How Instrumentation works

The premise of the Instrumentation language is that most common words can be broken down into combinations of basic concepts or 'Types'. Here are a few simple examples from the 'Creation layer' of a glyph, as shown in the image below.

Creation and the inner spokes. Right hand: pointer
        #7 self, index #6 state, ring #5 object, little #4 time. Left
        hand: pointer #3 meaning, index #2 thought, ring #1 relation,
        little #0 format.

An inner spoke, by itself, denotes the absolute of its 'Type'. Inner spoke #7 means 'self' when plugged and 'not self' when unplugged. The 'plug' is the triangle within the 'hub'. 'Unplugging the glyph' means 'removing the triangle'.

Every unique combination of 'elements' (such as the inner spokes above) within a glyph represents one or more words which can be considered an amalgam of their Types, as shown below. Self plus time is life. Self plus thought is mind. Self plus time plus thought is agenda. Time plus thought is history.

Visual: Self + Time + Thought

Same Relationships for Visual Learners

For example, a 'record' is an Object that involves both Thought and Meaning. This is illustrated with the blue spokes below. This can be a record of anything. It can be written (a journal), visual (a picture or movie), audible (a 'recording'), something else (telepathic perhaps?) or some combination thereof. This image is taken from the Instrumentation game.

The glyph for record

Elemental overview

So where do these 'Types' come from?

The Types are taken from the I Ching or "Book of Changes". The I Ching uses eight 'trigrams' to create 64 'hexagrams'. The trigrams represent eight universal criteria that measure the rise and fall of individuals, institutions and events. The hexagrams are traditionally used for meditation and fortune telling.

The Way bears all things:
harmony nurtures them;
nature shapes them;
use completes them.
Each follows the Way and honors harmony,
not by law, but by being.
The Way bears, nurtures, shapes, completes,
shelters, comforts, and makes a home for them.
Bearing without possessing;
nurturing without taming;
shaping without forcing;
this is harmony.
                -- Lao Tse, "Tao Te Ching"

The table below shows the eight trigram Types from the I Ching and the derivative Types from each layer of the glyph that are used to help specify terms. Instrumentation uses these Types to form thoughts from inside to outside (or from initial Creation to final Specification).  The 'Ordinal State' column shows how these Types align with the 'octants' of a glyph (as shown below the table).

I Ching
Creation Description Articulation Specialization Ordinal State
Supremacy self action intention science 7 active more major
Moving state dimension interpretation business 6 active more minor
Resisting object absolute depiction law 5 active less major
Peril time time interrogation sport 4 active less minor
Elegance meaning sensation extrapolation art 3 passive more major
Pleasure thought value interpolation education 2 passive more minor
Flexibility relation relative recognition employment 1 passive less major
Submission number format recollection leisure 0 passive less minor

Process overview

The four layers of a glyph (as shown below) are inner spokes (term Creation), inner laths (term Description), outer spokes (term Articulation) and outer laths (term Specialization). The outer laths are not used yet. The hub means 'true' when plugged and 'false' when unplugged. The numbers show how the 'octants' (of the glyph below) align with the Types listed in the table above.

The Glyph of Instrumentation: four layers, eight
        octants (or fingers) per layer

Every unique combination of the elements of a glyph represents a combination of Types which corresponds to a unique term.  Many simple terms (such as 'life') only require a Type or two from a single layer of the glyph to be completely defined.

In general, terms evolve as follows:
The Description layer also provides common conversational phrases such as "meet us at the usual place for drinks". This can reduce "instant message" conversations to single glyphs.

The permutations of a single glyph can specify a total vocabulary of over eight and a half billion terms. Fortunately, you don't have to remember the locations of any terms at all (or understand how a glyph works) because you can find any term using the 'Search' functions of the Instrumentation smartphone application. Simplifying term 'Discovery' is one of the major goals of this development project.

Learning Instrumentation

The I Ching Types (in the chart above) are the key to understanding this language.

Learning Instrumentation isn't required to use the smartphone application, but it will help you understand how (and why) the vocabulary was constructed in the first place.

Once you see the way the octants (or trigrams) progress from one Type to the next, it becomes apparent that they follow the ups and downs of life. This, in turn, makes use of the language more of an intuitive act than a mechanical process. The current prototype vocabulary doesn't exhibit this intuition very well, but the octant Types will endure when the basic vocabulary has been computer generated so learning them now will still give you a leg up.

Below is the Instrumentation view of the fundamental Types. I created this diagram while breaking the symbolism down so that I could understand it. This process consisted of making up the stories that the cycle tells in several different perspectives.

However you do it, you need to feel the humors of the Types as they race around their wheel. You need the info in the other tutorials to use the language (which is the best place to start), but you need to understand the Types to truly understand the language. (and you will be able to explain the I Ching, which is always handy)

The types of the I Ching in a circle

Beneath Abstraction

There is a mystery,
beneath abstraction,
silent, depthless,
alone, unchanging,
ubiquitous and liquid,
the mother of nature.
It has no name, but I call it "the Way";
it has no limit, but I call it "limitless".
Being limitless, it flows away forever;
flowing away forever, it returns to my self:
the Way is limitless,
so nature is limitless,
so the world is limitless,
and so I am limitless.
For I am abstracted from the world,
the world from nature,
nature from the Way,
and the Way from what is beneath abstraction.

  -- Lao Tse, "Tao Te Ching"

In Finitus

So that's the scoop. You can play with the game and then read the design document if you want to know more. The design is not an easy read, but it provides the essential details on the construction, structure and strictures of the language. Personally, I would read the other tutorials first, but when you are ready for the cannon origin story, the design is the place to go.

I am indebted to Sonja Elen Kisa, the creator of the minimalist language "Toki Pona". Toki Pona was a great help to me in deciding what nouns should provide the basic vocabulary for the Creation layer. Another major influence was the classes and subdivisions of Roget's Thesaurus by Dr. Peter Mark Roget. Finally the Apertium translation system demonstrates that common 'structural' rules can be applied to multiple languages.

The result was inevitable.

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