy). (See C3M vol. 2 num. 2 for more detail about SVMs.) I was also reminded of Dr. McCoy's medical status display in the sick bay of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise, on the U.S.A. TV show "Star Trek." ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/sickscan.jpg ) I realized after listening for a few minutes that I had met the speaker before. When I was working booth duty for AVS Inc. at SIGGRAPH 1993 in Anaheim, I was loaned to the IBM booth for a while. They had a competing product to AVS called IBM Data Explored (DX), and I was getting the stink-eye from the DX people, but this one IBM employee found I was from AVS and started telling me all about his new method of visualizing large dimensional data by making the coordinates parallel instead of perpendicular. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/mdg1.gif ) He was doing this research at the IBM Scientific Center in Santa Monica, California, but was having trouble getting the rest of IBM interested in using his work. The man was a missionary for this idea. Of course it was Alfred Inselberg. He gave me a copy of his paper, "Parallel Coordinates: A Tool for Visualizing Multivariate Relations" by Alfred Inselberg and Bernard Dimsdale, from "Human-Machine Interactive Systems" (1991). I was quite amazed that after rooting around for a while in my garage in a box of old, water-damaged papers from my AVS days I was able to find it again. Unfortunately it seems to be nowhere on the web. In fact, very little by Inselberg is on the web. I found a copy of "Parallel Coordinate Representations of Smooth Hypersurfaces" (1992) by Chao-Kuei Hung and Alfred Inselberg, in google.com's web page cache! There is also a place on the web where you can buy his new software package, Parallax. ( www.kdnuggets.com/software/parallax.html ) A nice summary of Inselberg's work and software, and related writings and tools, may be found at "the MIKY database, Information Visualization and Visualization Techniques" by Rika Furuhata, et. al. ( www.imv.is.ocha.ac.jp/~miky/04.htm ) As I researched Inselberg's work for this zine, I discovered he lived in San Diego for a while and worked at the Supercomputer Center. ( www.sdsc.edu ) His residency in SD overlapped with mine. I wish I'd known, and had taken advantage of the opportunity to hear him speak then.

The Espada Dam and Aqueduct

As the conference began to wind down, I felt like there was still something about San Antonio I didn't understand: why was it here in the first place? I'd gone to see the Alamo, which was a roofless mission ruin that Sam Houston thought had no strategic value. He told Davey Crockett and those guys to clear out, but they fought to the last man instead. I'd also learned that the Alamo was the northernmost in a string of missions. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/san_antonio_missions.JPG ) (This and other maps are from: www.nps.gov/saan/pphtml/maps.html ) I'd gone to see the southernmost mission, called Mission Espada, and it looked like an old stone and adobe ruin. Padres used to live there and they converted Indians to Catholicism, just like in California. I didn't learn much that was new. But my intuition lead me to persist. I remembered that I'd done a lot of research in California on the path of the old "El Camino Real," the King's Highway that connected all of the missions. I had to work on my own until a book on the topic came out in 2000, "California's El Camino Real and Its Historic Bells" by Max Kurillo, Erline M. Tuttle. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0070932653375/hip-20 ) One of the places where the path was easy to trace was where it was squeezed down, in the town of Capistrano Beach, by the sea to the west and the mountains to the east, to a narrow "notch" perhaps half a mile wide. ( www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?size=big&mapdata=jZ2g%2b%2fXW8V%2bKsLu2AnCqwqmv1qs6cuO0mzjuSjZMf%2ffCDIaG0VcxiFddfUGYoIRiEYXQiA6%2fg7vtcq7Fz3Ff7HbbzpqFqUeioNhhaeiWo4vegd4okblQGC1VZxDxEfyHaiucEy1b3ROKdbGJW8UiJGJnJQTrx%2f13ME41aAFhq%2fpFBdDp9z8zlXVgs9517ZqygwBh3hadeR02ryjAoQ%2fg6UzFPOR9woRoyDWQ%2b8lc0HmjJ3AXxWPnxl4Da%2bLdIvr0LJ7SqyPjSPJmmV1V2ygSVqIcGFsI%2fWHtpD7gPTrufl37xdgUbKudTJdepU7M31O1ZjbHO%2fxHbBe%2f%2beT76JQa5c%2bIOSemaRgkQjn5B%2bS1VQPO7brY7NFpy2K3Gb3GE6K%2b9RRMk3qb6qJIQLkeNqSYx7f4jXCBSvCaxRN4Xo3jg3PDdkJnkAu%2fUQ%3d%3d ) I was delighted when I discovered that California's current internet backbone, carried by fiber optic cable, follows the route of the El Camino Real almost exactly, and squeezes through this same notch along with the railroad, old highway, freeway, power lines, phone lines, gas lines, and every other kind of line connecting San Diego and Orange Counties. But then again, "The Silicon Valley Tarot" says the Missions and El Camino Real were California's "first network." ( www.sjgames.com/svtarot/net/elcaminoreal.html ) Remembering my conversation with the student volunteer who lived beyond the 410 loop, I drove all the way around that loop one evening, and ended up having dinner at a restaurant called The Magic Time Machine. ( magictimemachine.com/ ) I talked to several of the staff about the missions. They told me that all the 4th graders are taken there on a field trip (just like in California). One waiter said it was a great place for kids to hide from the chaperones, since it had so many old walls it was like a maze. The busboy told me there was an aqueduct there where you could see water flow uphill! ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/espada_dam.JPG ) I went back out to the southernmost mission and searched around until I found the old aqueduct. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/07_05A.JPG ) Of course it didn't run uphill; it was an optical illusion. But I discovered it was the oldest Spanish water course in the United States. ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/SG2002/03_01A.JPG ) In researching this zine I found that many conferences that come to San Antonio get the tour of the dam and aqueduct. For a random example, the 54th International Auctioneer's Conference and Show, ( www.auctioneers.org/education/sanantonio/tours/tours_7_11_03.html ) says on their web site: We will also visit Espada Dam. Completed in 1745, it still diverts water into an acequia madre (mother ditch). The water is carried over Sixmile Creek through Espada Aqueduct - the oldest Spanish aqueduct in the United States. Now, at last, I understood why San Antonio was here. The dams and waterworks made the missions possible, and they had built them one by one moving northward, uphill, until the last was the Alamo, and around that mission the city had formed. And these missions, like the ones in California, were connected to Mexico City, "two worlds away," by another branch of the El Camino Real. Later, back home, while visiting a local science museum, I found out that when you place a phone call from San Diego to Mexico City, it goes through San Antonio. There too the new fiber follows the old highway. (This was part of an exhibit funded by the Titan Corporation of San Diego, at the Rueben H. Fleet Science Center. www.rhfleet.org/site/exhibition/technovation/index.html ) ======================================================================= newsletter archives: www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/ ======================================================================= Privacy Promise: Your email address will never be sold or given to others. You will receive only the e-Zine C3M unless you opt-in to receive occasional commercial offers directly from me, Alan Scrivener, by sending email to abs@well.com with the subject line "opt in" -- you can always opt out again with the subject line "opt out" -- by default you are opted out. To cancel the e-Zine entirely send the subject line "unsubscribe" to me. I receive a commission on everything you purchase during your session with Amazon.com after following one of my links, which helps to support my research. ======================================================================= Copyright 2003 by Alan B. 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