Zooming is vital. Focus on a specific narrow case. Then step back and look at the big picture. Return to a close-up, and now cut even tighter to a microscopic level of tactical detail. Next pull away to consider the wide-angle strategic overview.

A computer map-making program pauses to "build pyramids" — precomputed snapshots at varying resolutions — so a user can zoom quickly and efficiently. The HashLIFE algorithm constructs pyramids in an artificial spacetime, to leap with blazing speed across billions of generations in Conway's LIFE cellular automaton. An experimental "zoomable user interface" called PAD++ is designed to let a person navigate gracefully through complex information spaces (descendant projects, still struggling to escape from the lab, are "Jazz" and "Piccolo"). And fractals, those fascinating wiggles, show infinite detail at all degrees of magnification.

Reality: a never-ending series of scale changes ...

(see also TopDownBottomUp (16 May 1999), FocusAndFanout (11 Dec 1999), TufteThoughts (18 Dec 2000), HintHint (12 Dec 2001), FractalFeynman (30 Jan 2003), MindChildren (17 Apr 2003), ... )

TopicProgramming - TopicScience - TopicPersonalHistory - 2004-02-21

(correlates: DeadBeginnings, SmallNumberIllusions, MudAndCrystals, ...)