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[Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

Yes, I agree. My own interest is in social theory and I'd never heard of "boundary objects." It seems to me that what BOs do is introduce some social theory into domains of activity (scientific and work collaborations for example) where the participants naively think they are collaborating on neutral ground. So it is not just granularity, but also the ideological context.

In Yjro Engestrom's article, the home care workers collaborate with the old couple according to rules and regulations, communications resources, technology, finance and so on, which in the unnamed country, the old couple are apparently cast as "patients". Isn't it the case that here it is those rules and regulations, etc., which are the "boundary objects"?

*Andy Blunden*
On 20/07/2015 11:13 PM, Rolf Steier wrote:
I think that a particular institution or government system could potentially be a boundary object depending on how the concept is applied. Star describes three criteria: 1) interpretive flexibility 2) material/ organizational structure and 3) scale/ granularity in which the concept is useful.

She argues that boundary objects are typically most useful at the organizational level - so I would say that one would have to justify the utility of applying the concept to a particular institution, as opposed to, say, an object within an institution.

On Mon, Jul 20, 2015 at 2:46 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    So would it be correct to describe the government
    institutions and political system are "boundary objects"?
    *Andy Blunden*
    On 20/07/2015 9:42 PM, Rolf Steier wrote:

        Hi Andy -
        Good catch! I believe that is a typo and should
        read "despite a LACK of consensus". Thank you for
        pointing that out.

        I also wanted to follow up on a suggestion that
        Greg made in the other thread suggesting we look
        at David McNeill's work. I had only been familiar
        with his earlier work on gesture, but after doing
        a bit of reading over the weekend, I found his
        concept of  'unexpected metaphors' potentially
        useful in dealing with some of my questions.(

        Here is a relevant quote describing unexpected
        metaphors as a form of gesture:

            /The logic is that unexpected metaphors arise
        from the
            need to create images when the culture does
        not have
            them readily at hand. These images join linguistic
            content as growth points and differentiate what
            Vygotsky (1987) called psychological
        predicates, or
            points of contrast in the immediate ongoing
        context of
            speaking. Unexpected metaphors, precisely
        because they
            are outside the conventions of language and
            can capture abstractions in novel ways and
        provide the
            fluidity of thought and language that is the
            of ongoing discourse./

        On Mon, Jul 20, 2015 at 1:00 PM, Andy Blunden
        <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>> wrote:

            Rolf, what did you mean by "the achievement of
            cooperation despite consensus"?
            p. 131,

            *Andy Blunden*
            On 17/07/2015 8:45 AM, Rolf Steier wrote:

                Are we allowed to ask questions about our
        paper as
                well? I hope so!

                For a little context -in our paper, we
                particular kinds of
                episodes in which participants from different
                disciplines seek coherence
                and continuity of shared representations
                bodily action. These
                actions include gesture, movement and physical
                performance linking the
                present material artifacts to objects of
                Most of these episodes
                seem to involve some form of improvisation,
                resourcefulness or creativity,
                and I'm not fully sure how to characterize
                aspects of the
                interactions. In most cases, the
        participants seem
                to be searching for the
                best words or material representation to
        convey a
                particular intention -
                when this becomes problematic or limiting
        - they
                almost fall back on what
                is available - these improvised bodily
                performances - as a way of
                maintaining continuity, and of inviting
                co-participants into a shared and
                imagined space. These bodily actions don't
        seem to
                begin the proposals, but
                are in a sense *discovered* by the

                I think there is something really fascinating
                about this kind of creativity
                and resourcefulness in interaction that
        could be
                explored more deeply - and
                that I'm having trouble articulating.
        Maybe some
                of you have some thoughts
                on this? Alfredo - I know we've talked
        about this
                a bit before so maybe you
                can add a little clarity to my question.

