Archive for the 'navigation' Category

Address of a location in a boundary less world

March 15, 2015

If we are interested in a border less world, what kind of address we shall give to a friend who wants to visit? Or deliver a letter to someone?

Currently the postal departments all over the world use a very hierarchical way of locating a place.  First we name a country, then a state, district, town, street, building and if you live in an apartment, the flat number, and then of course person’s name. All this sounds very logical and politically correct.  But in a world where there are several possessed boundaries.  When such political boundaries do not exist, how would you locate yourself?

In the current modern techno-savvy world, we can simply use latitude and longitude of the place. Perfect! But the lat-long numbers are  difficult to remember.

If we link lat-long to a landmark, and if the landmark has a unique number, and if the landmark is not a political boundary, such as e.g. a tree that lives longer than most buildings and roads we build, we have a better system of locating ourselves.

For example, I can say that I work close to tree 355, live close to tree 400.  We can also give directions, e.g. turn right at tree 320, stop opposite tree 455.  Since there are many many trees the numbers will go on increasing, which may become difficult to remember.

We recently started a citizen science project to map the trees, map all the trees, in India. It is in this context that I realized that the platform that we have built assigning serial numbers to the trees and to the planting sites.  Then it occurred to me we can use these numbers as another way of giving address to ourselves and the sites we inhabit.

tree 51

tree 51 at metaStudio

I meet visitors at my office and eat my lunch, drink tea/coffee at tree 51 of http://trees.metastudio.org/.

If you want to create such landmarks and try to grab a smaller easy to remember number for your address, join at http://trees.metaStudio.org/ and map your tree anywhere in India.  If you live in any other part of the world, please send us a request by naming the locality where you want to create a landmark tree, we will create a tree mapping site for you.

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GNOWSYS Mode for Semantic Web

October 25, 2009

Since I could not go to the 8th International Semantic Web Conference ISWC 2009 to present our contribution,  and also to the Workshop on Collaborative Construction, Management and Linking of Structured Knowledge ), I have uploaded the video of the presentation.  The reasons for not being able to go to the conference are posted in my earlier blog post.

The papers are available from the Semantic Web archives and the CEUR site.

More about GNOWSYS-mode from the gnowledge lab’s site.

a navigator applet for large documents and sites

March 26, 2007

I am not happy with the way how we write and browse electronic documents. I think that the design of the word processors are responsible for this. (I will not elaborate about this here, but will write about this issue later.) Though , I like structured documentation, like LaTeX, I do not like the way such documents are presented, particularly while reading them on the screen. Most applications kept in mind the printed page as an outcome, and hence may not have payed much attention to alternatives the new technology offers.

With this view in mind, I keep on hacking (exploring new possibilities), to see if I can come up with an alternative. The other day I came up with the following idea.

document navigator

The diagram above is a navigator of a document that has four chapters. Except the fourth chapter the other three are further divided into sections and sub-sections. Since the navigator is laid horizontally, the document’s subdivisions are first divided with a vertical separator, and then the next sub-division is made by a horizontal separator. This way the structure of the given docuement will be represented.Second, by displaying each component in a different color, we can provide visual differentiation of the document parts.

Then comes the problem of navigation. In order to navigate the complex document, we need to use only the four arrow keys: up, down, left and right. The keys, up and down will be used to change the level, say from sub-section to section or sub-section to sub-subsection, respectively. The keys, right and left will be used for moving from one section to other and will circle among the siblings only. Thus, the entire complex document can be accessed with very little effort.


This navigator also serves the purpose of a table of contents of the document. Depending on the current position, an application developer can display the current cell in a different color, with the title of the current section displayed just below the navigator, followed by the content of the section.

This way, a very small device like a mobile phone or PDA can display a very large and complex document in a convenient way.

On a normal desktop, since horizontal spread of the screen is more than the vertical, it is good to have the same navigator oriented vertically as shown below.

vertical document navigator

The motivation for this navigator came in while developing the gnowledge.org portal. For example, if you look at Cell (Biology) link at the portal, the links spread vertically displaying the hierarchy. Since each link has very little to show, the page is overwhelmed by several links, with very little text to read. Normally, most application developers use collapse and expand the tree to solve this problem. Even this will take away the space and will make the page divided into several narrow columns. In order to solve this problem, I came up with this idea. No one knows if this will be liked by people. Only usage and feedback will tell if this is a good navigation model.

If this model of a document is available to the author, at the time of creating the document, then it will force the author to use the ‘healthy’ practice of writing structured documents. This model is also useful for collaborative authoring environments. And as mentioned above, it is certainly good for handhelds, which need not download the entire document into the PDA.

As mentioned in the beginning, this model provides a non-traditional authoring and presentation model for structured documents, but based on the legacy ideas on structured documentation.

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