Revisiting Equipotential Space
In 1970, Severino said that future spaces needed flexibility, continuity and articulation, digital spaced are just that. They are flexible in meaning, continuously carrying inhabitants/users from one region to another, and articulate themselves trough others and their environments.
The determining characteristics of Equipotential space are continuity, flexibility, and articulation. Instead of being planned for a few specific purposes, Equipotential space can be modulated at will for any purpose.
"In developing a new approach to deal with the problems described, we must clearly articulate a concept and begin applying and refining it on the level if the mass society,
This concept is Equipotential space. Special formulations in current usage proceed from a definition of space as a value and are concerned with it's geometrical characteristics.
Instead, the definition could be extended to cover changing patterns of relationships. The matrix in which these relationships exist can be called Equipotential space (27).
"The determining characteristics of Equipotential space are continuity, flexibility and articulation. Instead of space (?) planned for a few specific purposes, Equipotential space can be modulated at for any purpose" (27).
“A Japanese camera or a German car”, Serverino writes, “can function all over the world, regardless of local social, political or economic conditions. The same airplanes regularly serve all countries. Penicillin is equally useful for combating infections in India, Africa, and China, as well as in Europe”.
“In these instances, a certain task has to be preformed, a certain standard or result has been expected, and techniques and equipment have been developed to provide widely acceptable responses”.
“These responses are products of technology. They begin with the assumption that all peoples of the world share sameness, regardless of any local or historical factors” (27).
If, in 1970, Severino said that future spaces needed flexibility, continuity and articulation, digital spaced are just that. They are flexible in meaning, continuously carrying inhabitants/users from one region to another, and articulate themselves trough others and their environments.
I found that constructions of architectural space during this era (1970) from several authors attempt to create modular futuristic spaces as they conceive of technological effects of space.
Some of these spaces began to resemble spaceships, or pods --> interlocking places suited for either one number it occupants or many.
The issue here is that the future architectural spaces are not analog spaces. But are digital ones, and it us these digital spaces that are modular and resemble spaceships, protecting ys from the liminalitiyrs and harshness of outer space that is the Internet, vast interconnected architecture are only accessible hybceryaib jbtrfaced; and the architecture of rude interfaces us not being dnstructef by traditional architecture any longer --- buy rather programmers, interaction designers, software architects, salespeople ---> even those who inhabit this space.
In this way, Twitter functions as a Equipotential space, in that it can be modulated at will for any purpose (often more powerfully or far-reaching than that of analog space) because it has empty containers, restraints( places for meaning, hyper-textual capabilities, and broadcasting capabilities.
Renato Severino developed the terms 'Frame Units' and 'Function Units' to describe activity volume and functional capabilities. On Twitter, as can define both frame units and function units, the function being the buttons pressed, and the frame units bring what constrains the data to predictable flows and familiar structures.
"When the activity value is defined by the frame components and the basic supplying functions are supplied by function objects, the flexibility inherent in Equipotential Space is achieved" (27).
Twitter works well because Function Objects and Frame Components are in balance, but what occurs when The Function Objects outweigh Frame Components?
(In 2007, users began to see a glut of applications available to them on Facebook. These apps begin increasingly flooding their ability to interact with the interface, because they buried all real communication with repeated requests for user attention. This crises lasted for some time before Facebook compressed the requests and hid then behind a dialog box). When too many apps on Facebook entered the ecosphere/ecosystem, the Frame Components became strained because they had not been structured to withstand such force. In order to keep the system from collapsing under an almost cancerous bloat of Function Objects, the Frame Components had to be restructured.
In short, the architecture of the system had to be altered.
The Facebook team rebalanced the ratio of Function Objects to Frame Components by compressing like actions into like categories. thus, many Function Objects were grouped into few, and thus became manageable once more. Facebook's ratio of Frame Components (it's system architectural boundaries) and it's Function Objects was once again restored. Let's look at the converse case. What happens when Frame Components outweigh Function Objects? In the case of traditional networks, too many Frame Components can take the shape of heavy information architectures. This results in systems with excessive clicks to get to data, or information buried behind many walls, compartmentalized and difficult to understand.