                On Thu, Jul 16, 2015 at 9:37 PM, HENRY SHONERD

                    Thank you very much for the sketch of your
                    roots. I taught English in
                    Puigcerda and Barcelona for 5 years
        back in
                    the early 70s, just before
                    Franco died. (He died the day I
        boarded the
                    plane back to the U.S.) Place
                    and language are interesting,
        especially where
                    language varieties meet.
                    Boundaries. I know mostly from my
                    with the music of Catalunya
                    and Mallorca that the speech
        communities in
                    each of those places treasure
                    their unique languages (Catalan and
                    Mallorquin), yet see a commonality
                    vis-a-vis their separateness from
                    Spanish, the national language
                    of Spain from 1492 on. I see a parallel
                    between your work on boundary
                    objects, where individual persons
                    to create spaces, AND
                    boundary objects “negotiated” by groups of
                    people who live in real spaces.
                    I am thinking, among other things, of
                    indigeneity, a big topic here in New
                    Mexico, with so many Native Americans.
                    Assymetries of power. Bullying.
                    Testing and curriculum become
        instruments of
                    war by other means. I hope my
                    tone does not distract from, nor
        diminish, the
                    optimism created by this
                    thread. Yet I think that optimism is so
                    precious because of the ground (the
                    world) of the dialog.

                        On Jul 16, 2015, at 12:13 PM, Alfredo
                        Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no


                        Well, you could say that I am partly
                        Catalan. I grew up in the province

                    of Valencia, where Catalan language is
                    official language together with
                    Castilian Spanish. Although Valencia (the
                    county) and Catalonia are
                    different regional counties, Catalan
        is spoken
                    in Catalonia, Valencia, and
                    the Balear Islands. Some call the three
                    together as the Catalan Countries.
                    I don't like borders, but I respect
        and enjoy
                    cultural diversity.

                        Standardized testing, and the whole
                        assumptions behind it, are an issue

                    also in Spain and in Catalonia; but
                    has been so battered during
                    the last years of right-wing
        government that I
                    the debate have been more
                    about means and access than about
        contents and
                    aims. Which in some sense
                    may be good because it moves the
        debates away
                    from performance. But I have
                    been living outside of Spain for eight
                    now, so I am not the best to
                    update you on this either.

                        Best wishes,

        <mailto:iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu>>> on
                    behalf of
                    HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com

                        Sent: 16 July 2015 19:54
                        To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
                        Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of
                        Boundary Objects

                        Yes, you have answered my question
                        nicely! I especially appreciate

                    that you were willing to wrestle with my
                    question, despite your lack of
                    familiarity with the issues here in
        the U.S.
                    Am I wrong, or are you
                    Catalan? In which case your experience in
                    Catalunya would take you to a
                    different place in critiquing
        schooling there,
                    though not necessarily
                    unconnected to yours and Rolf’s work on
                    boundary objects. I just met for
                    the second day in a row with a friend
        who is
                    the liaison between our public
                    school district and a children’s science
                    museum called Explora. I feel like
                    I’m swimming in this thread, talk about a
                    mixed metaphor!


                            On Jul 16, 2015, at 12:18 AM,
                            Jornet Gil
        <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no <mailto:a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>


                            I am sorry, Henry, but I am
        not very
                            familiar with high-stakes

                    standardized testing (as different to
                    standardized testing in general) or
                    with common core (which I quickly read
        is an
                    issue in US). But I would say
                    that, if (school) curricula were to be
                    consistent with the view of
                    education as the practice of creating
                    conditions for certain attitudes and
                    dispositions to emerge--which is what
        I was
                    suggesting in the paragraph you
                    copy--curricula would not be so much about
                    standardized contents, but about
                    human sensitivities and relations. So,
        I would
                    say, no, standardized
                    testing is not in principle in line
        with what
                    I was trying to say.

                            I was trying to make a distinction
                            between trying to design someone's

                    particular experience, and trying to
                    conditions for the development
                    of attitudes and orientations. The
        first is
                    likely impossible. The second
                    seems to make more sense.

                            One may of course wonder
        whether those
                            attitudes and orientations can

                    be considered general, and then form
        part of
                    standardize measures instead
                    of the traditional "contents and
        skills". But
                    measuring assumes some
                    quantitative increment in a particular
                    as the result of learning.
                    Growth and development, however, are about
                    qualitative change. So, as soon
                    as you start measuring you would be
                    growth and development. So,
                    again, no. I would not say that
                    standardized testing is in line
                    with what I was trying to say.

