What exactly is Viola referring to when he asks the reader “Will There Be Condominiums in Data Space?” By that question I mean, what does a condominium have to do with data space? After over-analyzing numerous definitions of the term, I discovered a few reoccurring words that must relate to what Viola is asking. A condominium is “a large property complex” that is “divided into individual units.” Now I’m wondering if the large property complex part refers to this idea of “Data space” – “a conceptual geometry, theoretically infinite, within which various forms may be created, manipulated, extended and destroyed.” Are we going to divide up the data space like a condominium or are we going to navigate around this data space as a whole?
If you can follow me here, then Viola’s three structures to describe patterns of information will make sense. You can take the most popular structure called “branching” wherein the navigator takes the top to bottom approach. This makes most sense to me because it is linear and the exact path to follow is quite obvious. Viola also highlights the fact that this system is utilized in our education system; it’s very predetermined and definitely easier than the alternatives…but easier is almost never better if you ask me. A new diagram called the “matrix” structure is an alternative way of viewing information, wherein the viewer can enter at any point, move in any direction, at any speed. Unlike branching, this structure is not linear because the navigator can take any path through the information however it maintains the idea of parameters. This idea is not sustained in the last structure called the “schizo” or “spaghetti” model which gives way to the concept that “all directions are equal but all are not equal. Everything is irrelevant and significant at the same time.” It’s easy to get lost in the randomness of this structure, it’s actually impossible not to. I can relate this structure to a lot of the readings we had, especially “medium is the message” and the big question in McCloud’s Time Frames, is linear progression really necessary?
I don’t think Viola is emphasizing holistic over parts or vice versa, I think he is focusing on this idea that you can’t understand what you’re looking at unless you know what you’re NOT looking at. In other words, when analyzing a piece of information, keep in mind what you are NOT analyzing because often times, what is missing could play a big part in understanding.
So many of the readings we have done emphasize viewer participation. The uniqueness of each individuals’ thought process is essential to holistic and thorough learning, to the greater good of society. Does that make each and everyone of us the “condominiums of data space”? I think so. and I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. Viewing information in a linear, parts-focused, condominium-like manner is not helpful but viewing information in our unique way, without a set of predetermined steps IS helpful. I think that is what a lot of these writers are trying to get at with their essays and I think that is what Dr. C is attempting here with this class.