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



Henry, anything. But the point is objects which play some role in mediating the relation between subjects, probably a symbolic role, but possibly an instrumental role, too, and one subject challenges that role and turns the object into its opposite, and changes the terms of collaboration.
A number of examples spring to mind.

 * Loaded, especially pejorative words, such as Queer, are
   embraced by a despised group who take control of the
   word and assertively embrace it;
 * The post-WW2 women's peace movement who deployed their
   stereotype as housewives and mothers to magnificant effect;
 * ISIS's hatred and fear of women turned into a weapon
   against them by Kurdish women fighters (ISIS flee before
   them rather than in shame);
 * The Chartists who turned the British govt's stamp which
   put newspapers out of reach of workers against them by
   printing the Northern Star as a stamped newspaper and
   obliging workers to club together in groups to buy and
   read it, thus making the paper into a glorious
   organising tool;
 * the naming of Palestine and the Occupied Territory /
   Israel is the struggle over the meaning of a shared
   object (the land);
 * Gandhi's use of the landloom as both a weapon and tool
   for Indian independence and self-sufficiency, raising it
   from the status of obsolete and inferior technology to a
   symbol of India.

In think this is not what Susan Leigh Star had in mind when she introduced the term, but core point is that the ideological construction placed upon an object is subject to contestation, and if successful, the re-marking of an artefact is a tremendously powerful spur to subjectivity.

Yrjo raises the question: is the"boundary object" a mediating artefact or the object of work (/Arbeitsgegenstand/)? I think the answer is that in these cases it is a mediating artefact, tool or symbols according to context. In principle it is not the Object in the Engestromian sense, though it might happen to be.

Andy

------------------------------------------------------------
*Andy Blunden*
http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
On 21/07/2015 12:27 PM, HENRY SHONERD wrote:
Rolf, Alfredo, Andy,
I got to thinking about the photographs as boundary objects. What about video?
Henry


On Jul 20, 2015, at 6:07 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

Yes, thinking about this overnight, I came to see that it was the photographs that Thomas was endeavouring to turn to use to recover his humanity. This is consonant with how Yrjo was using the idea in relation to the subsistence farmers' movement in Mexico and their corn.
Thanks Rolf!
Andy
------------------------------------------------------------
*Andy Blunden*
http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
On 21/07/2015 3:04 AM, Rolf Steier wrote:
This makes sense to me, Andy. I could also interpret the photographs as boundary objects as they support the coordination of therapy activities between Thomas and the nurse. I think it depends on the aspect of activity one is attempting to explore as opposed to the definite identification of what may or may not be a boundary object. This is only my opinion though!




On Mon, Jul 20, 2015 at 3:49 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    Or alternatively, the boundary object in question is
    Thomas's aged body, which is subject to an
    interpretation which Thomas contests by showing
    photographs of far away places and explaining how
    well-travelled he is, seeking an interpretation of
    himself as a well-travelled and experiences
    man-of-the-world.
    Does that make better sense?
    Andy
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    *Andy Blunden*
    http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
    <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
    On 20/07/2015 11:27 PM, Andy Blunden wrote:

        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
        ------------------------------------------------------------
        *Andy Blunden*
        http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
        <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
        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>
            <mailto:ablunden@mira.net
            <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>> wrote:

                Phew!
                So would it be correct to describe the
            government
                institutions and political system are
            "boundary objects"?
                Andy
            ------------------------------------------------------------
                *Andy Blunden*
            http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
            <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
                <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
                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.(
            http://mcneilllab.uchicago.edu/pdfs/unexpected_metaphors.pdf
                    )

                    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
                    culture,
                        can capture abstractions in novel
            ways and
                    provide the
                        fluidity of thought and language
            that is the
                    essence
                        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
            <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>
                    <mailto:ablunden@mira.net
            <mailto: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
            ------------------------------------------------------------
                        *Andy Blunden*
            http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
            <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
                    <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
                        <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
                        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
                    identified
                            particular kinds of
                            episodes in which participants
            from different
                            disciplines seek coherence
                            and continuity of shared
            representations
                    through
                            bodily action. These
                            actions include gesture,
            movement and physical
                            performance linking the
                            present material artifacts to
            objects of
                    design.
                            Most of these episodes
                            seem to involve some form of
            improvisation,
                            resourcefulness or creativity,
                            and I'm not fully sure how to
            characterize
                    these
                            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
                    participants.


                            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
                            <hshonerd@gmail.com
            <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com>
                    <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com
            <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com>>
                    <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com
            <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com>
                    <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com
            <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com>>>>
                            wrote:

                                Alfredo,
                                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
                    familiarity
                                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
                    Castilian
                                Spanish, the national language
                                of Spain from 1492 on. I
            see a parallel
                                between your work on boundary
                                objects, where individual
            persons
                    collaborate
                                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.
                                Henry


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

                                wrote:

                                    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
                    education
                                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
                    years
                                now, so I am not the best to
                                update you on this either.

                                    Best wishes,
                                    Alfredo
            ________________________________________
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            <xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu
            <mailto:iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu>
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                    <mailto:iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu
            <mailto:iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu>>>> on
                                behalf of
                                HENRY SHONERD
            <hshonerd@gmail.com <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com>
                    <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com
            <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com>>
                                <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com
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                                    Sent: 16 July 2015 19:54
                                    To: eXtended Mind,
            Culture, Activity
                                    Subject: [Xmca-l] Re:
            The Emergence of
                                    Boundary Objects

                                    Alfredo,
                                    Yes, you have answered
            my question
                    very
                                    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!