                            I hope I have answered your

        <mailto:iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu>>> on
                    behalf of
                    HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com

                            Sent: 16 July 2015 07:48
                            To: eXtended Mind, Culture,
                            Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The
        Emergence of
                            Boundary Objects

                            Alfredo, you say:

                            "However, we cannot aim at
                            any particular

                    situation/experience. The same may be said
                    about EDUCATION. We cannot
                    intend to communicate the curriculum
        and make
                    it the content of the
                    students' experience in the way we
        intend. But
                    we can try to create the
                    conditions for certain attitudes and
                    dispositions to emerge."

                            Would you say that high-stakes
                            standardized testing is in
        line with

                    your construal of curriculum design?
        How about
                    common core?


                                On Jul 15, 2015, at 5:29 PM,
                                Alfredo Jornet Gil


                                Thanks a lot for the
                                clarifications. I see now
        why it
                                may be said that

                    designers can aim at designing for
                    but not for affordances. I
                    see that this way of talking is part of a
                    designers' way to get things
                    done, and that it may indeed be an
                    way to design for
                    place-making, as in the example that
                    gives of MOMA. Indeed, much of
                    what we report in our study is about
                    talking about how spatial
                    features might afford some experiences
        in the
                    museum while constraining

                                I must admit, however, that I
                                still consider the distinction

                    problematic from an analytical perspective
                    whenever our object of study is
                    experience, situated action, or design as
                    situated practice. A more correct
                    way to talk is that affordances and
                    are the positive and
                    negative sides/interpretations of a single
                    unitary category. As an actual
                    and concrete phenomenon, walking into
        a musuem
                    implies both affordances and
                    constrains at the same time, whether
                    or not. Which makes me wonder
                    whether other terminology, such as
                    notion of "correspondence,"
                    might be more appropriated when we
        talk about
                    how materials and actions
                    become entangled into particular

                                In any case, and as Rolf
                                emphasizes, what the
        designers in
                                our study

                    indeed do is to IMAGINE ways of being
        in the
                    museum. Imagination versus
                    prediction may be an interesting topic
                    emerging here for further inquiry
                    into design work.

                                Another important (and
                                issue that I think is
        emerging here

                    has to do with the level of generality at
                    which design intentions can be
                    expected to work (just as Bateson
        argued with
                    regard to prediction). At the
                    level of generic social processes, and
        given a
                    cultural-historical background, we as
                    designers may try to make some
                    generic situations more likely to
        occur than
                    others (facilitating that more
                    or less people end up together in a given
                    place). However, we cannot aim at
                    determining any particular
                    situation/experience. The same may be
        said about
                    EDUCATION. We cannot intend to
        communicate the
                    curriculum and make it the
                    content of the students' experience in
        the way
                    we intend. But we can try to
                    create the conditions for certain
                    and dispositions to emerge.


        <mailto:iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu>>> on
                    behalf of
                    Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu

                                Sent: 15 July 2015 23:30
                                To: eXtended Mind,
        Culture, Activity
                                Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The
                                Emergence of Boundary Objects

                                Hi Alfredo,

                                I think Rolf may have
                                the question of the

                    between affordances and constraints in his
                    post. The way he described the
                    designers as possibly setting up the
                    with Pollock at MOMA.  It was a
                    long time ago so I'm not sure if this
        is the
                    way it was or the way I
                    remember it, but let's just believe
        this is
                    the way it was.  The painting,
                    I think there were three were set up in a
                    corner off a main corridor.  The
                    lighting was dark, which if you have
        ever been
                    to MOMA is different, in
                    many other parts of the museum there
        is a good
                    deal of natural light (there
                    was this great fountain, I wonder if it is
                    still there).  The paintings
                    were on tripods rather than hung on
        the walls
                    and they were surrounded on
                    three sides by walls.  All of these I
                    would be considered restraints
                    - pushing me in to the works rather than
                    stepping back away.  It was
                    impossible for more than two or three
                    to view the paintings at one
                    time and movement was limited, so
        there were
                    fewer chances for social
                    interactions (you were not going to
        pick up
                    anybody looking at Jackson
                    Pollock).  The atmosphere was
        brooding, making
                    it more likely that viewers
                    would move towards internal
        reflection.  All
                    of these were constraints that
                    canalized perspectives and feelings
                    the paintings.  You really had
                    only two choices, you moved in to the
                    paintings or you moved on, which I
                    had done every previous time coming
        upon them.

