Re: [xmca] Shotter on Clark

From: Tony Whitson <twhitson who-is-at UDel.Edu>
Date: Mon Sep 03 2007 - 10:02:07 PDT


Thank you for referring us to Shotter's review. It is remarkable in
several respects, not least the clarity of thought and expression.

(htm version of the review is at )

While I can see how Clark would have appeared interesting in terms of
"unit of analysis," it seems that viewing Shotter as differing with him on
THAT would be to suggest that the difference is methodological, when it
seems to me there's a more profound ontological difference between them.
Shotter is challenging the idea that this "unit of analysis" is even real,
not just its value for methodology.

>From a CHAT perspective, the relationship between Shotter's "spontaneous
interaction" and Wittgensteinian "rules" bears analysis in relation to
that between "operations" and aspects of "actions" and/or "activities."
The idea of "spontaneity" needs interrogation, it seems to me.

What do you think?

On Sun, 2 Sep 2007, Mike Cole wrote:

> I prefer to think of it as early in the month, Jay.
> Lots of good sugggestions there, some of which I am already considering or
> have decided upon.(olson, where is your review?)
> My mind this morning is going to burke and dramatism, ritual, etc.
> On a slightly different topic I attach John Shotter's interesting review of
> herb clark on joint, mediated, activity, as the unity of analaysis in the
> study
> of language/communication. The review lays out a really principled
> difference in the directions used for adopting this unit of analysis.
> I am undecided between raw bakhtin and a mixture of short originals and
> explications by clark and holquist on chronotopes and dialogism.
> Remember, I am teaching in a comm dept, not an ed department: both easier
> and harder.
> mike
> On 9/1/07, Jay Lemke <> wrote:
>> Mike,
>> Maybe getting a bit late in the week for these suggestions, but I
>> certainly find computer games, and much of the related new-media culture to
>> have interesting implications for how different media afford us different
>> "minds".
>> Very interesting to me is the work of Henry Jenkins, see essays in his (1)
>> Convergence Culture, and (2) Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers. Also useful of
>> course is Jim Gee's _What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning &
>> Literacy_. There are interesting pieces by Constance Steinkuehler (now
>> faculty at Wisconsin, former student of Gee's) on games and learning, and by
>> Mimi (Mizuko) Ito (Annenberg School, USC) on mobile phone culture in the US
>> and Japan. These are all more 'communication & society' oriented than
>> education oriented, though of course "learning" is a pivot term twixt the
>> two.
>> Ricki Goldman (NYU, ex MIT Media Lab) has been thinking and writing about
>> how video, particularly the making of amateur video, is a tool-for-thought.
>> She has an essay on this, and I have something related, in the new _Handbook
>> of Video Research in the Learning Sciences_, edited by Goldman, Roy Pea, et
>> al., just published.
>> The new McLuhan, in some respects, is Lev Manovich, and he does have
>> interesting things to say along these lines about new media in _The Language
>> of New Media_. I think he even pays homage to Marshall.
>> There are some useful citations at:
>> and
>> though these do not have the more complete bibliographies which are on
>> intranet sites on our campus. If you like, I can send or post them.
>> JAY.
>> PS. your idea of using Turkle and Wisdom of Crowds is creative, though the
>> latter disappointed a bit. And then there's always David Olson's _The World
>> on Paper_ (and my review of it!), if you want to really get your students
>> embroiled in the debates about writing as tool-for-thought!
>> BTW, Michael Halliday has written an extremely sophisticated essay
>> critiquing the narrowness of traditional cognitive science views of mind,
>> based on his general theory of meaning, which largely says that mind _is_
>> the process of construing/constructing meaning with symbolic resources,
>> particularly those of language and its implicit categories/relations. The
>> critique mainly says that cogsci does not understand the linguistic basis of
>> our culture's own folk theories of mind well enough to achieve its aim of
>> getting beyond them to something more "scientific". It can also be read as a
>> meta-theory of language as a tool-for-thought, and as an analysis of how
>> language is used differently to think 'scientifically' vs. in other ways. I
>> think it is beyond most grad students, however, and it requires a reasonable
>> background in the concepts of functional semantics and grammar. It's
>> published as chapter 14 in _Construing Experience through Meaning_, Halliday
>> & Matthiessen, 2000.
>> At 06:12 PM 8/29/2007, you wrote:
>> Dear Xmca-ites---
>> Toward the end of the month I will begin teaching a grad course on
>> mediational theories of mind.
>> I would love suggestions for interesting readings.
>> We will be looking in a sort of "mcLuhanesque" way at the affordances of
>> different kinds of mediators
>> in human action/activity/mind.
>> So, language and thought
>> writing
>> film
>> music
>> tv
>> rituals
>> games
>> .........
>> Starting with early 20th century writers of general familiarity to members
>> of this list, I have been thinking about including
>> such works as Cszikentmihalyi, "meaning of things," Turkle's recent
>> "evocative objects," and perhaps something on mediated
>> behavior in large groups such as "the wisdom of crowds."
>> Any and all suggestions warmly welcomed. So much going on its hard to even
>> think about how to begin to think about this
>> upcoming fall!!
>> mike
>> _______________________________________________
>> xmca mailing list
>> Jay Lemke
>> Professor
>> University of Michigan
>> School of Education
>> 610 East University
>> Ann Arbor, MI 48109
>> Tel. 734-763-9276
>> Email.
>> Website.
>> <>
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

Tony Whitson
UD School of Education

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
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Received on Mon Sep 3 10:10 PDT 2007

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