Re: [xmca] mythic/theoretic/virtual cultures?

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane <ana who-is-at>
Date: Sun Jun 17 2007 - 10:53:55 PDT

I have a similar quantity of questions and half baked thoughts.

For instance, What do we gain and what do we lose when we erase the
asymmetry between thoughts and tools. On one hand, I do agree with the
inseparable connection between the two phenomena and I still see them as
two phenomena -- or two different parts of the system. But to me it
seems that creating a total symmetry is the same as saying that they
have the same functions within the system. And that in turn annihilates
the idea of mediation. Although David and Katherine claim that "all
action arises from a process of mutual mediation" (p. 289 -second
paragraph from the bottom), it seems to me that meaning is constructed
because there are different types of mediation within this system which
are asymmetrical and which allow for the internal dynamic, polyphony and
creative restructuring. In this sense, I think that with denying the
"analytic priority to humans" they are also throwing the baby with the
bath water. In other words, I can see multiple and mutual mediation in
the system, but I also see mutually asymmetrical kinds of mediation. It
is not only asymmetrical between people and tools/symbols, but it is
also asymmetrical between people - which something like AC/DC -
constantly changing directions of asymmetry.

Another puzzle that I see as built into this theoretical model is the
question of weather it is possible to "internalize" insights and
knowledge which is constructed through the distributed mind -- in other
words - is knowledge still possible? This view comes close to erasing
the distinction between ontology and epistemology -- and if not what is
the difference between the two in the light of this theory?


Mike Cole wrote:
> David and Katherine's toolforthought has stimulated so many different
> thoughts in so many different directions that I am uncertain where to
> begin
> in seeking to discuss it. Tony has urged that we read it in light of
> ideas
> in acting with technology, and it have spent a few hours with that book.
> I was pushed back to earlier discussions of CHAT and Actor Network Theory
> (ANT) and with help from you, have been able to recover Reijo's
> discussion of that aspect of the discussion (there is a discussion of
> these
> relations in Acting with Technology).
> Of the many potential starting places, the one at the top of the
> jumble in
> my head at this moment is the relationship between the idea of
> toolforthought,
> what is referred to in the abstract as new media (which I believe gets
> refined later to new computational media enabling complex
> simulations), and
> the
> "forms" of culture indexed by the adjectives mythic/theoretic/virtual
> culture..
> I have two confusions here.
> First, to what extent is it helpful to characterize entire cultural
> systems
> by the dominant modes of tool mediation? Were the people who
> constructed and
> used
> Stonehenge restricted to mythic thinking/narrative? Does Seymor Papert
> pondering the terrible accident that befell him in Hanoi think about it
> virtually? Theoretically?
> Do old forms disappear when when forms emerge?
> Second, and related, to what extent is the idea of toolforthought
> dependent
> upon such new media? For most of the article, it seems to me that the
> idea
> applies no less
> to people sitting on the lip of the caves of Lascaux, observing the moon,
> and inscribing its phases on a piece of bone than to my grandson playing
> world of warcraft. At
> other times it appeared (as in the statement in the abstract) that it was
> the new forms of computational media that give rise to a new culture
> and a
> new mode of thought
> where toolforthought applies.
> Plenty more questions.
> What do you think?
> (The now-absent-from-this-discussion-Eugene hereby invoked tentatively
> as a
> toolforthought)
> mike
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

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Received on Sun Jun 17 10:57 PDT 2007

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