Union of Intelligible Associations
Union of Intelligible Associations


within a strategic reframing of the Union of International Associations (2005)

[reframe index]


Since the 1970s, the UIA has sought ways to move beyond linear text to honour the reality of networks of relationships between issues and the networks organizations and strategies that endeavour to respond to them. The hypertext environment of the web has been ideal for this, as well as various kinds of visualization and mapping techniques. The cognitive possibilities of sonification have also been the subject of experiment. 

Text data (books, CD, web)

The UIA produces some 5,000 pages of reference book information annually, much of it also made available in CD or on the web.


Visual experiments made available over the web by the UIA as a registry services are designed to find ways of representing, comprehending and exploring complexity - as templates or scaffolding for new forms of coalition building. The purpose is to provide sophisticated techniques which generate structures that are visually interesting in their own right but raise interesting questions about what they are able to represent and how they might be developed. The user is deliberately given as much control as possible in exploring these structures creatively. The intention is also to make this process equally as interesting to academic researchers, students, the media, and to those concerned with formulating more appropriate policies in a complex society.


Other experiments explored the possibility of attaching simple sound files to nodes in generated maps, allowing the user to trigger them individually by mouse operations as a basis for developing an acoustic mnemonic code for structures. The use of sound is seen as a way of enhancing the capacities of those more responsive to soundscapes than to visual or text displays. This is seen as a vital mechanism where the digital divide is compounded by illiteracy or language barriers.

Web initiatives

Since 1996, the UIA has been developing a web-oriented multi-media facility covering a variety of interlinked knowledge bases. During the period 1997-2000, this has been partially funded through a project of the European Commission (DG Information Society) approved within the framework of INFO2000. A proposal to articulate further the development-related topics was evaluated in mid-1999 by the World Bank InfoDev program as a "highly ranked proposal awaiting funding" -- proposal focus: Interactive Contextual Environmental Planning Tool for Developing Countries.

Experimental representation

The UIA has undertaken a variety of online experiments in representation of complex patterns of information using virtual reality techniques, mapping techniques and classification systems of non-western  cultures.