                                The painting itself though
                                an affordances, an object
        at the

                    nexus of my journey through the
        museum, where
                    I was in my life, and my
abilities to perceive the painitings. This
                    was something that could not be
                    designed I think because nobody could
                    that moment was going to
                    happen.   So then what is a perceived
                    affordance. Way back when there was
                    also a Manet room.  It was a round
        room with
                    different variations of his
                    water lilies in a circle.  Almost the
                    opposite in constraints it was
large, airy, a lot of natural light. If you
                    were looking to brood you went
                    somewhere else.  In the middle of the
        room was
                    a wooden structure (not an
                    obvious bench), but you realized as random
                    colors dissolved into water
                    lilies that you wanted to sit down.  You
                    naturally moved to the center of
                    the room and sat (wondering if a guard
                    come and tell you it was
                    actually an important piece of art and you
                    should get off).  The designer
                    anticipates a desire to soak in the
        room, to
                    almost get dizzy in the
                    lights, and included in the design the
                    of wood that will have the
                    perceived affordance for sitting, changing
                    your concept of time and space.


                                -----Original Message-----
xmca-l-bounces+glassman.13=osu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu <mailto:osu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu> <mailto:osu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu

xmca-l-bounces+glassman.13=osu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu <mailto:osu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu>
        <mailto:osu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu>>] On Behalf
                    Of Alfredo

                    Jornet Gil

                                Sent: Wednesday, July 15,
        2015 3:01 PM
                                To: eXtended Mind,
        Culture, Activity
                                Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The
                                Emergence of Boundary Objects

                                Thanks Michael,

                                I think we are saying the same
                                things, indeed, or at
        least more or

                    less. I am quite certain that Bateson
                    to energy, and that he used
                    the mentioned examples (or similar
        ones) to
                    show how the energy that moves
                    the pig is not a direct transfer of energy
                    from the kick, whereas in the
                    case of the billiard balls, the
        movement of
                    one ball is caused by the
                    energy that the kicking ball brings. I
                    be wrong in the context within
                    which Bateson was discussing the
        example, and
                    I see that your account is in
                    that regard is more accurate. But the
        point is
                    the same: you can not intend
                    the outcomes of a system by addressing
                    its parts as if they were
                    connected directly, in a linear causal
                    fashion; as if the whole was the sum
                    of its parts. I do see a link with
                    rejection of S-R and his
                    inclusion of a third element that
                    the whole system.

                                But I totally agree with your
                                comments on design
        intentions as they

                    relate to ecology, and I, as I know
        also Rolf
                    does, also like very much the
                    notion of ecology to address these issues.

                                If I read you correctly, and
                                citing Don Norman (whose
        work I

                    you suggest the possibility that the
                    between design intentions
                    and actual experience could be thought
        of in
                    terms of different levels?
                    That one thing is to design for what is
                    general, but that we cannot design
                    for the particular. Is that right? If
        so, I
                    think that Bateson had a
                    similar argument on prediction, does
        not him?
                    That we can predict on
                    general levels (e.g. population), but
        not at
                    the level of the particular
                    (e.g., individual). I haven't gone
        that way,
                    but seems a promising road to
                    consider this jumps between levels of
                    generality or scales.

                                Finally, I am not sure if
        I get
                                what you mean when you say
        that we can

                    design for constrains but not for
                    I still see that the one
                    presupposes the other; you can
        separate them
                    in talk, but, to me, in actual
                    experience, a constrain is an
        affordance and
                    vice-versa. I don't see how
                    the road has any inherent constrain
        that could
                    not be an affordance at the
                    same time. Of course, if you take the
                    normative stance that roads are for
                    cars driving through them, you may be
                    But if we think of roads as
                    asphalt on the ground, as yet more
        ground only
                    of a different shape,
                    texture, and color, how is that a
                    but not an affordance? Or an
                    affordance but not a constrain? Of course,
                    culture constrains once you are
                    within the road and you are driving.
        But then,
                    the constrain is not in the
                    road, as you seem to suggest, but in the
                    journey; in the journeyman that
                    carries some cultural way of orienting and
                    affectively relating to its
                    environment so that particular
        constrains are
                    taken for granted despite the
                    possibility of being otherwise. But I
                    not have thought it well/long
                    enough and of course I might be wrong.
        I would
                    like to understand your
                    position here better.



