Your Guide to

The Philosophy of Nodism

Hierarchy revisited in this age of Object Oriented Programming

Welcome readers from ◎ Your Guide to the Mechanics of Creativity

Isomorphisms of Hierarchy Used Crazy Carpet Mural — Hamilton Canada 2015 — Dan Zen


Nodism is a philosophy born from Object Oriented Programming but accessible to all. Even if you have not coded, let’s think about it for a second —coders use logic to make GAMES, SIMULATIONS and AI.

Games, simulations and Artificial Intelligence model life. The logical modeling of life is called Philosophy. Coders are practicing philosophy.

  • The philosophy is called Nodism.
  • Followers are part of the Nodist Colony!

This guide will take you through the history and basics of Nodism.


In the winter of 2005, Dan Zen was “crazy-person writing” in his sketchbook. Looking for a name for the writing, he called it node notes and then in an “improvement” box, decided it should be a philosophy. He wrote nodology, nodelgy, nodogy, and then nodism. Nodism sounded good and somewhat goofingly familiar. Ten years later, he had amassed hundreds of pages of crazy person writing and a simpler understanding of our world.

Dan Zen coins Nodism in 2005 in node notes writings

To find out more about Dan Zen please see:

Your Guide to Inventor Dan Zen


A goal of Nodism is to connect the laws of physics with what we sentient beings sense and understand. Nodism is the study of nesting — both in composition and classification. Composition is physical — spatial and temporal. Classification is mental — the recognition of similar properties. Both can be described by hierarchy diagrams so a large part of Nodism is the study of hierarchy and how it is used in all disciplines.

Isomorphisms of Hierarchy Sketch for Creativity Framework

Nodism also recognizes thought as being physical, so even as we classify, there is composition occurring within the dendrites, neurons and axons of the brain. Nodism is a meta philosophy where we think about thinking — and often about meta.

Patterns drawn from the Information Age — programming, XML, data

Nodism is supported by a group of several million — the Nodist Colony. These are the programmers of the world — logical people modeling life using object oriented programming principles of composition and classification. Those who model life are called philosophers. It is another goal of Nodism to encourage programmers to see themselves as philosophers. For an idea of what it is like to code, please explore:

Your Guide to Coding Creativity on the Canvas


The symbol of Nodism is a circle within a circle. It represents Node Zero — the first nest — everything, the universe. Coders start counting nodes at zero rather than one. Dan Zen embedded the symbol in a hose-bead wall hanging as well as used the symbol as the eye of the eel in his piece, the World’s Longest Eel.

Circle within Circle Symbol of Nodism found in Diagrams and Art
Isomorphisms of Hierarchy — Dan Zen 2015


As outlined in the Dan Zen Creativity Framework, hierarchies are found in all disciplines as they represent organization. Understanding organization will help us in life. The diagram shown here is a conclusion slide. In the Framework, the steps of the mappings are described one at a time.

Organizing with Hierarchy — from The Creativity Framework

The above diagram show the mapping of hierarchy across nested boxes, Web pages, indexes, trees, language, information, cells, DNA and the brain. Indeed, when you draw circles instead of boxes, you see cells and collections of cells — organs, hence organization. The creativity framework goes on to explain terms like “outside the box”, “lateral thinking”, “paradigm shift”, etc. all with respect to mappings of hierarchy. Having a clear understanding of this improves your creativity and can be very valuable in your career and lifestyle.

Phrases of Creativity: “outside the box”, “lateral thinking”, “paradigm shift”


Nodism describes context as anything above a node and content as anything inside a node. The node is a medium — it sits in the middle. This simple definition helps understand media and also relates to the past and future, potential and kinetic energy, perspect and aspect, synthesis and analysis, parent and children, joining and splitting, super and sub, general and specific — all terms clearly laid out and demonstrated in the Creativity Framework.

Terms of Hierarchy — from the Creativity Framework

Hierarchies are used to describe claims and subclaims in patents — how we represent inventions. They are taxonomy in teaching. They set up species in classification schemes, they are used in libraries, government, business, computing, etc. By recognizing properties of hierarchy and seeing isomorphisms, you can get a deeper understanding of life. Hierarchies have also been used as the basis of many philosophies — from the Hierarchical Cosmos to Set Theory and the Theory of Holons.


