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[Xmca-l] Re: Reflective Discourse on XMCA



I have to ask if anyone (besides me) out there has read Ed Catmull’s Creativity, Inc. I was reminded of it  by Doug’s quote of Alan Kay quote: “...the best way to predict the future is to invent it.” The book by Catmull is the “autobiography” of Pixar, a great example of inventing the future. I bought the book because of the focus on creativity, brought spectaculary to my attention by my mentor Vera John-Steiner with her book Creative Collaboration published 15 years back and revisited by Andy Blunden’s edited Collaborative Projects (with pieces by Vera and Greg Thompson). What struck me about Creativity, Inc. was how Vygotskian, how Mind in Society, the Pixar project was construed by Catmull. And thanks to the interconnecting  threads on boundary objects, I see the socio-cultural themes in Catmull’s book even more strongly. Leadership is distributed.  
Henry
    
> On Oct 16, 2015, at 12:21 PM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no> wrote:
> 
> Dough, your description makes sense to me, and it seems entirely in line with what has been discussed so far. Doing business analysis and developing business rules seem adequate glosses of what developers do. The link you provide (thanks!) leads to a quite technical progress report on a software innovation project. I guess that a possible and interesting research focus, and one that I assume several here pursue, is to investigate how these after-the-fact descriptions that constitute the "memory palace" that you mention, relate to the prior historical and actual situated work that orients the participants and opens new horizons to them in situ, for the first time. What material and ideal conditions allow them to move on and come up with this descriptions/products? 
> 
> Relating code objects, classes, etc. to the "fuzzier world of social interactions", as you write, really reminds me to Leigh Star's concerns on formal categories and the lived work/experiences of falling inside or outside of them; a theme developed, for example, in Star & Bowker 1997 in MCA, as well as in their papers describing "residual categories."
> 
> Alfredo
> ________________________________________
> From: xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of Douglas Williams <djwdoc@yahoo.com>
> Sent: 15 October 2015 07:58
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Reflective Discourse on XMCA
> 
> I will hazard a comment here and note that what you are describing is what I think is usually described as performing "business analysis" and developing "business rules," which is another way of describing the kind of memory palace that developers construct from functional requests, observation, interviews, etc., so that they can relate specific code objects, classes and methods to the fuzzier world of social interactions, organizational interactions, and group intentions that you're designing an application to address.
> 
> Business rules are a set of postulates and theories about the groups and interactions for which you are designing; it's a kind of applied social science. Negotiation, between developers approaching these groups and interactions from different areas, and between developers and users, is pretty continuous--especially with Agile development, in which you spend a lot of time by design in negotiation. The problems you solve may create other problems. The metaphors of interaction you use may be wrong. Certainly imagination enters into the process. To develop something really useful, you have to think beyond existing practices, which are often a compromise, to the user goal. With that goal in mind, you can ignore what is, and create something different that provides a better affordance to achieve that goal, or perhaps merge related superficial goals into a deeper common goal. And in the process of interaction, designers and users create systems of interaction that evolve both of their tribes.
> 
> It's entirely possible I'm missing the point of what you're trying to get at, or I'm seeing it simplistically, but that's what comes to my mind. Alan Kay of Xerox PARC famously said "the best way to predict the future is to invent it." But you can't invent the future without spending a good deal of time observing systems as they are, and then trying to see where intention is thwarted by poor design, or blocked by unnecessary barriers.
> 
> Along those lines, if I'm not entirely wrong, maybe this would be a useful reference.
> 
> http://www.vpri.org/pdf/tr2011004_steps11.pdf
> Doug
>      From: Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> Sent: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 11:18 AM
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Reflective Discourse on XMCA
> 
> If I were to set gesture and orientation along a continuum, as Henry suggests, and if I wanted to do so without falling back into a dichotomy, I would bring Ryle and his warnings on the concept of mind, and I would remark that orientation is an achievement, not a process. Orienting, as a process verb, is something that takes movement (and therefore time) to get achieved. Thus, in every occasion that someone orients to something, that orienting exists in and as a gesture, a gaze, a word, or a variety of those together. Before you do orient, there is not yet an orientation. Perhaps a disposition to do so, and one which is not inside you but with goes along with your circumstances. So, a way to dissolve the dichotomy that is implied saying that orientation is cognitive and gesture is material (as if cognition was not material and gesture not cognitive) may be to admit that orienting (thinking, cognizing) takes gesture, and other material things, to be achieved. It is in this sense that I think that notions of movement, such as Dewey's "an experience," are useful to think of what is foundational about thinking.
> 
> Alfredo
> ________________________________________
> 
> 
> From: xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com>
> Sent: 14 October 2015 19:09
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Reflective Discourse on XMCA
> 
> Huw,
> Does this work for you?:
> Gesture as basically acting. Doing.
> Orientation as basically thinking. Construal.
> Gesture and orientation are construed as being on a continuum.
> At the same time: Gesture is a proper subset of orientation. Alternativeky, orientation is ground for gesture.
