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[Xmca-l] Re: Why Computers Make So Little Difference



I apologize for penning/pinning the word, vulgar on you, David. My fault
entirely. I was thinking of the term vulgar marxism and thinking about the
relation of means/relations of production to the s-o versus s-s contrast in
your note which I think is central.

As I wrote in an earlier note in this thread, I think that the question you
are raising between crude and lets call them more refined elaborations of
CHAT ideas are central to the much larger question of the historical
relations between human activities and their means.

So, thanks for catching me up on using language that can be taken as
inflamatory.
Maybe crude can be so taken, but it works for me.

As you noted in an earlier message, the forms of instruction (obuchenie)
implemented in typical language labs when I was a grad student treat the
form of learning involved as a-social....... its all between the individual
(subject) and the pre-defined set of learning goals embodied (in the case
of a language lab) in presumed mastery of the materials...... as measured
by later, ordinarily written exams.

I would never have thought about these in relation to AT, and Leontiev (and
his son!) railed against such practices, because they were typical "S-R
theorist" fantasies. But in so far as they appear in pedagogical
arrangements purporting to use a chat analysis, they count as very crude to
me. I still need to check the examples, but I assume they all fit.

It clearly will be difficult to get people to read your book as entry point
to the discussion, David. I believe some of your own work in second
language instruction would provide a lot quicker access. My point in asking
was to try to externalize forms of theory-methodology- practice that avoid
the pitfalls of crude/over-simplified thinking that is merely
recapitulating old errors.

If the topic is of interest to others we can come back to it. Or, if not,
things will amble along
as they do.

mike




On Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 1:45 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:

> I confess to being quite uncomfortable with Mike's substitution of "vulgar"
> for my "crude". Structurally, a theory that is "crude" is simple (e.g. a
> theory that does not distinguish between signs and tools but lumps them
> both under the single category of "artifact") but a theory that is "vulgar"
> can be very complex indeed (e.g. pornography as a model of sexuality, or
> sit-coms as a model of family relations). Functionally, a theory that is
> crude works extremely well for a limited number of applications (e.g.
> behaviorism, which is actually a pretty good description of the lower
> psychological functions) but a theory which is vulgar is in some ways the
> opposite: widespread because it works badly for a very large number of
> applications (e.g. bureaucracy). Above all, though, they are different
> genetically: a crude theory is one that has just begun and is in the
> process of being refined, while a vulgar theory is one that is clearly in
> decline.
>
> I'm even more uncomfortable with the idea that I am supposed to name the
> names of "vulgar" AT people and suggest exemplars of subtle and refined
> practitioners.  Actually, when I gave references from MCA, I wasn't passing
> judgment on the authors or even on their articles; the page references I
> refer to are neither authors nor articles but only diagrammes which either:
>
> a) do not distinguish between tools (subject-to-object) and signs
> (subject-to-subject)
> b) DO distinguish between an "object" and an "outcome", and/or
> c) treat the use of signs as the acting of a subject upon an object rather
> than the action of one human consciousness upon another.
>
> I admit that I sort of deserved this, because my initial post used
> rhetorical tropes like "your average psychotic serial killer" and drew
> heavily on personal experience instead of sticking to a fairly generic
> attack on the usual culprits (e.g. bureaucracy and positivism). In any
> case, turn about is fair play--there was a fair a mount of my yanking
> everybody's chain (or rather their extension cord) in the subject line of
> this thread. But there is a real problem: how do we make our contributions
> to xmca colorful and readable without annoying others? How to start a
> lively discussion without starting flame wars? I think, actually, Helena's
> idea of not apostrophizing anybody is, at bottom, a good one, but the fact
> that I just broke it without really meaning to shows that it is not very
> practical.
>
> Mike also invites me to name works that I consider exemplary: now here is a
> trap I will gladly fall into. I am not sure this is the best one, Mike, but
> it is certainly the book I turn to most often and the one that I know best
> (for example, I was teaching it last night in my wildly unpopular course on
> story telling). More, it is the book I find it hardest to live up to:
>
>
> https://www.sensepublishers.com/media/2096-the-great-globe-and-all-who-it-inherit.pdf
>
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>
>
> On 12 March 2015 at 10:15, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
>
> > Thanks for pushing this inquiry of mine another few paces up the hill,
> > David. I believe I have all those issues of MCA to hand. I'll scout them
> > out and consider them in light of the distinction between vulgar and
> > less-vulgar forms of activity theory. But see if I have this straight.
> >
> > A vulgar AT person reduces mental life to a subject-object dualism in
> which
> > the fact of an always present subject-subject (essential!) relationship
> is
> > obliterated in one way or another.
> > I expect that each of your examples will show problem in its own way, but
> > the directionality of the reduction is clear.
> >
> > I believe that this is a common interpretation of Leontiev's form of AT.
> > The Rubenshteinians' slogan was "All to the subject" in protest.
> >
> > I will start looking for the examples you picked out for us. Might you,
> as
> > a further step, provide examples from published studies (not necessarily
> in
> > MCA which denies any claim to AT-guru status!) that support
> > non-reductionist versions of AT? Who should we be emulating?
> >
> > I'll stick with this topic, although the general issues of history of
> > mediational means and their activity doppelgangers  that others are
> > dangling before us is very tempting. As I wrote previously, I think a
> > common approach to making both subject-object/and subject-subject
> relations
> > BOTH a part of our analyses would be a positive step. Then we might be
> able
> > to complexify.
> >
> > hedgehog for now
> > mike
> >
> > On Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 2:52 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Human language learning at the University of Chicago in the
> mid-seventies
> > > (which I did as an undergraduate in the Chinese department) was a lot
> > like
> > > rodent maze-learning. You checked into the language laboratory for two
> > > hours of drilling almost every day. It went something like this:
> > >
> > > TAPE RECORDER: "Ni you shu mei you?--piao" (Do you have a book--a
> ticket)
> > > STUDENT: "Ni you piao mei you?" (Do you have a ticket?)
> > > TAPE RECORDER: "Ni you piao mei you?" (Do you have a ticket?)
> > > STUDENT: "Ni you piao mei you?" (Do you have a ticket?)
> > >
> > > As you can see, there's a stimulus, a response, a reinforcement, and
> an a
> > > reinforcement of the reinforcement, just to be extra sure. That was
> from
> > > the educational psychology point of view then current, which Mike may
> > well
> > > recognize from HIS undergraduate days.
> > >
> > > >From the early activity theory point of view, I take it what I was
> doing
> > > was something like this: I was the subject, the language laboratory
> was a
> > > tool/sign artefact, the correct model was the object upon which I was
> > > operating and the correct response was the outcome. The rules were
> that I
> > > was to do this five days a week, and there was a sign-in sheet
> delivered
> > to
> > > a teaching assistant on a weekly basis. The community, therefore, did
> not
> > > include a professor, but it did include a fellow student paid minimum
> > wage
> > > to supervise the language laboratory (I speak feelingly, I did it
> before
> > I
> > > got a better paying job as a janitor), and I could glimpse of the tops
> of
> > > the heads of my classmates in other cubicles when I stood up to leave