        <mailto:iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu>>> on
                    behalf of
                    Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu

                                Sent: 15 July 2015 20:32
                                To: eXtended Mind,
        Culture, Activity
                                Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The
                                Emergence of Boundary Objects

                                Hi Alfredo,

                                I have been reading Bateson
                                through a cybernetics lens

                    along with Lewin and his wife Margaret
                    were part of the original Sears
                    conferences)  and I'm not sure that's
        right or
                    I am victim to the "when you
                    have a hammer, everything looks like a

                                I think Bateson was
        arguing with
                                those looking to apply the

                    physical/mathematical origins of
                    to human or really (pace the
                    pig story) and system that moves
        beyond simple
                    physical feedback loops.  I
                    think his larger point is that
        everything has
                    a response within the larger
                    feedback system that exists but we
        cannot go -
                    what Bateson refers to as
                    MIND.  Attempts to create and control
                    loops, to try and design a
                    system for specific types of feedback is a
                    dangerous proposition.

                                This I think is the reason
                                affordances really can't
        be designed

                    into an ecology, only a recognition of the
                    context in which actions are
                    taking place (and I say this having no
                    what Gibson's relationship to
                    cybernetics was).  Taking Larry's
        example of
                    the girl it is perhaps also
                    likely that the girl could have taken the
                    fixing of hair as a criticism, an
                    attack, and it might have destroyed her
                    confidence.  Both make sense in
                    terms of feedback loops, but only ad
        hoc.  So
                    if a designer does in some
                    way design that experience into the
                    even without meaning they are
                    taking a large chance, because they do not
                    know the trajectory it will
                    take.  We simply need objects that are
        part of
                    our journey, part of the
                    larger context but not designed for
                    for feedback.  There is no
                    assumption about trajectory.

                                I think Don Norman sort of
                                the waters on this, but in an

                    interesting way.  That we can assume
                    are going to want to do certain
                    things in a very general environment -
        when          you enter a dark room you want
                    light, so it is possible to design objects
                    that meet that need that we are
                    more likely to find in the moment that
        we need
                    them.  But I think that is
                    very different from the idea of
                    guiding feedback loops that
                    even take generalized experience in a
                    direction.  I am thinking
                    about Dewey, and he makes a similar
                    to Bateson with his concept of
                    transactions.  Although he does seem
        to think
                    that it is possible to create
                    a larger field of action so we can see at
                    least local interrelationships.
                    But his idea of experience is also
        very much
                    one of discovery based on
                    needs at the immediate moment - social
                    relations act as a vehicle for these
                    discoveriesn(Dewey of course was writing
                    before Gibson and for most of his
                    life before cybernetics.  I also
        wonder what
                    he thought of cybernetics).

                                I think I disagree with you,
                                constraints are not about the
                                journey but

                    about the road.  If you build a road
        on the
                    side of the river you are
                    constrained because no matter what,
        you cannot
                    turn right.  Your direction
                    has already been partially determined
        by the
                    designer of the road.  But the
                    mistake we make is in thinking that also
                    controls the trajectory of the
                    individual's journey.  The effect of
                    on trajectories of action is
                    important, but limited.

                                The primary place that
                                have influence on
        affordances it

                    seems to me is by being able to create a
                    unique context for an individual's
                    and a group's that limit possible
                    on an individual's journey.
                    But we should never mistake those
                    for affordances.  I think
                    Bateson might argue it is hubris to do so.
                    Perhaps this is what you are
                    saying Alfredo.


                                -----Original Message-----

        <mailto:ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu>>] On
                    Behalf Of Alfredo Jornet Gil

                                Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015
                                12:38 PM
                                To: Rolf Steier; eXtended
                                Culture, Activity
                                Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The
                                Emergence of Boundary Objects

                                I'd like to follow up on
                                post by asking a question:
        Are not

                    affordances presupposed by constraints
        and are
                    not constraints presupposed
                    by affordances? If so, I would wonder
                    it makes sense to ask whether
                    museums should be designed for
        affordances and

                                What I think is clear from the
                                anecdote that you bring
        about the

                    Jackson Pollock corner is that whatever
                    EXPERIENCE emerges from being
                    somewhere (i.e. being someone at some
        time in
                    some place) cannot be
                    INTENDED. And I think this applies both to
                    designers and users, to those
                    who set things up for you to
        experience and to
                    you, who could not foresee
                    what your experience was going to turn you
                    into before you go through it.

