Depth of character

Characters need depth—some measures of diversity, quirkiness, and unpredictability—to move beyond being merely credible and able to fully engage an audience. Fiction becomes more lifelike when the plot twists, a character responds differently than we figured, and the outcome remains logical for other characters and for us to understand.


Characters need depth-some measures of diversity, quirkiness, and unpredictability-to move beyond being merely credible and able to fully engage an audience.

Fiction becomes more lifelike when the plot twists, a character responds differently than we figured, and the outcome remains logical for other characters and for us to present and as the story line progresses.

Beyond ''pretty''

Software for human-machine interface and supervisory control and data acquisition (HMI/ SCADA) has gained enough depth to engage operators in integrating the goals of discrete, process, batch, and hybrid applications beyond islands of automation. More diverse software capabilities make the plot twists of today's plant-floor environments more credible for operators and other decision-makers in the organization to understand in a broader context. Let's face it-if the people making the stuff cannot connect to and participate in real-time decisions concerning customers, then goals are set and decisions made in fictional settings, without roots in the reality of the moment.

Today's HMI/SCADA software contains depth of character, offering ''More than Pretty Pictures,'' as Gary Mintchell, Control Engineering senior editor, explains in the December 2002 cover story.

Similarly, in fiction, certain smart characters are doomed to failure as circumstances conspire to overwhelm them. They cannot seem to advance beyond just being smart, to apply intelligence to a situation.

Beyond ''smart''

Making a final control element ''smart'' allows it to respond favorably to input in the present. Going beyond that, an 'intelligent' control element adds the ability to anticipate and predict what's going to happen. With proper sensing inputs and programming, the controller or positioner can start responding ahead of what present conditions might suggest, keeping ahead of, and even changing the curve.

''Making Controllers/ Positioners Smarter is Smart Business,'' by Dave Harrold, Control Engineering senior editor, examines how such digital intelligence reduces process variability and operating costs, and improves uptime and safety.

Whether curling up with some fun fiction or trusted observations, December often prompts reflection upon the events and developments of the past year...and pondering about the promise of 2003.

Consider how more intelligent investments in applying technologies, in the people around us, and in ourselves, can bring about a greater good. And then, beyond contemplation, pick a few to transform from fiction into reality.

-Mark T. Hoske, Editor-in-Chief

System integrator information from Control Engineering Online-

System integrators can assist end-users in selecting and implementing technologies. To help find an integrator, the 2003 Automation Integrator Guide is included as a supplement with this issue.

By registering at Integrator G uide

At Control Engineering system integrator channel.


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