> > after
> > > two hours. Such was the division of labor.
> > >
> > > You can see this fairly crude version of AT in a lot of articles in
> MCA.
> > In
> > > Vol. 15, No. 3, on p. 182, Wolff-Michael Roth uses it to lay out the
> A.N.
> > > Leontiev's prototypical primitive communism situation (the hunters and
> > > beaters). Iin vol. 15, No 4. on p. 327, Helena Worthen uses it to talk
> > > about teaching people to negotiate working conditions. In Vol. 16, No.
> 2,
> > > on p. 136, Norman Friesen uses something even more crude--the so-called
> > > speech circuit, from Saussure's 1911 Course in General Linguistics
> > > (complete with droopy lines connecting a speaker's mouth to a hearer's
> > > ear!) I take it that the model of language in ALL of these is basically
> > > that of my old language laboratory: the objects of language are
> > essentially
> > > objects without minds, aspects of the environment to be acted upon in
> > order
> > > to achieve particular outcomes, no different from a stone to be made
> > into a
> > > tool, or a mastodon to be transformed into dinner.
> > >
> > > The problem is that this view of language is essentially that of your
> > > average psychotic serial killer. It doesn't capture the simple fact
> that
> > > the object of language is not an object at all, but rather a fellow
> > > subject--often--yea, if we believe Chomsky, most often, that is, in the
> > > vast majority of instances of language use we encounter in a single
> > > day--the object is actually myself. I think there are some uses of AT
> > (even
> > > the Engestrom triangle) which very clearly DO take this into account. I
> > > have seen some versions of the Engestrom triangle where it is used to
> > link
> > > two subjects and there is no object at all. In Vol. 13, No. 4,
> Katherine
> > > Brown and Jule Gomez de Garcia point out that even in the unnatural
> > > conditions of language use we find in a literacy classroom, the object
> of
> > > language use is always SHARED with other human subjects.
> > >
> > > In 1984, eight years after I'd left the University of Chicago, I found
> > > myself on a bus in Beijing. The bus was full as only Beijing buses
> could
> > be
> > > in those days, and a scratchy din emanated from a tiny loudspeaker near
> > > where I was standing. I watched as people one by one got on the bus,
> > pushed
> > > their way to the conductor, and bought a ticket, and only then did I
> > > realize that the loudspeaker was a human voice saying:
> > >
> > > "Mei piao mai piao, a! Mei piao mai piao, a!"
> > >
> > > In other words, "Do you have a ticket?"
> > >
> > > David Kellogg
> > > Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On 12 March 2015 at 01:11, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
> > >
> > > > It is great to see this discussion broaden out temporally to take us
> > back
> > > > to the oldest of communications media we can manage. The question
> > raised
> > > in
> > > > this manner is more or less what we set out to explore when we
> created
> > a
> > > > Department of Communication at UCSD with checkered success.
> > > >
> > > > Very interesting to see the lists and previously unspeaking voices
> > > appear,
> > > > almost as if a minicurriculum in "The history of human mediational
> > means
> > > > and their associated lifeworlds" were lurking out there in xmca-land.
> > > >
> > > > To help me understand just a corner of this vaste terrain, might you,
> > > > David, expand on these comments:
> > > >
> > > > Nevertheless, the tape recorder has had an impact on pedagogy that is
> > > > almost negligible. In EFL, where I now work, it served to make a huge
> > > > amount of money for the distributors of language laboratories. But
> > > language
> > > > laboratories worked by fencing learners into cubicles, and *replacing
> > > the*
> > > >
> > > > *subject-subject relation we find in natural language use with
> > > > asubject-object relation which we find in crude versions of Activity
> > > > Theory.*
> > > >
> > > > Given our ongoing discussions about the varieties of and attitudes
> > toward
> > > > different versions of "THE" Activity Theory, it would help me to
> > > understand
> > > > clear examples of a crude version
> > > > of AT and how it is applied alongside a subtle/better version of AT
> and
> > > how
> > > > it is applied in a different way.
> > > >
> > > > I am conjecturing that if we could get some broad, "germ cell"
> > > > understanding of the issue in bold above, it might serve as an
> analytic
> > > > lens through which to view of the history of mediation and activity
> in
> > > > human life.
> > > > mike
> > > >
> > > > On Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 4:36 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu>
> > > > wrote:
> > > >
> > > > > Seven things I learned from What People Said About Books in 1498,
> by
> > > John
> > > > > H. Lienhard (http://www.uh.edu/engines/indiana.htm):
> > > > >
> > > > > 1. Sharing is a cultural invention, not a technological one.
> Sharing
> > > must
> > > > > be reinvented in each community and in each generation.
> > > > >
> > > > > 2. Caxton was not a cultural snob.
> > > > >
> > > > > 3. Margaret was one cool hipster.
> > > > >
> > > > > 4. Mennochio and I have a few things in common, but I hope to live
> to
> > > be
> > > > > an old woman and not charcoal on a stick.
> > > > >
> > > > > 5. I regret Lienhard's the analysis of Medieval scholars using
> > > > > Myers-Briggs. I wish that rubric would just die.
> > > > >
> > > > > 6. "We cannot have a clue as to what any technological future will
> be
> > > > > until we learn it from a new generation of users." <-- What he
> > said!!!
> > > > >
> > > > > 7. We can only know what we know when we have an idea what we don't
> > > know.
> > > > > Which is why I love what he said about seeking our ignorance. And:
> > "To
> > > > > impose is not to discover."  Yeah. That.
> > > > >
> > > > > Kind regards,
> > > > >
> > > > > Annalisa
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > --
> > > > It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an
> > > object
> > > > that creates history. Ernst Boesch.
> > > >
> > >
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an
> object
> > that creates history. Ernst Boesch.
> >
>



-- 
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an object
that creates history. Ernst Boesch.