This is also the case web systems built entirely on empty social networking systems occur. A user enters a system, and after setting up a lathe string of social input (realized that there is no data to "act on"; nothing go do in the system. These systems usually fail because of this. (example? any network with no content. Aimless sharing).
What are some examples of systems that have excellent Function Object to Frame Component ratios? Flickr is one. It allows simple user upload, Streamlined Function Objects, and an extremely lightweight set of Frame Components. This allows the user data in the system to have extreme prominence, and that user data has clearly defined by very transparent boundaries between it ---> relations are clearly defined (tags, categories, sets, groups, descriptions, titles, copyrights, owners, contributors) ate all clearly defined and clickable. Metadata is easily added to, and tags are easily created.
The frame components in Flickr *are* the function objects.
From this, we can surmise that, in an architectural system, the delineation between frame components and function objects has an impact on the usability and transparency of that system.
The only major difference among these function objects is their scale to the number of people which will use each simultaneously.
Basically, there are two scales: those where functions are performed by no more than two or three people at the same time, and those in which many more people must be provided for" (28). On Flickr, here are function objects specifically intended for the use by many people and those intended for use by only a few. Additionally , spaces (frame components) are created by permission boundaries for friends and family, as well as "only viewable by me" r the public.
These delineations of volume change the number of function objects and the scale and interchange rules of frame components.
"Compactness, an intrinsic characteristic of function objects, factilitates mobility and efficiency” (28).
Set Theory of Spaces
The set of all things subset category image individual comments as a subset of an imge. Profile as a subset of comments, images as a subset of profiles.
The online space is the most flexible form of space because it may be rewritten. It may be divided according to how one divides things in an auditorium. A shape of space characterized by its capability to be used for one of the largest variety of needs. This permutational quality in the off-line area holds only a fraction of the ability compared to an online space's capability to be repurposed. An efficient space has a theme or purpose. The rest is left empty.
FriendFeed gathers content feeds and social stream from different services and formats them in a consumable fashion. A non-fluid space is status, and solid, and it cannot be easily changed or spread by the user.
Equipotential space offers the possibility of real freedom. This is not freedom just to be different, but freedom to participate as fully as possible, give social, economic and technical reality" (29) .
The most successful online sites have shown us a full realization of Severino's Equipotential Space. "I is freedom to shape responsive solutions to immediate needs - and when these needs change, to have a new solution" (29).
"The relative availability of options s a measure of the control man can exercise over his environment and therefore a measure of his relative freedom.
In Equipotential Space, this sort of freedom can be available form the personal and familial levels all the way through to the sociopolitical level political elections and Twitter.
"All though the flexibility in shaping the Space and controlling the environment (29).
Severino proposes a real-life experiment similar to the one we might see used in companies today to determine analytic use of internal company resources. A sort of test to understanding the efficiencies are around then be interesting to take anexistinterstin to hypothesize the same events occupying the same time spans and relationships in Equipotential space and calculate the total value required as a percentage of present supposed needs.
"As an exercise," he writes, "it would be interesting to take an existing unit, such as a large urban university, that included almosy all types of social activities on all varieties of scale, and conducted a use-study of all the separate inflexibly defined space no existing, to find out what percentage of the time each space was being used.
Even with a finite, limited number of components within each subsystem, Equipotential Space can provide almost any variety of relationships (for example, space) requited a any time" 29-30).
In the online perspective this would be equivalent to testing the space to determine wasted Function of Objects and Frame Components.
If only we applied this process to our lived spaces now. We can, with the use of stop motion/time lapse and cameras, or the ethnographic queries of a seasoned anthropologist. But we can most easily do this on websites, as. And truly, any company who is not doing this is missing out on the opportunity to underant which parts of their virtual architectures are useless to their users.
Frame Components Function Objects
"Equipotential Space develops a time dimension by relating objects in a volume over a period of time as needs change" (3010).
In this way, digital spaces also morph in volume over time. Time creates space, and volume is created by use. Time can also streamline space.
(Revisiting) Equipotential Space: Freedom in (Digital) Architecture From: Equipotential Space: Freedom in Architecture Praeger publishers. 14. Serverino, New York, London.