                                I think that the big issue
                                you bring on the table (to

                    with Larry's metaphor) has to do with a
                    difference between physical
                    relations and social relations, and
        the idea
                    of MEDIATION. Gregory Bateson
                    noticed that the relations that are the
                    subject matter in physics are not
                    the same as those that are the subject
                    in communication. He noticed
                    that physical relations (relations
        that are
                    the object of study of physics)
                    transfer energy in direct manners: a
                    ball hits another ball and we
                    can anticipate the exact speed and
                    that the second ball will take
                    based on the energy that is in the
        system ball
                    + ball + someone hitting. In
                    living beings, the things are different.
                    Bateson explained, if we kick a
                    pig's ass (I think he used this somehow
                    bizarre example) the reaction of
                    the pig is not accounted for by the energy
                    that is contained in the kick,
                    at least not in a direct manner. The
                    that moves the pig is from a
                    different source. Before Bateson, it was
                    Vygotsky and his notion of
                    mediation who would most clearly state
                    social relations are not
                    direct, but mediated.

                                So, how can design go
        about this?
                                If we, along with Dewey and

                    Vygotsky, consider experience to be a
        unity of
                    person and environment, and
                    we assume as well that this is a
        social (not
                    just individual) category, and
                    that how a situation is experienced is
                    refracted through the social
                    relations within which we engage, the most
                    designers can do is to foster
                    social relations go on, giving
        afordances to
                    prcesses of signification,
                    without intending to embed meanings. It is
                    about affordances/constraints,
                    but not about how to interpret
        something, but
                    about going about
                    interpreting. I think.

                                Best wishes,

        <mailto:iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu>>> on
                    behalf of
                    Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu

                                Sent: 15 July 2015 18:04
                                To: Rolf Steier; eXtended
                                Culture,     Activity
                                Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The
                                Emergence of Boundary Objects

                                So after reading the
        article and
                                the e-mail discussion I'm

                    to think there is a really big issue
        here that
                    I am trying to grapple with,
                    especially in terms of boundary
        objects (which
                    I admittedly do not
                    understand very well).  And it relates
        to the
                    metaphor of the table (both
                    as discussed by Larry and Ingold as
                    interpreted by Rolf).  It is this, in
                    the museum should the place be set up as
                    affordances, perceived
                    affordances, or constraints?  It seems the
                    museum in the study has
                    potential affordances for the users.  The
                    cultural historical moment
                    (unable to think of any other word) of the
                    museum sets the context, meaning
                    those walking through the museum are
        going to
                    be restricted by the
                    historical and cultural boundaries
        leading up
                    to the art work, along with
                    the expectations and needs of the
                    moving through the museum,
                    but they will come across
                    that they think meets the needs
                    of their particular journeys. The posing
                    becomes both an internalization
                    and externalization of the thinking
        (or are
                    they one continuum at this
                    point?) in which they both make sense
        of the
                    object in terms of their own
                    meaning and needs and also try and
                    what they found, leaving a
                    potential trails for others.

                                An example that has stayed
        with me
                                for years. Living in New
        York I

                    used to go to the Museum of Modern Art
        on a
                    semi-regular basis (in large
                    part to try and meet women, always
                    unsuccessful). I would often visit the
                    Jackson Pollock corner.  I would look
        and it
                    would always be meaningful to
me and I would move one quickly. Once, soon
                    after graduating college and
                    unemployed and about as frustrated as
        I'd ever
                    been I viewed the same
                    paintings.  At that moment Pollock
        made sense
                    to me, a deep emotional punch
                    - the paintings became objects that could
                    bridge my rage, sadness and fear
                    to the next moment in my life.  There
        is no
                    way a designer could have
                    planned this affordance.  It was based
        on the
                    movement not just through the
                    museum but my life.  I think back to
        what my
                    gestures, or even posing might
                    have been at that moment.  A slumping
        in to
                    myself, an internalization
                    perhaps of a socially sanctioned symbol of
                    rage. But perhaps a posture
                    also that said stay away.  The place I
                    in that moment was one that
                    included me and whatever demons Jackson
                    Pollock fought with.

