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RE: [xmca] Thoughts on Digital Technologies and Poverty

These different additions to Mike's poverty and digital conundrum are really
interesting. I think that there is a general problem of how the intervention
is planned. I your story Larry one wonders whether the homeless had a voice.
Obviously from the outside we would think that teachers are happy to have
computers that should better their students' results and the homeless can
only be happy having a residence in an apartment building but the question
that comes to my mind is how exactly are they to negotiate the gap and do
they want to negotiate the gap. 

When I was an undergraduate I read an article of which I cannot remember the
title about tramps in Paris. A home was created for them only to find that
they then lost their identity... they became tramples and most preferred to
return to their tramp life which then lead to the creation of tramp open air

I wonder whether tramps are connected:)


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Larry Purss
Sent: samedi 1 janvier 2011 17:28
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Thoughts on Digital Technologies and Poverty

Happy New Year everyone and a time for reflection and reflexive chat.

I have a holiday story that has also left me very reflective about how deep
seated are the difficulties of responding to "poverty issues"

In Vancouver, there is a very progressive society [the Lookout society] who
are responding to the poverty issues on the downtown eastside.  After many
years of trying "santa's helpers" models of offering "relief" and "handouts"
to mitigate the "fruits" of poverty this organization recognized the central
need for person's to have a secure "dwelling" or "physical space" to create
a sense of safety and stability.  The lookout society has done a wonderful
job leveraging "city" and "provincial" [not national] money to repair over a
dozen derelict flop houses and create bachelor suites where "homeless"
persons are able to access a secure dwelling.  They also provide "health and
community services" to assist [scaffolld] the residents with their "basic"

I want to emphasize how I support and appreciate the intentions and actions
of the lookout society and their heroic and visionary response to an
impossible situation of persons who are "homeless".

The next part of my story captures the depth of the difficulties that must
be overcome that go beyond offering a "secure base" [though the secure base
IS a PRIMARY NEED]. It was Christmas day and  I went down to visit with a
person I know in his "home" in this wonderful NEW modern suite with his own
kitchen and bathroom.  He was not home so I visited with the person at the
front desk who was busy preparing a Christmas dinner for all the residents.
The round tables [5 people to a table Andy'] were decorated.  Appetizers put
on a central table. Turkey cooking in the oven. Christmas music playing
through the loud speakers.

I was touched and moved by the care and commitment that was being
"expressed" and "performed" to offer an experience of connection and
"belonging" in a celebratory setting.  I thought to myself THIS is the MODEL
of how to respond to "homelessness"

The next part of this Christmas story is the aspect which left me
"reflective".  I asked my friend whose "home" is in this apartment building
how Christmas dinner went?  His answer was a surprise to me.  He said that
he had brought a friend over and the two of them, one other resident and the
person who prepared the meal sat down and had a wonderful dinner.  The other
residents, one by one, came down, filled their plates, AND RETURNED TO THEIR

Now this story is an extreme example of the profound dislocations in many
people's lives and how "dis-connected" from others in a way that gives them
an experience that they "matter".  It is clear many moves or "positions"
could have been taken [examples are making the preparation of the food more
inclusive, giving a set time to eat,  having all the plates "set" at the
table, etc]  My bigger point is to "explore the notion of secure base" as
dwelling.  Rod Parker's continuing to remind us that it is not "the
scaffolding" or building "structures" that "contain" our existence that is
PRIMARY. It is the intersubjective experience of MATTERING to others WITHIN
the "contained dwellings"  Structure and function are two sides of the same
coin and we cannot have "dialogue" or "discourse" without scaffolding and
structure and CONTAINMENT
answer is often to provide A PLACE FROM which TO EXPLORE, be creative, etc.
The place of "imitation" needs to be elaborated within these metaphors of
"containment" and "journey" [narrative]. However, with Rod Parker, the
centrality of experiencing "delight" in the "attunement" or "engagement" of
from which to begin.  From this primary ground we can "reflect" be
reflexive" and "react" TOWARDS others and self in constituting our


On Sat, Jan 1, 2011 at 7:20 AM, Denise Newnham <dsnewnham@bluewin.ch> wrote:

> Thanks Andy this is digressing slightly from the poverty ipod discussion
> initiated by Mike.
> Interesting space and computer quota solution enabled teachers with
> computer
> literacy and perhaps children with computer literacy in a system that was
> perhaps conducive pedagogically ... Many countries in Southern Africa (at
> least public schools) cannot brag of these developments. But one thing
> is visible are creative kids that find ways of interacting with ICT's
> outside of the school arena, the down side is that this intimidates
> teachers
> that don't have the know how... calls for a mini ICT revolution of an
> entire
> educational system and not a stick on band aid:)
> Denise
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
> Behalf Of Andy Blunden
> Sent: samedi 1 janvier 2011 14:00
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Thoughts on Digital Technologies and Poverty
> Reading Yrjo's paper reminds me: many years ago when I was "Teaching
> Space Consultant" and Melbourne University (a job title the
> administration hope would quietly keep me out of the way) and I was at
> last making progress in convincing teaching staff that I could succeed
> in convincing the management to allow us to start redesigning the
> teaching rooms etc around how the teaching staff actually wanted to
> teach, instead of how architects remembered University in the 1960s or
> whatever. Then the University was given money by a charity to build a
> "Collaborative Learning Centre" in the Library where students could
> access it for long hours. (A game-changing opportunity, but it was a
> fait acompli by the time I heard about it).
> So what was their conception of "collaborative learning"? - they bought
> about 100 computers, most of them were put in little carrels so designed
> that it was impossible even for a student to look over another student's
> shoulder, and the other half they put in 2 "laboratories" where the each
> student was hidden behind a screen and the teacher stood at a high bench
> at the front of the room and shouted into space. But it was
> "collaborative" because they were using software.
> Once the place had been opened, with the aid of the full-time staff put
> there to offer technical support to students (Christ! If we'd had
> technical assistance in every seminar room!), we got some round tables
> made up for about 5 students per table, and placed one computer per
> table so groups of students could share it and talk about the work etc
> But on the other hand, a couple of weeks ago I attended a "local ISCAR"
> conference in Melbourne where people presented papers, and one of the
> papers was about how to train teachers to use a room like one I designed
> in collaboration with a teacher back in 1999. Apparently they are to be
> found all over the state nowadays. So it was nice to know that I hadn't
> been wasting my time. And teh round tables are still in use to this day.
> Andy
> Apologies for dumping on everyone. I should get over it!
> Denise Newnham wrote:
> > Dear Mike and Yrjo and all xmca
> >
> > First of all I wish you a very successful and happy 2011.
> >
> > Mike the dilemma is one that to my mind hits the poverty sections the
> worst.
> > As we saw in our CRADLE project in Botswana (Africa) and ICT's in
> schools,
> > it is taken for granted that ICT's will be the answer to weak school
> > results. How to get heads of educational departments to understand that
> > ICT's are not a quick fix is really difficult. On the other hand
> well-to-do
> > companies spend fortunes on installing computer rooms without having
> > estimated the use potential. I must admit I share your feelings in the
> lack
> > of expansive potential in this type of thinking and when I look around
> and
> > see the poverty level and all that carelessly wasted money I feel a
> degree
> > of despair. Many children in Botswana do not even enter the school yard
> > which signifies intellectual poverty.
> >
> >  It is true that part of this dilemma in Africa is where to begin. Many
> > rural people do have cell phones although they are not iphones. I found
> this
> > out on a bus journey at three in the morning between Maun and Gaborone.
> > woman clothed in rags climbed on board at some remote spot and put her
> very
> > wet baby on my lap while she retrieved her cell phone from her ample
> breasts
> > and proceeded to chat away happily until a second cell phone rang and
> > retrieved this from the same locus and spoke on both phones alternately.
> She
> > did no however appear to have money for diapers or school fees. Perhaps
> this
> > is a sign of the south meeting the west in the 21century but I don't
> think
> > that this is going to bridge the poverty gap.
> >
> > Obviously we have another type of looming poverty in the 21c which comes
> in
> > the form of displaced peoples. As European countries tighten up on their
> > immigration laws poorer countries will be the destination for growing
> > numbers of refugees and asylum seekers (cf. statistics for South Africa
> in
> > 2010). What forms of education will these people then obtain? It seems
