Sunday, November 28, 2021

Structure and GB

TL;DR -- The internet/web has become increasingly fluid over the years as choices push in that direction. Part of this was the large set of potential representation devices grew in size and complexity. Adapting to that situation motivated several choices which might need reconsideration. As, information has structure as does the language used to express information. For our purposes, we see the PDF as a framework for providing temporal views of our information. However, given an early choice, we provided a print flavor. In retrospect, the PDF ought to point to information in its contemporary form. We will do that, albeit the task will become harder going back in time. So, right now, we have two volumes to show as an example. 


We recently released the issue of  Gardner's Beacon, Vol. XI, No. 1 in which we included links in the PDF file so as to have a more full presentation of information. After than, we re-issued the PDFs for Volume X which was 2020 and Volumes IX and VIII. These are the PDFs done so far. 
  • Table move to our tech blog. Added in a format for more general reading. 
Try them and let us know. Why do this? It's a starting point. 

As we have mentioned, we are now designing changes to incorporate the mobile devices of small footprint. Over the past few years, site have been adjusting to make the interchange the same no matter the level of device. As in, we have the small (smartphone and other), tablet (varying sizes) and the more normal (where, again, we have a size range). Our portal ( is where we have worked on the issues of mobility. 

From time to time, we have checked pages on the portal. However, the older (traditional) site has had minimal upgrade, though it works. 

In regard to the flexible approach that has been adopted, it has been a mixed blessing. One type of interface cannot handle all requirements. On the one hand, there has been lots of energy and money put into better interfaces for handling photos or games or steaming video. Other requirements might be for text with graphics such as we find with a scholarly paper. There are many more. 

An approach to allowing flexibility has been to remove structural constraints, almost entirely. Hence, the objects being displayed adapt. One scrolls to look for what one is seeking. A metaphor would be trying to find a bottle cap on a football field using only a small window of view (pan mostly, perhaps with some zoom). Using a browser on a larger screen can allow some search using text if the images have these identified.  
small example of the
array of modern devices 

This is a brief overview which was discussed in the 'Favorite site' post. An important concept is structure which can be several things, even some implicit order for scrolling. At the portal, we have offered a sliding icon array which maps to post by time. The PDF is another approach where text will have links to additional information. One can offer popup information and similar. 

So, with these PDFs, there is, at least, one link per paragraph to a post that relates to the theme. Then, each of these posts links to related material. Now, links? They can go bad for several reasons. Part of the maintenance would be link management which would identify those that are stale. Or, perhaps, where a server disappeared and might return at any moment. 

Now, this might seem to be out of scope with regard to our content. In an ideal world, that would be true. But, the internet has been undergoing tremendous change. We have looked to use the none extreme, in the sense of KISS. Too, we think of our material as being an in-progress outline with some fleshing available that is like a summary or overview. Besides, the balance of content and configuration is a never-ending affair where the line of demarcation moves by context. 

We will be putting out a temporary page to handle these PDFs as they get updated. Too, there will be ongoing reconfiguration seen through the next few (no end seen, yet) months.  

Remarks: Modified: 10/03/2022

12/20-21/2021 -- Added GB Vol. IX, No. 1,2, 3 and GB Vol. VIII, 1, 2 to see what's involved with the editing in of links. And, how many years back we might like to go. 

12/29/2021 -- Working GB Vol. XII, No. 2. Also, added GB Vol. IV, No. 2 which included information about the incorporation. 
02/22/2022 -- Added GB Vol. I, No. 1 and GB Vol. II, No. 1, ..., essentially, starting over. 

03/30/2022 -- Added GB Vol. XII, No. 1 
10/03/2022 -- Moved the status table over to our mobile-friendly site. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Gardner's Beacon, Vol XI, No 1

This issue of Gardner's Beacon provides an overview of things accomplished in 2021 and before, plus commentary on what we are doing and why. Reports on our work have mostly been done by blog posts. The occasional issue of Gardner's Beacon provides for a structured review. Also, we have presented material by way of The Gardner Annals, an issue of which will be published in 2022. 

GB XI, 1 (PDF w/links)


See Vol. XI, No. 1 of Gardner's Beacon for ... Sources.

Remarks: Modified: 12/30/2021

11/25/2021 -- Added links on topics to be covered. 

11/26/2021 -- Issue released. Links in the PDF are supposed to be active. See the problem. Will be corrected tomorrow. For those interested, a forgetful transform kicked in when it was not expected. Oversight. Mea culpa. In the meantime, use the links in this post which goes to a subset. 