                                    Henry


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

                                wrote:

                                        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
                    design
                                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
                    aspect
                                as the result of learning.
                                Growth and development,
            however, are about
                                qualitative change. So, as
            soon
                                as you start measuring you
            would be
                    missing
                                growth and development. So,
                                again, no. I would not say
            that
                    high-stakes
                                standardized testing is in
            line
                                with what I was trying to say.

                                        I hope I have
            answered your
                    question,
                                        Alfredo
                    ________________________________________
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            <xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu
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            <mailto:iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu>>>> on
                                behalf of
                                HENRY SHONERD
            <hshonerd@gmail.com <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com>
                    <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com
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            <mailto:hshonerd@gmail.com>>>>

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

                                        Alfredo, you say:

                                        "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
            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?

                                        Henry






                                            On Jul 15,
            2015, at 5:29 PM,
                                            Alfredo Jornet Gil
                                                       <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no <mailto:a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
                    <mailto:a.j.gil@iped.uio.no
            <mailto:a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>>
            <mailto:a.j.gil@iped.uio.no
            <mailto:a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
                    <mailto:a.j.gil@iped.uio.no
            <mailto:a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>>>>

                                wrote:

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

                                designers can aim at
            designing for
                    constrains
                                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
                    effective
                                way to design for
                                place-making, as in the
            example that
                    Michael
                                gives of MOMA. Indeed, much of
                                what we report in our
            study is about
                    designers
                                talking about how spatial
                                features might afford some
            experiences
                    in the
                                museum while constraining
                                others.

                                            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
                    constrains
                                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
                    intended
                                or not. Which makes me wonder
                                whether other terminology,
            such as
                    Ingold's
                                notion of "correspondence,"
                                might be more appropriated
            when we
                    talk about
                                how materials and actions
                                become entangled into
            particular
                    trajectories.

                                            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
                    related)
                                            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
                                particular
                                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
                    attitudes
                                and dispositions to emerge.

                                            Alfredo
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                                Glassman, Michael
            <glassman.13@osu.edu <mailto:glassman.13@osu.edu>
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                                            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
                    addressed
                                            the question
            of the
                    differences

                                between affordances and
            constraints in his
                                post. The way he described the
                                designers as possibly
            setting up the
                    corner
                                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
                    think
                                would be considered restraints
                                - pushing me in to the
            works rather than
                                stepping back away.  It was
                                impossible for more than
            two or three
                    people
                                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
                    viewing
                                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
                    became
                                            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
                    think
                                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
                    exact
                                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
                    would
                                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
                    piece
                                of wood that will have the
                                perceived affordance for
            sitting, changing
                                your concept of time and
            space.

                                            Michael

                                            -----Original
            Message-----
                                            From:
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            <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
                    referred
                                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
                    might
                                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
                    only
                                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
                    Vygotsky's
                                rejection of S-R and his
                                inclusion of a third
            element that
                    transforms
                                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
                                            ignore),

                                you suggest the
            possibility that the
                    relations
                                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
                    affordances.
                                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
                    right.
                                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
                    constrain
                                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
                    might
                                not have thought it well/long
                                enough and of course I
            might be wrong.
                    I would
                                like to understand your
                                position here better.

                                            Thanks!
                                            Alfredo

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            <mailto:iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu>>>> on
                                behalf of
                                Glassman, Michael
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                                            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
                    lately
                                            (Bateson

                                along with Lewin and his
            wife Margaret
                    Mead
                                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
                    nail"
                                but....

                                            I think
            Bateson was
                    arguing with
                                            those looking
            to apply the
                    more

                                physical/mathematical
            origins of
                    cybernetics
                                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
                    feedback
                                loops, to try and design a
                                system for specific types
            of feedback is a
                                dangerous proposition.

                                            This I think
            is the reason
                    that
                                            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
                    idea
                                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
                    action,
                                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
                    purpose,
                                for feedback.  There is no
                                assumption about trajectory.

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

                                interesting way.  That we
            can assume
                    people
                                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
                    specifically
                                guiding feedback loops that
                                even take generalized
            experience in a
                    certain
                                direction.  I am thinking
                                about Dewey, and he makes
            a similar
                    argument
                                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
                    designers
                                on trajectories of action is
                                important, but limited.

                                            The primary
            place that
                    designers
                                            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
                    trajectories
                                on an individual's journey.
                                But we should never
            mistake those
                    constraints
                                for affordances.  I think
                                Bateson might argue it is
            hubris to do so.
                                Perhaps this is what you are
                                saying Alfredo.

                                            Michael



                                            -----Original
            Message-----
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                                           [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+mglassman
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                               <mailto:ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu
            <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
                    Mind,
                                            Culture, Activity
                                            Subject:
            [Xmca-l] Re: The
                                            Emergence of
            Boundary Objects

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

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

                                            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
                    that
                                            you bring on
            the table (to
                    continue

                                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
                    matter
                                in communication. He noticed
                                that physical relations
            (relations
                    that are
                                the object of study of
            physics)
                                transfer energy in direct
            manners: a
                    billiard
                                ball hits another ball and we
                                can anticipate the exact
            speed and
                    direction
                                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
                    energy
                                that moves the pig is from a
                                different source. Before
            Bateson, it was
                                Vygotsky and his notion of
                                mediation who would most
            clearly state
                    that
                                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
                    also
                                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,
                                            Alfredo
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                                            Sent: 15 July
            2015 18:04
                                            To: Rolf
            Steier; eXtended
                    Mind,
                                            Culture,  Activity
                                            Subject:
            [Xmca-l] Re: The
                                            Emergence of
            Boundary Objects

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

                                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
                    individuals
                                moving through the museum,
                                but they will come across
                    objects/artifacts
                                that they think meets the
            needs