Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on the Future of the Book

The Foundations of Role-Playing and Conceptual Abstraction: Telling Stories Through Diagrammatic Languages

Dr. James P. Davis.

A number of Diagrammatic Languages (diagrams annotated with descriptive text) have come into use as a means to capture and codify knowledge about arbitrary subjects. Such languages are more general than domain-specific or discipline-specific notations used in a wide number of engineering or medical domains, and are capable of representing arbitrary knowledge about a subject matter from many different viewpoints. Economy of expression is a hallmark of the use of such notations, where they find most of their use in the information technology field. With such names as the Entity-Relationship model, the Unified Modeling Language, and the Information Definition language, diagrammatic languages and their methods and idioms have become part of the knowledge worker’s toolkit in such analysis domains as database modeling, object-oriented software development, and agent-oriented systems development for the world-wide web. A key aspect of such languages is their ability to be used by humans to conceptually abstract the “essence” of a perceived subject matter into a compact set of related diagrams that efficiently tell stories, conveying essential information about the subject. Given a basic vocabulary and set of grammar rules, anyone can use such languages to create “models” of some world of interest, and communicate—at different levels of detail—the salient characteristics of the world to others. A picture is truly worth a thousand words. This talk will survey such notations and highlight their use in capturing information through concept abstraction and role-playing—two mechanisms useful for organizing story “content”. The objective is to demonstrate how people can express knowledge about a wide range of arbitrary subjects through such diagrammatic languages, showing their use in communicating stories about the world of interest.


Dr. James P. Davis  (United States)
Associate Professor
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
University of South Carolina

Dr. James P. Davis is Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Carolina. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering, in 1980 and 1981, and Ph.D. in Computer Engineering in 1989, all from USC. His research interests are in the areas of architecture and analysis methods for hardware and software systems design. He has developed hardware and software systems in a number of industry segments over the past 25 years, first as an engineer and manager with NCR and as a research scientist with Mitsubishi Electric. He has held senior management positions in start-up companies Knowledge Based Silicon, involved in the creation of high-level design capture software for computer chip design; and, HealthMagic, responsible for one of the first longitudinal, secure, consumer-oriented, electronic health records for the Internet. More recently, he has been an executive with consulting practices Global Health International and Covansys, serving the healthcare sector, and Chaudron, Davis and Associates, serving clients in the electronics industry.

  • Conceptual Modeling
  • Visual Languages
  • Cognition and Comprehension

(Virtual Presentation, English)