> Langacker construes grammar as symbolic in nature, with phonological space a subset of semantic space. Keeping in mind that semantic space, meaning, is contextual, both spatially and temporally. Gesture is prototypically material, indexical. Orientation is prototypically cognitive and affective. Yet there is no non-arbitrary division (dichotomy) between gesture and orientation.
> 
> I think I am in way over my head regarding set theory, but do any of your “trigger scenarios” fall into a trap of dichotomization, where the participants in a project push for a checklist of properties to determine what an object actually is, rather than admit to fuzziness of categories? The work of Rosch comes to mind. I am also thinking of scientific and practical concepts and an article by Peter Smagorinsky about those ideas.
> 
> Tentatively,
> Henry
> 
> P.S. A vigorous nod to Peg and Huw regarding “allos”, as in allophones. A great example of the the relationships between the concrete (phonetic realization of allophones) and the abstract (the phonemic unit that “represents” the “bundle” of allophones). The -etic and the -emic. Again, a continuum, rather than a simple dichotomy. I want to recognize that there are some lingusts who do not ascribe to phonemes at all, think that such an abstract representation is not required to model language, especially as it applies to the production and comprehension of language with computers. Again, over my head.
> 
> 
> 
>> On Oct 14, 2015, at 10:04 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no> wrote:
>> 
>> Huw, thanks a lot! Your experiences is very valuable for what I am looking at now, really. I'll definitively keep you posted on what I get up to.
>> 
>> Alfredo
>> ________________________________________
>> From: xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>
>> Sent: 14 October 2015 17:50
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Reflective Discourse on XMCA
>> 
>> Alfredo,
>> 
>> Regarding "how the situated work taking place during a shift of
>> (computational) paradigm would differ", generalising from my experience I
>> usually see a breakdown in communication and an approach is taken in which
>> the program is inched forward, perhaps akin to tacking to a coastline.
>> 
>> What was a reasonable strategy for a quick solution transforms over time
>> into an abuse of the language, such as 20 files consisting of nested if
>> statements that are several hundred lines long used to parse text files.
>> 
>> Depending upon the experience, common trigger scenarios might be:
>> 
>> Object oriented programming.
>> Inversion of control (using frameworks)
>> Multithreaded programming.
>> Functional programming
>> 
>> But even when the language constructs are well known there can be
>> disagreements concerning other basic representational and orientational
>> constructs, such as what an event is, whether an input is interior or
>> exterior to an encapsulation, whether value objects or identity objects are
>> used, and whether the problem domain is actually articulated in the
>> software.
>> 
>> Regarding gesture, I would say that gestures index orientation mediated by
>> conscious goals.  So I would agree that gesture, rather than mere wording,
>> helps to orient.  But I would tend to disagree that gesture is
>> 'foundational'.  For me, orientation is king.  It would be interesting to
>> see if you make something else of it.
>> 
>> Best,
>> Huw
>> 
>> 
>> On 14 October 2015 at 15:44, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no> wrote:
>> 
>>> Huw,
>>> thanks for the reflection, it brings a very interesting distinction. The
>>> software developers case that I mentioned is more on the contained sense of
>>> "unknown", as you mentioned, not involving a shift of computing paradigm.
>>> Yet I could observe lots of work performed by the developers for them to be
>>> able to do intelligible enough reference to the feature thereby being
>>> designed. This work, which I glossed as "naming", included not just
>>> (technical, specialized) names already familiar to them, but also drawings,
>>> gesturing, and performance. So, the words were not enough, and there was
>>> some form of imagination going on. So the distinction you introduced makes
>>> me wonder how the situated work taking place during a shift of
>>> (computational) paradigm would differ with respect to the one that I am
>>> observing, that is, involving only a "minor" innovation.
>>> 
>>> Henry's connection with the moving from verb to noun that we reported with
>>> respect to boundary objects is interesting here because it brings attention
>>> to objects (materials) and their relation to our sensitivities (bodies). I
>>> am thinking if this connection might be of help to understand the
>>> differences between the work that minor innovations involve and the work of
>>> producing major paradigm shifts. Perhaps, more than a shift in the kind of
>>> situated social interactions that we observe, we should (again) attend to
>>> Latour's discussion on inter-objectivity, and see how the
>>> material-historical arrangements in the setting set the conditions for
>>> those shifts to occur. At the level of interaction, I can imagine (!) that
>>> both going through a minor innovation and going through a major shift
>>> involve some movement from not being aware of a possibility to orienting
>>> towards that very possibility. Studying differences there would be
>>> interesting. But I guess that the key lies in the prior historical
>>> conditions for the innovation/shift to emerge. Imagination may, in this
>>> account, be a form of perceiving things that, to be so perceived, need to
>>> lend themselves to those perceptions and apprehensions. If imagination
>>> takes place first as performative work, and not as mental operation alone,
>>> it needs to rely upon the possibilities of manipulation that the materials
>>> offer. And those possibilities, of course, include possibilities of naming,
>>> of using words.