                                Or should museums should be
                                designed for what Don Norman
                                refers to as

                    perceived affordances?  The table that
        is set
                    up can be one of perceived
                    affordances.  What I grab for the spoon
                    because its shape makes sense in my
                    need/desire to eat cereal.  The focus goes
                    from cultural history setting a
                    general context - Jackson Pollock is a
                    sanctioned way to bridge emotions,
                    to actually setting the trajectory of the
                    act.  I sit at a table, I want to
                    eat cereal, I must follow sanctioned rule
                    systems, I know what I need at
                    that moment and look for objects that
        fit my
                    needs.  Is the room in the
article about perceived affordances. Should
                    the museum be designed for
                    perceived affordances.  A person
        coming upon
                    an object may be thinking this
                    because of what it means in our
        society to be
                    walking through a museum.
                    The object offers an opportunity to make
                    communicative gestures, such as
                    recreating the posture of The Thinker the
                    authors refer to.  I have seen
                    many shows, movies where this happens,
                    movies from the 1940s to the
                    Rugrats.  This is the cultural cue of
        what we
                    do with art objects in a
                    museum, we gesture to both understand and

                                Or should museums be
        designed as
                                constraints. In the

                    Museum of Art (sorry for the New York
                    places but that's where I
                    spent most of my museum life) the
        rooms are
                    set up very, very carefully, so
                    that in many ways the objects (at
        least are
                    meant to I think) to constrain
                    your thinking, so that you are
        responding to a
                    certain period or school of
                    art, understanding how it all fits
        together.            The table metaphor fits here
                    as well I think.  Does the table
        constrain our
                    actions, limiting to certain
                    types of behavior (use only certain
        types of
                    forks for certain types of

                                Okay, too much I know.


                                -----Original Message-----

        <mailto:ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu>>] On
                    Behalf Of Rolf Steier

                                Sent: Wednesday, July 15,
        2015 6:58 AM
                                To: Alfredo Jornet Gil
                                Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture,
                                Activity; mike cole;


                                Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The
                                Emergence of Boundary Objects

                                Thank you for your
        thoughts Larry,

                                I wanted to pick up on your
                                suggestion of the table
                                because I

                    think that's really interesting. I
        believe you
                    are proposing the shared
                    meal as analogous to the kind of
                    work (or perhaps Leigh Star
                    might consider this translation or
                    pre-translation work?) that precedes the
                    task at hand (in the case of our
        study, the
                    task is design). Excerpt 3 from
                    our study might be relevant here, when
        in turn
                    6, the curator turns to the
                    researcher, leans in, and points in
        order to
                    create a shared visual field.

                                The curator and the
        researcher can
                                now orient towards the

                    gallery in order to imagine future,
                    changes in the gallery. The
                    curator is in a sense extending an
                    to sit down at the same table
                    to be able to share his vision for the

                                This shared meal might of
                                also be considered
        designed. Ingold (
                                *Making*) actually uses
        this same
                                table metaphor to
        demonstrate the

                    facilitation of activity as an aspect of
                    design - *"Everyday design catches
                    the narrative and pins it down,
        establishing a
                    kind of choreography for the
                    ensuing permanence that allows it to
                    from the moment you sit down
                    to eat. In such a straightforward task as
                    laying the table - in enrolling
                    into your relation bowl and spoon,
        milk jug
                    and cereal box - you are
                    designing breakfast."*

                                There is an improvisational
                                quality to the

                    orientation work that is maybe not
        captured by
                    the shared expectations of
                    sitting down to a meal. But at the
        same time,
                    we can also consider the
                    workspace of the multidisciplinary
        design team
                    as designed in the same way
                    that the meal is designed in order to
                    the objective of the meeting.
                    That is, the, design team must first
        engage in
                    a place-making activity for
                    their collaborative setting in order
        to attend
                    to the design of the
                    exhibition space. The designers set
        the table
                    with a white board, sketches
                    and design ideas, perhaps some
        coffee... etc.,
                    before turning to the task
                    of imagining the future exhibition.