12/30/2021 -- Vol. XI, No. 2

Monday, November 22, 2021

Favorite site

TL;DR -- Considering technological issues related to computer systems some of which are exhibiting, supposedly, behavior that might be considered intelligent. Some of these systems handle language interchange with humans, somewhat. On the other hand, we have the example of educated humans who grasp lots of material with an understanding that is apparent in effective action. Versus, the more focused modes that we see with computer systems. The debate continues. In the meantime, we can see slow progress with respect to computer-based information. A long-time example is provided. 


We have had several posts on technology over the years in a general sense. We have also taken up the them of History, Culture, Technology. And, we have several times remarked about content versus configuration in terms of knowledge management. The computer has really changed the landscape. 

We started in 2010 using Microsoft's Office Live. It was two years later that they switched to Office 360 and pruned out lots of small business systems that had developed. We are to where we want to incorporate an ecommerce flavor, of sorts, but our focus is research. WikiTree is sufficient to support our genealogical needs. How to handle the rest of the requirements is a recurring them? Associated with this is the issue of what are the requirements. 

Since the introduction of the smart phone 14 years ago, we have watched the evolution. 'apps' were one major enhancement (for better or for worse is to be discussed) with wide-spread ramifications. We just got our first smart phone a couple of weeks ago which will help hone our research. That is, the platforms for interface are several, but we have three as a focus, at the moment: mobile, tablet/laptop, desktop. Other platforms? The whole of the gaming theme, including the 'meta' dreams of Facebook. 5G and IOT as frameworks for the future are a big deal. At the upper end, we have the huge systems doing massive computing. We have to mention the cloud which is not to be without huge farms of computers dealing with distributed systems in disparate areas and across a never-ending landscape of information. 

Got the drift, yet? I may have mentioned this once, but the Gairdner Foundation was an inspiration when first seen years ago. It was started in Canada by a Gairdner gent from Scotland. Their focus is medical research for which they support work and offer prizes for results. This is a huge domain. 

Computing? It's larger, for several reasons. For one thing, it's supportive of everything. Like says, their members have been involved intimately with all advances in technology of the past century. Then there are all of the issues related to 'smarts' with respect to computing. I already mentioned the 'smart' phone. Another topic would be AI and its association with knowledge and autonomy of artifacts. Of note are the discussions currently looking at the various subjects. Lines are being cast. 

Our focus is the U.S., principally, with New England a key topic. A large part of our history has been technology as it evolved in our timeframe. The past few decades saw an acceleration where American ingenuity influenced the world. Of late, China has made inroads which will be discussed. For now, this image is from the Communications of the ACM, Nov 2021

There are several articles to discuss, such as this one reviewing NLP with respect to the historical work plus enhancements that accrue to applying modern techniques: Knowledgeable Machine Learning for Natural Language Processing

In the larger picture which deals with complexity and thereby limits to computing, technical perspectives article provides and overview and arguments for MIP* = RE. This has direct implications related to the need for management of expectations. 

One might argue that AI AIn't. In the general way of progress, hype has been let loose of its restrictions. Mind you, much misinformation is out there. Where does one go to find any type of truth? Well, that is one thing that we can help with. Our little portal is meant as a means to define, discuss, and determine matters that go to the core, even with regard to our very essence as humans. 

So, let's put here a little bit of text from a discussion. This from a post by Prof. John Baez with regard to thermodynamics as seen from an introductory framework (Composited thermodynamics). 

I'm sure there's much more to be done. But I feel happy to see modern math being put to good use: making the foundations of thermodynamics more precise. Once Vladimir Arnol'd wrote:
    • Every mathematician knows that it is impossible to understand any elementary course in thermodynamics.
I'm not sure our work will help with that---and indeed, it's possible that once the mathematicians finally understand thermodynamics, physicists won't understand what the mathematicians are talking about! But at least we're clearly seeing some more of the mathematical structures that are hinted at, but not fully spelled out, in such an elementary course.

How this relates to the above is that thermodynamics has been studied for a few centuries now. Count Rumford was an early researcher. AI? Modern to its core. Most classical views that might relate are not consider. Or, have not been for several reasons. But, the computer and changes to cognition can be observed. We are too new to this game to know as much as we are assuming. 

