A novice takes a first shoot: spreading the symbol, not the meaning.

From: Lars Rossen (lhrossen3@gmail.com)
Date: Sun Jun 26 2005 - 21:33:30 PDT


Dear XMCA'ers,
since I am new on the list it might be sensible to use the first two
lines for a quick presentation: My name is Lars Rossen, I came to san
Diego in January 2004 to write my Bachelor thesis in psychology and
work with the LCHC Crew and the 5th Dimension. My official affiliation
is with the University of Copenhagen, Denmark where I am currently
signed up for graduate school. But good fortune has been bestowed upon
me and I will stay here in the sunnier (and funnier) part of the world
to finish my studies.

For me to join this list and diving in seems to be a case of the
hitherto undiscovered "auto-ZPD": that is when people move in on the
experts in order to map out where they themselves need to learn more
:-)
So please bear with me - I am new in these cirkles and English is my
second language...

Never the less, I read the Halliday and Wells papers with great
interest. The discussion of a reciprocal development of the social
action and the shaping of individual forms of thought via subsequent
innovatory externalization of the internalized social learning as a
(the?) way of change in the semiotic structure, led me to think of the
work done on a home page by a 13 year old girl in the 5th Dimension:

The following excerpt is a transcript from one of her main pages
which again is a transcription text-messages that has been send to her
from friends. The link that takes you here is called "freindzz"
others are "Moronzz" and "Tv-Showzz " The "freindzz"-page has no
further introduction but starts, as here, with the words "Srah Vita:
OMG!".

Srah Vita: OMG! DO U REMEMBER THAT TIME THAT WE WERE WATCHING JERRRY
SPRINGER!! IT WAS SO FUNNY! I ALMOST... NM! LOL! I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY! I AM SO HAPPY THAT UR DAD LET ME GO TO THE
BASEBALL GAME! I G2G! LUV YA!
(The full text is inserted at bottom of this e-mail.)

The first time one reads it, it becomes clear that this is indeed the
product of a different culture even after deciphering (with the help
of another 13-year old) for instance the text "G2G" as "I have got to
go", LOL as "Lots of Love" and "OMG!" as "Oh My God!" the message
itself remains a complete mystery. When held up against Vygotsky's
emphasis on the demand for support and guidance in order to form
higher mental functions and appropriate abstract semantic structures
in written texts to shape communicative skills, it seems to be a case
of where high order thinking goes when it is not facilitated by any
assistant.

In many ways the text bit shows a use of language that holds a
paradoxical double nature as both creating and defying culture: Gordon
points out that both Vygotsk and Halliday sees creativity and change
as inherent characteristics of action and interaction and the direct
source for change over time. What then makes the text message example
interesting is that it is the answer to a problem so immediate and
focal that it has only been raised in the realm of technology
appropriating teenagers who has experienced the need to abbreviated
the language to a near incomprehensible phonetic code (e.g sending the
shorted message "Wr R U?" to raise the somewhat longer question "Where
are you?"). It seems to serve as an example of the emergence of a
micro culture within a larger societal system: the teenagers are
actively adding a new system of thought to the available repertoire of
mediating tools by the use of creativity and technology. However I
will make the bold claim that the text string shows an example of how
to use the language more as a toy than as a tool! The text-message'ing
 conversationalists in question are not merely playing with words in
the prosaic sense, they are consciously engaging in a process of using
the sign and its meaning in a way that is designed to create a
cultural gab between themselves and the surrounding system of social
activity. They make this into reality by first appropriating the
proper language for greetings, goodbyes and idioms and then
transforming it. Their goal is clearly not to add to the surrounding
culture, but to separate themselves from it by inventing their own
discourse: Their artificially (!) developed sign system shows the
construction of a teenage culture that appears as an island in the
surrounding culture. It is the language of this surrounding culture
that hosts and provides to their meta-language and their creativity
that transforms it - but at the same time moving into and beyond
Hallidays 21st and last feature (Reconciling two semiotic models of
human experience), the text message senders have gone beyond regular
creative text production and reference and not only made up new words,
learned a second language or developed street slang: they have based
the whole enterprise on a technological artifact and it's restraints
to produce this new system of meaning and formed a language based
culture around it.

Furthermore the artifact that helped design this culture-forming
language tool is also the device spreading and limiting it it is not
a language that is anywhere spoken or written it is merely punched
into a hand held devised and spread via phones (and as here: the
internet, but in the form of reference to it origins) and furthermore
making their psychical relationships dependent on the ability to
partake in this formation and reification of a new written social
praxis.
They are reinventing the relationship between the signifier and the
signified in the dependence on the recipient to being able to
recognize the former, conventional meaning when seeing it in it's new
form the message is sent to spread the symbol, not the meaning.

Best regards
Lars Rossen

The rest of the transcriptions are to be found here:
http://www.uclinks.org/twiki/bin/view/SolanaBeach/FriendzZ

Srah Vita: OMG! DO U REMEMBER THAT TIME THAT WE WERE WATCHING JERRRY
SPRINGER!! IT WAS SO FUNNY! I ALMOST... NM! LOL! I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY! I AM SO HAPPY THAT UR DAD LET ME GO TO THE
BASEBALL GAME! I G2G! LUV YA!

Ashley Rios: OMG! I CAN'T EAT CORN! REMEMBER LUIS? IN DETENTION! WE
ARE SUCH GOOD FRIENDZ! I AM SO SAD THAT YOU HAVE TO MOVE! I AM GONNA
BE SO LONELY who-is-at LUNCH! OF COURSE SARAH WILL BE THERE BUT I'LL MISS YA!
LUV YA!

Chelsie G: I CANNOT EVEN TRY TO 4GET THAT TIME IN MATH THAT U WERE
FLIRTING WITH EVAN! EWW~!~ smile GIRL, U R SO MUCH BETTER THAN THAT!!
I CANNOT WAIT TILL U SPEND THE NITE SOME NITE! G2G! LUV YA!

Stephanie H: EVEN THOUGH I HAVE TO DEAL AND PUT UP WITH UR STUPID LIL
FIGHTS WITH AVERY (UGGGG) smile I LUV YA! I AM SO GLAD THAT U R MY
FRIEND! HOPE WE STAY FRIENDZ LONGER! LUV YA!

Chelsea K: U AND I NEVER REALLY GOT ALONG B4 BUT KNOW WE ARE FINE! I
AM SO GLAD THAT WE'RE FRIENDZ! I HOPE THAT WE ARE FRIENDZZ LONGER! LUV
YA!

AND AVERY: AVERY AVERY AVERY! Y THE HECK DO I PUT UP WIT YA!? UR THE
CRAZIEST PERSON I HAVE EVER MET, NEXT TO SARAH AND CHELSIE OF COURSE!
LOL! JK!!!!!! GLAD WE'RE FRIENDZZ! LUV YA!

IN CONCLUSION! I CANT EAT CORN!!! LOL C YA! KELLY

April R. I LOVE YA! I HOPE U FIND UR CELL PHONE! I DID NOT TAKE IT!!!
LOL! LUV YA! KELLY



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