Re: [xmca] Copernicus 2.0 [toolforthoughts]

From: Mark Chen <markchen who-is-at>
Date: Sat Jun 30 2007 - 08:25:55 PDT


I am wondering if this could be done or if it has the same function as
getting people to see the larger picture and how they connect to others in a
larger system. What I wrote about specializing and knowing who knows what
could be done on an individual level whereas getting students or people to
learn how to learn would require a more community or network or systems or
meta way of thinking...

Also, here is my brief overview of Ian Bogost's unit operations (written

A unit could be likened to a genre cliché or an object in object-oriented
programming, though it is not exactly like either. Where genres can be
recognized by the clichés or conventions that have come to typify them, so
too can games be understood through the units within them. By doing so,
games can be placed into cross-media analyses when using the same units to
analyze other media. For example, if I were to say the phrases "high noon,"
"sheriff," and "outlaw", anyone at least superficially familiar with the
Western genre would know what I was describing. This is a story element, but
it also represents a certain cause-effect relationship or "operation" that
occurs at a specific moment within a larger narrative. Similar to objects in
programming, then, units have attributes that define them and how they
relate to other units. On the one hand, a game's content and the way in
which certain story elements fall into certain clichés help to classify the
game. On the other, games can also be understood as a collection of enacted
metaphors where the actions taken by players, and how these actions relate
to other elements in the game serve to define the game.

Michele Knobel and Colin Lankshear (2005) have been researching Internet
"memes" as cultural products that emerge out of specific affinity groups
into larger popular culture. Certain memes present counter-cultural ideas
through parodies or satires of popular culture and offer signs of rebellion
against a dominant social order. It may be fruitful to also consider units
as cultural products and that these can be reflections of particular
socio-political ideas. The unit in a game unlike memes, however, takes on a
special quality since it requires player participation and enactment. It
might be possible, then, to think about players as enacting political
discourse through certain units. If one considers that, in a game, units are
an amalgamation of story metaphors and player actions, perhaps we can say
that players themselves can be understood as units within a larger system.

So, to tie it back to the discussion on here, if units can be seen as
player-game (or user-tool), are they the same idea as toolforthoughts
(toolsforthought?--now I'm confused). Shaffer's recent book on epistemic
games makes the link even stronger I think, where players enact the behavior
of the identities games have them assume. The actions and identities are
not separable... right?


On 6/29/07, Lois Holzman <> wrote:
> This portion of Mark's interesting post has me asking, matters for what?
> And
> also suggesting for consideration that it might be desirable to break out
> of
> the knowledge paradigm more completely. How to find answers still has the
> product as a goal, to my reading. Maybe what matters for learning and
> development is learning how to learn, learning that we learn, and learning
> to create environments in which it's possible to learn that!
> Lois
> > From: Mark Chen <>
> > Reply-To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
> > Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2007 14:21:48 -0700
> > To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
> > Subject: Re: [xmca] Copernicus 2.0 [toolforthoughts]
> >
> > As far as what people should be learning... I agree with the sentiment
> that
> > it no longer matters what you know, only that you know how to find
> answers.
> > If those answers lie with a friend in your social network or perhaps
> with
> > some sort of computational model (that you have access to), you've
> > successfully navigated our new virtual culture. That implies, however,
> that
> > *someone* (or I guess *something*) needs to know the answers. I think
> it is
> > enough for people to specialize, so long as other people are learning
> how to
> > access these deep pockets of knowledge, and so long as *all* people are
> > afforded the same access. Public education, then, would have to be
> > reconfigured to reward and nurture different social networks while at
> the
> > same time letting students specialize and make available their
> > specializations to the community.
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

Mark Chen | grad student | games researcher/designer | tech instructor | U
of Washington
xmca mailing list
Received on Sat Jun 30 08:27 PDT 2007

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