Be that as it may, finally we can get to the gist of the post. Favorite site? It has been mentioned several times in posts (Culture, History, Technology). Prof. Baez started blogging in the 1990s using the blogging mode in vogue at the time which was the minimal type of framework. He kept at it until about ten years ago. Reminder, this blog dealt with advanced mathematics of the highest order with embedded images and many equations written out in a textual format. The message got conveyed. 

When he transitioned, he left his old blog that was full of content which is one of our themes. And, he went to WordPress (Azimuth) which we have been using, somewhat. Seeing him work with both the old and the new is encouraging. 

Right now, we have two sites. We will transition to using the new ( while we work issues with regard to re-configuring and adding in new facilities, such as ecommerce functions. 

Remarks: Modified: 08/12/2023

12/10/2021 -- Added the TL;DR line. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Eliphalet Pearson

TL;DR -- We continue our look at the History of Harvard by featuring another Head. In this case. Eliphalet Pearson served in an interim role for a couple of years. The information on him is sparse, so we can look to fill that in. But, his pedigree is shown on WikiTree, starting in Newbury, MA which is of Essex County. 


So far, in our look at the History of Harvard, we have featured three Presidents. Today, we add another. Eliphalet Pearson (1752-1826) was acted in the role between the death of the 12th (Joseph Willard) and start of the 13th term (Samuel Webber). Eliphalet served from 1804 to 1806 (see Heads of Harvard). Prior to his stint at Harvard, he was Head of Phillips Academy which has an illustrious list of notable alumni.  

Eliphalet was born in Newbury of Essex County, MA and has a solid New England pedigree as shown by WikiTree

Remarks: Modified: 12/11/2021

12/11/2021 -- Added link to Heads of Harvard.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Sam Dunn

TL;DR -- Having seen a map of North American dated in 1794, this post was imperative. In the map, the interior is mostly unknown. One fact that stood out was Taos, in New Mexico, which attests to the long influence of Spain. We look at some of the developments over the years since then, starting with the Lewis & Clark trek which was funded by the administration of President Thomas Jefferson. 


We have many posts dealing the the carving of the interior of the U.S. during the frontier century starting with Jedediah Strong Smith's journeys through the west, looking at Judge Thompson's travels, and considering the changes during the period of the influence of the trapper, the trader, and the rancher as civilization moved continually westward. Plus many other themes with respect to this long period of activity over the whole of the interior. 

Sam Dunn was a London mathematician and mapper who did a series of maps of the world. His abstract look at the New World in 1794 is interesting, for several reasons. There was not much knowledge about the interior except for personal knowledge by the trappers until the official look by Lewis&Clark which was ordered by Prez Jefferson in 1804. 

North America, 1794

This map illustrates several points. For one, the view is not bad considering the input which would have been scribbled maps and text. Our abstraction ability allows this talent to shine. And, it is pertinent today due to technology's introduction of the computer. More on that through time. Another point is that the interior of this view did not account for the mountains that range top to bottom. Mountains? Yes, lots and lots. Colorado has many over 14K feet. Also, the River of the West was a nice hypothesis that didn't pan out. 

Lots to look at, over time. In terms of rivers, the Arkansas is there. The Missouri is truncated. We see the Rio Grande and the Colorado mentioned, albeit some corrections are necessary. However, notice Taos is located somewhat correctly, so we do see Spanish influence. And, France's northern information is there. The big unknown? The U.S. and its west. That was an era and location still pending. 
Remarks: Modified: 12/10/2021

11/09/2021 -- U.S. History. The first few years. 

12/10/2021 -- U.S. Interior (prior to carving). 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Lucy Foster (Wilson) Gardner

TL;DR -- As we look at generations, we will split them by the 250th which is an important event. Lucy Foster Wilson Gardner, and her husband, are of the seventh generation. We have written of Lucy as her family involves all sides of the Witch ordeal. Too, they have interesting stories with respect to the War of Independence. Then, we have updated her WikiTree profile. 


Recently, while sorting old material, Ann's brother, Jonathan B. Gardner, found a portrait of Lucy Foster Wilson. The dimensions are 12 1/4 by 10 inches without the framing which had deteriorated.  Lucy was two generations post the U.S. Revolution whose 250th celebration is coming up soon. 

This is a photo of the portrait; the rest of this post is about Lucy and her generation. 

Lucy F. Wilson
ca. 1840s

We wrote of Lucy's family in Vol 34, No 3 of The Essex Genealogist and included an Ahnentafel. The title of the article was "Trials of the Wilson Family" which is summarized in a blog post (Andover Ordeal, 28 Apr 2014). Lucy was of many families who endured (or loved) the Witch ordeal, such as Samuel Wardwell and Mary Ayers Parker (both hanged on 22 Sep 1692 - Salem Village, where else?). 

