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[Xmca-l] Re: Article for Discussion

I could not agree more with David's remarks concerning the beautiful writing and the sensory explosions that this article is replete with. Indeed, as I was reading it, I was thinking that the reading had a synesthetic aspect to it, as if moving through so very diverse concepts and metaphors was like seeing lots of vivid colours one after another, some more enlightening, others almost blinding, but all forming an incredibly dense wave of topics on the intermeshing of culture and cognition. 

Among the many (not always followed-up) instances, I found the analysis on the section "gendered intimacy" particularly appealing in that the analysis shows how the designers come to understand a prosthetic prototype in and through reference to actual breasts and breastfeeding in a culture, and by the same token, come to understand actual breasts and breastfeeding as manifestations of a gendered culture in and through an inquiry into a prosthetic prototype. The same goes for the contrasts between younger and older generations, urban and rural... 

The connections are so many that invite to reading like those books that offer different possibilities to continue the story, and where you can choose jumping from one page to a non-contiguous page depending on the thread you follow. I personally will go back to the text and will follow some of the opened threads that, precisely because of their low fidelity, allow moving quite flexibly. But I also hope not to get lost, or just disconnected, and so I guess some degree of fidelity will also be needed. 
Thanks for a great read.
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
Sent: 05 October 2016 04:44
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Article for Discussion

The first thing I notice about the paper is how "resplendent" it is in
beautiful writing, e.g,

"Given this symmetry between prototyping and kukiya-kiya, a prototyping bin
resplendent with objects of disinheritance would be a powerful way to see
the confluence of mind, culture, and activity."

The very next sentence tells us that the prototyping bin is really an old
plastic tub "populated with a sensory explosion of" matter out of place.
Dear XMCA reader, if you haven't read it yet, you are in for a treat.

The second thing I notice, though, is the sensory explosion of new
concepts, many of which are unexplained, but make perfect sense if you sit
and think about them. Let me just take the new concepts that appear in my
example sentences, and see if I can gloss them; the author can let me know
if I have him right.

Prototyping means developing objects from "low-fidelity" (that is, poor
copies) to "high resolution technology" (i.e. not copies at all, but new
objects). So prototyping involves the emergence of NEW technologies from
the inability to copy the old. For example, in China when the old Soviet
tractors designed for giant Kolkhoz farms all broke down, they introduced
walking tractors (which you can still see everywhere, and which have now
spread to Korea).

Kukiya-kiya means the exaptation of high resolution technology for
relatively low-fidelity purposes that are more suitable to an economy now
thrown back on a pre-imperialist and even pre-mercantilist subsistence
economy. For example, in the Korean countryside, when peasants run out of
washing powder for their washing machines, they use them to store
rice. It's in that sense that kukiya-kiya is the opposite of prototyping; a
symmetrical process.

Disinheritance means not simply alienation, in the Marxist sense of being
confronted by but unable to reappropriate the objects of your own labor,
but being written out of the cultural endowment altogether, because the
artifacts you have "inherited" confront you as white elephants, requiring
more maintenance than they can possibly justify.

I wonder if high resolution technology isn't intrinsically disinheriting.
For example, kids can still play board games that are thousands of years
old, but they can't use videogames that were made only decades ago. In
contrast, the finest extant technology for making sense of human
experience, namely language, is decidedly soft on hardware.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University.

On Tue, Oct 4, 2016 at 9:51 AM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

> Dear Xmca-ers --
> Back in June I made a hurried attempt to make available for discussion the
> paper on the design process of Zimbabwean medical professionals seeking to
> create an unusual kind of prosthetic devices. Summer and some communication
> came rushing up to overwhelm the effort.
> Zaza has been back in touch and is ready to discuss the paper. I am cutting
> and pasting the title and abstract below. And I am attaching the paper
> which was open for free access for a while, but if it is now, I cannot find
> where on the publisher's re-designed web page.
> Summer having passed other impediments will surely arise, but in the
> meantime, here is a very unusual paper about design for us to think about.
> mike