> my
> > mind that the educational gap is going to widen on this planet and I
> don't
> > see how computers are going to step in unless in a truly expansive
> fashion
> > as indicated by Yrjo's article. Just as a matter of interest have you
> read
> > the article by Bhabha (1996) entitled 'culture's in-between'? (this was
> to
> > Mike)
> >
> > Well... happy 2011
> > Denise
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
> On
> > Behalf Of mike cole
> > Sent: samedi 1 janvier 2011 05:55
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
> > Cc: Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition Internal List
> > Subject: [xmca] Thoughts on Digital Technologies and Poverty
> >
> > A quiet evening in a warm dry home sure is a nice place from which to
> look
> > forward, backward, and around on a New Year's eve. For a variety of
> reasons,
> > I wrote down the following thoughts. Bail at any time!  :-)
> > mike
> > ---------------
> >
> > Thoughts About Digital Technology and Poverty
> >
> >
> >
> > The other day I spoke with a friend, the son of a former college, who is
> now
> > a professor in a technologically sophisticated field at a major American
> > university. We were talking about an iphone application related to
> > education. He thought that the iphone could revolutionize education,
> > "pushing knowledge out to everyone." I commented that the young people
> > the housing project where I work did not generally own i-phones. Sure
> some
> > of them texted and all coveted mp3 players, but on the cheapest versions
> of
> > the requisite technologies. My friend dismissed my concerns about
> reliance
> > on educational practices that excluded a large part of the population on
> the
> > basis of class, and hence, ethnicity. It was a new idea for him. Can't
> > afford an iphone? Really?
> >
> >
> >
> > The following morning I met a colleague who volunteers to work with
> at
> > the housing project to provide additional resources for the families who
> > live there. Christmas is a special time for charities. All is good
> > The kids get to "shop with a cop" and the parents get some help as well.
> My
> > colleague and a few co-workers organize "Secret Santas" from our
> university,
> > arranging for those of us with money to provide Christmas presents for
> > "needy families." Kind of like the NY Times holiday fund raising drive.
> >
> >
> >
> > A few days before Christmas, the Santa's helpers delivered the goods:
> food,
> > clothing, bedding, toys for the kids, Avon kits for the mom's. Something
> for
> > everyone. At the apartment where I was a Secret Santa (having
> > donated my money and presents in place of my time and presence) things
> did
> > not go as planned. Santa's helpers knew that the family wanted a bed for
> two
> > of the children. So they planned to deliver a bunkbed. But when they
> > arrived, they found that there was no furniture in the house at all,
> except
> > two sofas, taken out of the dumpster by other tenants who had been
> to
> > leave the project because they could no longer afford to pay the
> subsidized
> > rent.
> >
> >
> >
> > The dad was home, and so was his almost-grown son. They are both looking
> for
> > work. They are attending classes at a local job-training center. So far,
> no
> > luck.  They could still pay the rent on the apartment. And the kids
> > get by on the meals they could provide. But when the unemployment checks
> > stop coming, as they soon will, it seems like they may be the next
> tenants
> > to move out. Out to where? God only knows.
> >
> >
> >
> > "You know," my colleague mused after she and her coworkers had recruited
> > more Santas Helpers to round up the needed furniture and food, "those
> people
> > really have it hard. They are looking for work, but there is no work
> > anywhere in that neighborhood, not for miles around. And they don't have
> > cars. Even if they find a job, how will they get there in a town like
> this?
> > They are very discouraged. I would be too. I sure feel lucky to have a
> > steady job here."
> >
> >
> >
> > When I arrived home with this story, my wife, shook her head and
> > "You don't know even where to begin."
> >
> >
> >
> > I started to think about the impact of new severe cuts in family
> > that California is facing and the disastrous level of unemployment which
> is
> > unlikely to come down any time soon for these people. Then the
> conversation
> > with my high tech professorial friend came to mind. No, you don't know
> where
> > to beign, I replied, But wherever you start, I don't think it should be
> with
> > the educational potential of i-phones.
> > __________________________________________
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> >
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> >
> >
> >
> --
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> Joint Editor MCA: http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Journal/
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>
> Videos: http://vimeo.com/user3478333/videos
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