>>> 
>>> Alfredo
>>> ________________________________________
>>> From: xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu
>>> <xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of
>>> HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com>
>>> Sent: 14 October 2015 01:38
>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Reflective Discourse on XMCA
>>> 
>>> Do I recall (and understand) correctly Alfredo’s and Rod’s article (on
>>> boundary objects and building museum spaces) that gesture preceded naming?
>>> I mean that the boundary object started as collaborative/coordinated
>>> movement. It was a perfomance before it was a thing that could be named. A
>>> verb before it was a noun. And does this have anything to do with Huw’s
>>> conjecture about a continuum of kinds of projects, at one end those that
>>> replicate (with minimal creativity) and, at the other,  those that “get
>>> outside the box”? Academic discourse tends to be very nouny, Latinate,
>>> loaded with bound morphemes. Such discourse serves important purposes when
>>> operating on the generalization and abstraction side of things, amongst the
>>> experts. But boundary objects (as observed by Alfredo and Rod) assume the
>>> project members are strangers to one another’s way of generalizing and
>>> abstracting. Could gesture then be “rising to the concrete” in discourse
>>> generally? That would provide nice praxis.
>>> 
>>> Respectfully,
>>> Henry
>>> 
>>>> On Oct 13, 2015, at 4:45 PM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>> Alfredo,
>>>> 
>>>> I suspect the quality of the unknown thing here would need qualification.
>>>> Experienced practitioners in software are often dealing with
>>> to-be-designed
>>>> artefacts, although these mostly fall into a more minor category of
>>> things
>>>> conforming to well-known conceptions or abstractions, hence they are
>>>> usually only unknown in a rather contained sense (a bit like roughly
>>>> knowing what kind of model you need to build out of lego).
>>>> 
>>>> Contrary to this, computing problems entailing a new computational
>>> paradigm
>>>> would certainly throw such programmers into a genuine unknown (the
>>> dawning
>>>> realisation that one is working with a different kind of kit).  Also,
>>> with
>>>> respect to requirements, the real unknowns are usually the soft
>>>> requirements on agreeing what the problem is in the first place, which
>>> will
>>>> be largely governed by the social situation of said programmers, i.e.
>>> being
>>>> paid to get something built.
>>>> 
>>>> Naming is very important in software in order to try to communicate
>>>> functional intent, hence practitioners would no doubt be comfortable
>>>> establishing agreement about naming before moving on.  Nonetheless you
>>> may
>>>> well be identifying some form of design mediation at play too.
>>>> 
>>>> Best,
>>>> Huw
>>>> 
>>>> On 13 October 2015 at 23:08, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
>>> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>> Henry, all,
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> I am at this moment going through a video database on design work in a
>>>>> software development company, and, observing a discussion between two
>>>>> developers who talk about features of the software that are not yet
>>>>> developed, but which could be, ??the insight came upon me that, to
>>> possibly
>>>>> create anything together (and there is no other way to do it since one
>>>>> alone has not the tools/competence to do it), they had to name it. So,
>>> the
>>>>> developers were talking about something that does not yet exist but
>>> which
>>>>> nonetheless needs to be referred to in order for them to even begin
>>> working
>>>>> on it. And naming something that does not yet exits does not happen
>>>>> immediately, because they do not have a name for it. Naming it takes
>>> time
>>>>> and space, that is, work. So, I think the notion of "displacement" that
>>> you
>>>>> mention, if it captures this work that talking does to the imagining,
>>> very
>>>>> relevant to what I am witnessing in my data. And, given the salience of
>>>>> "place making" in the thread, the term "disPLACEment" may be timely
>>> here.
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> Alfredo
>>>>> 
>>>>> ________________________________
>>>>> From: HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com>
>>>>> Sent: 13 October 2015 23:34
>>>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>>> Cc: Alfredo Jornet Gil; Rolf Steier; Geoffrey C. Bowker
>>>>> Subject: Re: [Xmca-l] Re: Reflective Discourse on XMCA
>>>>> 
>>>>> Mike,
>>>>> In your original post on Oct 10, you  suggested that we might "...come
>>> up
>>>>> with a deeper understanding of the interlocking issues involved". As you
>>>>> say, each chatter will have their own response to that. Mine is that I
>>> can
>>>>> relate the three issues to displacement, which is arguably the most
>>>>> important property of language as a semiotic system. It is the ability
>>> of
>>>>> with language to refer to and construe aspects of the world removed in
>>> time
>>>>> and place (from the here and now) and to the "make believe"
>>> ("irrealis").
>>>>> I was reminded of this on re-reading an article by Bruno Latour on
>>>>> Interobjectivity that Greg Thompson posted back on Aug 18. Most people,
>>> if
>>>>> asked, think of language primarily as something for communication.
>>> Animals
>>>>> communicate, but, as far as we know, do not displace. (Though It might
>>> be
>>>>> argued that animals do a better job of communicating than people.!) I
>>> would
>>>>> like to emphasize the importance of the temporal domain, as well as the
>>>>> spatial, with displacement.
>>>>> 
>>>>> Henry
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>> 
> 
> 
> 
>