Nodism draws from the computing world where we improve at modeling real life — look at advancements in gaming and artificial intelligence. Collectively, the programming languages used to represent life are converging to the object oriented paradigm. The latest languages like JavaScript, C++, C#, Java, ActionScript are all pretty well the same — classes from which objects are made that have properties and methods and an event system for communication. What can we learn from this? Will it be the equivalent to the Newtonian system where it is a good model — but it takes an Einstein to see it is not quite right.

Flexibility in Composition and Classification

Speaking of Einstein, the theory of relativity comes into play in Nodism. Relevance is one of the most important topics being explored through Nodism. Relations are certainly shown in hierarchy with siblings, a parent, children, etc.

Hierarchy, despite its rigid reputation, is extremely flexible.

An object can be classified under any of its properties or combinations of properties. Out of everything, Dan Zen can be classified under inventors and inventors named Dan and people named Dan and people named Dan who are inventors and just under people and indeed classified directly under everything — at one with the universe. Also, everything can be represented under Dan — as in the distance from Dan, etc. In Nodism, the theory of relativity is applied not only to people but to anything including an idea. An idea can be the center of the universe and all else relative to it.

Exploration of Meta — Zen Interactive Storytelling

In many cases Godel’s Theorem shows up — of course it would in a philosophy of meta. Dan Zen created a story that relays concepts of Nodism — the Meta Mystery. The story is continued through several media and its final presentation is still to come. So, what is the status of Nodism?


Dan Zen developed Nodism during the 2000’s and thoughts can be found in several sketchbooks before an official sketchbook was used. The idea was to refine the thinking and set out a doctrine. Well… then came some ideas and they were put on a free-thinking side. The doctrine side has nothing and the free thinking side has about one hundred pages.

Sample Sketches of Nodism 1 — Dan Zen
Sample Sketches of Nodism 2 — Dan Zen
Sample Sketches of Nodism 3 — Dan Zen

Ideas also can be found in several hundred videos and voice recordings taken in the woods, the bath, the car, etc. A Nodism Site was created with a dozen or so posts. There was a Nodism Wiki but unfortunately, the database chosen for the Wiki was discontinued and not supported when servers were changed. To this day, all the initial Wiki work which was to be the doctrine, is almost lost. Dan Zen still has a compiled file with no way to read it. The Nodist Colony was to be a forum but it got overrun by spam. A series of chill-out-lounge moog supported chants featuring tenets of Nodism was underway when a harddrive crash lost all progress (here is a Recreated Sample). These three digital disasters pretty well halted Nodism advancement online. No need for conspiracy theory ;-).

Creativity Framework at

The Dan Zen Creativity Framework represents the most official articulation of Nodism principles. It alludes to the Single Hierarchy — shows the ands (combinations) of composition and the ors (permutations) of hierarchy and even details the possibility of quantitative analysis of relevance in the hunt for inventive synergy.

A series of Guides for the Creativity Framework are found here:


As an inventor, Dan Zen has created many things from original thought. It is not surprising that he would start thinking about thinking. Nodism is a result of this thinking. He was trained as an Engineer and then a Patent Agent and it is an indication of original thought that the basic principles of Nodism as described in the Dan Zen Creativity Framework were not mentioned in a comprehensive and concise way in his years of training.

Nodism on the face of it seems simple and perhaps obvious but in years of scouring resources, Dan Zen has found nothing like the Isomorphisms of Hierarchy. Noam Chomsky has sketches of hierarchy diagrams to discuss language but these seem to be for another purpose.

Dan Zen would be happy to present on Creativity and/or Nodism. Please leave a message here and we will get in touch.

We leave you with a TEDx Hamilton talk by Dan Zen:

Dan Zen TEDx talk: Simply Inventive — No More Waiting for Aha!

All the best,

Dr Abstract

Written by

Inventor, Founder of ZIM JavaScript Canvas Framework and Nodism, Professor of Interactive Media at Sheridan, Canadian New Media Awards Programmer and Educator

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