A Cognitive Panorama

Understanding in Orchestrated Situation Spaces

Heiner Benking designed a means of conceptually categorising data and information from various fields the same way, called a cognitive panorama. Cognitive landscapes can be seen as spacial scaffoldings to help find and order what we know and what we don't know, in different representations, languages or media. The combination of the physical, contextual, and semantic space (3Space/Time), bridges object, subject, and context in one common searchable schema (global index). The Panorama design is based on the concept of space-scapes, or deep structured orders, which can be explored and approached with different lenses/perspectives/emphasis/-selections. It is necessary to point out that the leading metaphor is a 3-dimensional realm which can be embodied and filled, and therefore the term landscape (or physical model) best describes a (deep) map which invites an embodied experience of language. To underline the theme of this conference, the Panorama is indeed a NEW SPACE (a new idea) for individuals, culture and society. It makes use of Human Potential to visit and share spaces and places - in the abstract sense - positions, situations, and meanings.

The guiding idea is the agreed upon (survey) layout, and to enter conceptually into the synthetic, visualised structures. As an example, a crystal cell framework will help us to visit and discuss scales, positions, proportions and consequences in the ubiquitous requested participatory mode is described elsewhere (see references above). By mental mobility and imagination we can make use of the assimilation potential of visual access and ignite creativity by transforming and transporting (core) knowledge along and across scales. As we need some common frameworks and understanding for the recently inaugurated Multi-Lingual Information Society (MLIS), a paradigm shift toward simplicity can be envisioned in the resonance between coexisting representation, like knowledge -trees, - spaces, or -spirals. A society consisting of many cultures, namely the recent cyberculture, needs to address not only the ubiquitous acclaimed information explosion, under-use, and good or bad manipulation of data and knowledge. To counter this lost-in-'space' syndrome, my remedy is to adopt a common spacial (embodied)/relational/conceptual methodology. Let everybody tell their own story, but let us look for common metaphors and context.

Heiner Benking was invited as a Creative Member of the Club of Budapest in the light of Ervin Laszlo, et. al.'s just- completed book, 'Changing Visions: Human Cognitive Maps - Past, Present, and Future'. In this book Michael Gazzaniga's (1985) postulates an interpreter which was called transformer and translator in earlier works of the author. It is the central "context-space" called a Blackbox or miracle cube (German Zauberwuerfel), which allows the integration of sensory information, inner and outer space, into one coherent (picture) map. The PANORAMA can be seen as a bridge between literal, figurative-metaphorical contextual, and physical landscapes of meaning, allowing us to share also information beyond 'meso- scale'. 'Changing Visions' elaborates a top-down approach to patterns of information or 'anticipatory schemata' (see also Neisser 1976 in 'Cognition and Reality'). Exactly such a top-down search, zooming in on given structures or frames, comprises the conceptual superstructure of the Panorama. Such a targeted, conceptual approach, able to map even lateral or diagonal thinking as 'image schemas', as George Lakoff called metaphors, can be seen complementary to (blind), automated, full-text search. For Lakoff these 'image schemas' are embodied spatial relations, for example a container schema, as a bounded region in space. In the Panorama we can map, outline, merge, and morph such schemas, as they have topological and orientational properties. 'Changing Visions' is recommended not only as a Primer, but also to help realise the basic benefits of a natural-science-based evolutionary cognitive map (The New Evolutionary Paradigm, Loye 1990). These benefits are: 1) improved forecasting, 2) improved interventional guides, 3) participatory rather than authoritarian problem-solving, and 4) providing clearer long-term goals and humanistic images. To address such wide objectives, the author has set out to work in fields such as: education, knowledge organisation, ethics and governance. Seeing a bigger picture gives rise to bigger responsibilities, but also, 'the more we gaze', to more humility.

Participant statement: (see also conference homepage)

Culture Committee, COUNCIL OF EUROPE,
Prague, 19 - 23 November 1996