Lucy's father was Jonathan Wilson. Her mother was Prudence Goldthwait. Both of these were children of SAR/DAR Patriots. Jonathan Wilson was buried at the Howard Street Burial Ground which we wrote about (18 Feb 2020). Prudence is kin to Ezekiel Golthwait who irritated, it is said, John Adams when he (Ezekiel) beat Samuel Adams (kin of John) in an election with a vote margin of two to one. 

Ah, the stories awaiting to be told, especially the time of the Revolution. But, those are for later. 

Right now, let's add Lucy Foster Wilson and her husband, Benjamin Brown Gardner, to the Seventh Generation. We are looking more closely at generations. There are different views: by calendar, by the biological events (parent-child), by some type of impetus that gets attention, and, no doubt, by other means. 

Dr. Frank's 1907 book assigned #188 to Jonathan Gardner, Benjamin's father (pg 283).  #345 Benjamin Brown Gardner was the 2nd child. The following image provides a list of New England ancestors of Lucy. 

According to the WikiTree data, Benjamin Brown Gardner was of the sixth generation. However, his birth year and that of Lucy Foster Wilson puts them in the seventh. So, we will work out a good way to handle this. One distinguishing feature of the seventh is being a grandchild of a Patriot. 

Benjamin Brown Gardner died early (details of death pending) which left Lucy for almost two decades as a widow. 

Remarks: Modified: 11/04/2021

11/03/2021 --  

Monday, November 1, 2021

"Generations" and its use

TL;DR - An article in The New Yorker on recent generations motives a look at the dozen or so generations since John Winthrop's arrival. We have had several posts on generations and find the divisions to be of use. 30 years or 25 years? The graphic shows 30 years. With our database, we will be able to see how much of a range there is similar to the Mayflower data that showed the long span of their fifth generation. 


Meaning, of course, that the use of generation is arbitrary. A classical value was 30 years for a long time. We sort of stumbled on 25 years for various reasons. 

In a recent New Yorker, Louis Menand of Harvard reviewed a couple of books on the subject. His article was titled, It’s Time to Stop Talking About “Generations” , and covers some interesting points. Louis is a Professor of English. He was at Harvard Law before going over to Columbia for his Ph.D. His mother wrote a biography of Samuel Adams, so we will look at him further. 

With respect to the reviews, his graphic is an eye-catcher, showing the last four generations as we see in the press: Boomer, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z. Each of these four is considered to be about 15 years. Louis argues that these are very arbitrary giving not much more information than one finds with astrology. However, generations do make sense. In the graphics, we have a 30-year generational look that shows the Boomers to be in the 12th generation which is about right as looking back at Thomas Gardner and Margaret Fryer that is how many lines get filled in, say for an application to a heritage society. 

This post wanted to bring in motivations for looking more closely at generations. Too, this will be a regular type of study and report. We have had many posts so far on generational themes. Here are a few. 

  • Fifth generation - From July of 2020 when we were diving into the databases of SAR/DAR as well as looking at the particular families who were associated with events. The 5th bearing the brunt? Lots and lots to look at there. 
  • Hundred years - From June of 2020 as we got to looking at a spectral approach. Going backward from now: 100th (Dr. Frank's time), 200th (western expansion), 250th (Revolution), 300th (not long after the Witch fiasco, 400th (Weymouth next year, then Gloucester, then rolling on). 
  • America's Lost Generation - From November of 2020 when we realized by looking at families as we helped people with their applications that lots and lots of problems arise when people move several hundreds of miles away to someplace without infrastructure. Then, genealogists, in their antiquated logic, blame some brick wall when it's their thinking on the issue. Lots to discuss. If Lyman Porter is a sore spot, so be it. The recent database has him, a daughter, and brothers. Database? Yeap, from MF applications that were accepted. 
The frontier century was over 100 years long and potentially spans from three to five generations. We will be looking at that. 

Remarks: Modified: 01/08/2023

11/02/2021 --  Updated the graphic. 

11/03/2021 -- Lucy F. (Wilson) Gardner is of the seventh (or sixth) generation.  

01/08/2023 -- We had another icon (Charles Thomson) come up for our 250th (1774, Continental Congress) and 400th (Cape Ann as one of the first of the capitalization attempts of history).