                                Lubomir, you asked - *"who
        are the
                                placemakers -- the
        architects or

                    the USERS of designed/created/socially
                    produced spaces?" *I think this is
                    difficult to answer because both
        architect and
                    user play a role in the
                    place-making process. The architects embed
                    possible meanings (if place and
                    meaning are analogous than perhaps
        these might
                    be considered 'place

                                potentials') that only emerge
                                through the activity of
        the users. I'm

                    only thinking through this now, so
        feel free
                    to elaborate or to disagree!


                                On Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at
        11:28 PM,
                                Alfredo Jornet Gil <

        a.j.gil@iped.uio.no <mailto:a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>


                                    Thanks a lot, Lubomir!

                                    On to your question, I am
                                    tempted to stretch a bit
                                    across frameworks
                                    and answer that, the
                                    difference between the
                                    of performing an
                                    activity in space and
                                    developing a sense of
                                    would be akin to the
                                    difference between an
                                    operation and an
        action as per
                                    Activity theory.

                                    Again, we must be
        careful on
                                    the distinction
        between space
                                    as a sort
                                    of objective geometrical
                                    coordinate, or space
        as not
                                    becoming a part

                    of "an"

                                    experience (in Dewey's
                                    In the first sense,
        the sentence
                                    "performing an activity in
                                    space" makes only
        sense when
                                    talking about
                                    geometrical practices, for
                                    example; one may think
        that in
                                    engineering practices,
        it is
                                    possible to orient to
        space as
                                    space, as
                                    a coordinate. BUT
        still, the
                                    experience of being
        doing such
                                    if it has import to
                                    development in the
        person, it
                                    must be
                                    refracted through the
                                    experience; there must be
                                    and therefore
        placemaking. In
                                    the second case, we might
                                    think of us
                                    performing some activity
                                    within taking much of it,
                                    without noticing we
                                    are doing. It is in
        this sense
                                    that I do the bridge with

                    versus actions.

                                    I would not have many
                                    in associating place with
                                    meaning and
                                    placemaking with
                                    meaning-making, although I
                                    personally would be
                                    careful if doing so,
                                    emphasizing the
                                    and distributed
                                    nature of the process that
                                    placemaking attempts
        to capture.

                                    Hope this helps
                                    From: Lubomir Savov Popov
<mailto:lspopov@bgsu.edu <mailto:lspopov@bgsu.edu>>>
                                    Sent: 14 July 2015 23:06
                                    To: Alfredo Jornet
        Gil; Rolf
                                    Steier; eXtended Mind,


                                    Cc: mike cole;
                                    Subject: RE: [Xmca-l]
        Re: The
                                    Emergence of Boundary

                                    Thank you Alfredo,

                                    By the way, I should have
                                    started my mail with an
                                    appreciation for
                                    your article and
        Mike's choice
                                    to bring it to our

                                    Now it is almost clear
        how you
                                    use the word and
        conceptualize the
                                    phenomenon. I would
                                    respectfully ask you
        for a few
                                    more things: what
                                    is the difference
        between the
                                    process of performing an
                                    activity in
                                    space and developing a
                                    of place. I personally
                                    interpret place in
                                    terms of appropriation of
                                    space in the process
        of human
                                    activity and
                                    the subsequent meaning
                                    which has existential
                                    importance for the
                                    individual. The
        phenomenon of
                                    place is on par with the
                                    phenomenon of
                                    meaning and
        placemaking is a
                                    process on par with
                                    making. How
                                    do you position yourself
                                    regarding such

                                    On a similar note, who
        are the
                                    placemakers -- the
                                    or the
                                    USERS of
                                    produced spaces?

                                    By the way, I might be
                                    stretching too much
        the part
                                    on place and
                                    distracting from other
                                    of your wonderful article.

                                    Best wishes,


                                    -----Original Message-----
                                    From: Alfredo Jornet Gil
                                    Sent: Tuesday, July
        14, 2015
                                    4:31 PM
                                    To: Lubomir Savov
        Popov; Rolf
                                    Steier; eXtended Mind,
                                    Culture, Activity
                                    Cc: mike cole;
                                    Subject: Re: [Xmca-l]
        Re: The