I am sick, I have been sick, this is very repetitive. I wanted to share a small cheerful thing as a free post.
I have been trying to come up with the Iwunen logo and I spent four large sketchbook pages just on basic ideas - using the brush pen I bought from my first Patreon earnings :) Thank you!!
Patreon has made it very difficult to post multiple images in one post! I can't fathom why. So I'm not posting the 4 sketchbook pages of logo concepts and then iterating those concepts until they become completely... iterated. :D I might scan them and make them into a little backer-only bonus, later.
But! I am posting the end result, see above. As you can see, I am making the logo in Inkscape, after sketchbooking in my sketchbook. I drew it freehand (on my Thinkpad X60T) and cleaned up some of the jagginess, but I still have some cleanup to do - you can see where the curves are uneven. So this is not final, but close to final.
What are these squigglies and what do they do? At first I thought I would somehow make a logo of "III" or "I3" or something along those lines, but the problem with this is of course Ereni people do not use the Latin alphabet. I actually have an Ereni alphabet :), but that would not really provide the right associations for Earth human readers!
I wanted to think of something conceptual that would get across quite a bit of what I want to achieve and express, during the course of the series. What would be a visual concept I could use?
The first thing that came to my mind was the logistic function.
I can explain! I can explain without equations! Please come back :D
You can see on Wikipedia what the function is shaped like (you don't need to read the equations). The core of the logo is the shape of this function, with the whole thing rotated 45 degrees, and the top and the bottom bending back inward (just for artistic emphasis. I mean emphasis). Then there is a circle-y thing on top because those are cool, and I wanted to emphasize the top to convey the meaning of growth.
Now that you can (hopefully?) see how the logo is structured, I'll explain why this function out of all possible functions.
This function can express so many things in nature, it is not even funny. I keep on coming across it in my own research in all the unexpected places. Let's think of it as something showing a process of growth. Usually when people think of growth, they think of two kinds of growth: either linear or exponential.
Linear growth is basically just a line tilted upward (this would be SOOOO much easier if Patreon let me add images). Exponential growth looks like this (again, you can skip the math, just look at the picture).
In politics and such, and general everyday life, people often assume that exponential growth is a thing. Computers will get faster and this process will happen even faster! We will use a humongous amount of oil! The United States will be absolutely full of people, yes, even in Kansas! (I live in Kansas. I can say those things :D ) Western capitalist rhetoric especially seems to rely on the assumption that growth is exponential. The entire Singularity argument is basically this.
In real life (I can speak mostly of the life sciences, but it applies more broadly), growth is usually not exponential - that is because it has at least one limiting factor. Computers won't get faster beyond the laws of physics. Oil will run out. And even Iowa cannot produce enough corn that there will be people all over even Kansas. (I used to live in Iowa and Iowa produces a lot of corn.)
The logistic function does exactly this. (NO, IT DOES NOT PRODUCE CORN - sorry!) It ramps up fast, so that it initially looks exponential. But then it levels off much more smoothly at a high maximum.
It also has many other nice features. If you think of it not as a process of growth, but as a function that defines what responses you get to a range of stimuli, you can approximate something that happens in neurons: similar responses to either end of the continuum (the low ones and the high ones), but quite different responses in the middle. Both the lower left "tail" and the upper right "tail" are kind of similar. But in the middle, a little change in the stimulus can result in a large change in the outcome.
If this is a bit hard to visualize without me explaining it at a blackboard (trust me, at this point I am seriously considering making a video of myself giving a lecture), try this. Imagine yourself as a point along the curve. If you are in the lower left "tail," and you move a tiny bit to the right, you are still roughly at the same height as you were. The same is true if you are in the upper right "tail" and move a little bit to the right. But if you move the same amount to the right while you are in the middle, you end up quite a bit higher up! This is a lot like how neurons work. They have a range where they respond to very small differences in very nuanced ways, and outside of that range they just don't care much. Different neurons have different ranges and respond to different stimuli, and they all work together to piece together what happens in your environment (incredibly roughly speaking - I hope my colleagues will not hate me forever for this oversimplification).
So now we have two very cool things that this function can do. But why is this personally meaningful?
If you allow me an analogy that is actually not so much of a stretch, it relates to sustainability. If you go on an exponential upswing of growth, you cannot sustain it because eventually the limiting factor will be hit. But if you can ease up more gently, you can reach and sustain a high level of performance/consumption that will not be as high as you would get with an exponential (....infinite!), but it will actually be feasible to maintain.
There is some discussion of this in the pre-prologue to Iwunen, Toward the Luminous Towers in Clarkesworld:
Aman Thien explained the process of connecting to the public networks. They said, we need constant high throughput—the power can go on the upswing of an exponential, but eventually a limiting factor will be hit; and the goal is to approximate the logistic curve, asymptoting at a high level, approaching a horizontal line.
I lose vocabulary even in my thoughts. I can only imagine the graphs, hold on to them.
Here I am all exponential, and after I hit the limiting factor, I crash hard, body sagging against restraints, mind spinning away into unconsciousness.
I have been having these thoughts for a very long time, and I will continue to make these points.
On a very personal level: I know I have a tendency to throw everything at a problem, and then it either works or I crash. I have been trying to actively work against this, and if you think about the above, it might be a bit clearer why.
If you got through this, I hope you are still alive and found this at least a tiny bit interesting. Thank you very much for reading, and thanks again for all your support!
(Caveat that I'm not a mathematician...)