Our model of simulation, and why we chose the weblog categories.Simulation is when someone makes something appear to be happening, when it probably isn't.
What follows is my current model of the process. Developing and maintaining this blog will be a test of the model, so expect it to change.
In order to simulate, you need
1. to select a subset of reality: you decide to simulate flying an aircraft, or handling a crisis, or economic growth. (Metaphysicians would ask what is reality, or how we know about it, if it exists. Simulators may not usually concern themselves with this level of enquiry, though they would be unwise to forget it completely. )
2. to analyse that subset, and prepare a set of assumptions or 'rules' about how the parts of that sub-set of reality behave. (And, by implication, how they will behave in the future.) You may make certain assumptions, eg that people will behave rationally or optimally.
3. to build a 'model' incorporating these 'rules' and allowing them to interact and come to life. This assumes that the sets of rules interact to form a coherent system, which is self-contained in the sense that all the major influences are included, and no probable significant impact will come from outside the system. (For instance, should 'Flight Simulator' be able to simulate hijackers on board the aircraft?)
4. to build a method to deliver that model to the simulation users. Delivery can be via computer screen, or role-playing, etc., but is almost always interactive. Varying degrees of realism are used, some much greater than others. Typically, this area seems to be where most of the expense occurs.
5. simulation users are also required, since every simulation exists for one or more human users. The simulation users almost always know that they are seeing a simulation, and not real life. They have a set of expectations about what they will gain from participating in the simulation: these may be to learn, to play a game, or whatever. They need the right set of cultural references to allow them to respond properly to the delivery model. (As a very basic example, if the simulation is in German, they should speak German.)
6. simulators are required, to perform the above steps, to monitor and assess the effectiveness of the process, and hopefully to improve it.
7. to market the simulation, in order to raise money to put it together, and attract the users.
This blog will use these seven categories to classify its entries.
1. realities: the subsets of reality which simulations cover.
2. assumptions: how simulators derive the 'rules' on which their simulations are based.
3. modelling: how systems and models are built
4. delivery: different delivery methods: what you see is what you get
5. users: who uses simulations, and what do they get out of it?
6. simulators: who are they?
7. finance: who pays for all of this, and why? who markets the idea to them, and how?