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[Xmca-l] Re: Why Computers Make So Little Difference

Halliday says that the tape recorder is probably the second most important
technological development in linguistics (the printing press, which he
correctly ascribes to China and not to Gutenberg, is the first). It was
with the printing press that private reading really became
practical--reading became an intra-mental activity, a kind of socialized
inner speech. But it was with the tape recorder that the clear distinctness
(temporal and lexicogrammatical) between written and spoken speech became
clear for the first time.

Nevertheless, the tape recorder has had an impact on pedagogy that is
almost negligible. In EFL, where I now work, it served to make a huge
amount of money for the distributors of language laboratories. But language
laboratories worked by fencing learners into cubicles, and replacing the
subject-subject relation we find in natural language use with a
subject-object relation which we find in crude versions of Activity Theory.
There are now language laboratories lying unused in almost every major
university on earth.

Halliday ALSO says this: whenever we try to replace an evolved solution
(like face to face pedagogy) with a designed or an invented one (like the
language laboratory, or asynchronous CMC based instruction), the first
attempt almost always fails. The reason why it fails is that it
overemphasizes the hardware and underemphasizes the interface. The most
spectacular example of this (according to Halliday) was the collapse of
volitionally planned economy in the Soviet Union, but a counter-example is
the way the land reform was carried out in China in the 1950s (when
Halliday was there and in which he took an active part).

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 9 March 2015 at 21:31, Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu> wrote:

> Hi Annalisa,
> I wonder if the role of culture is not so much in determining how we do
> use tools as into how we should be wary of using tools.  Culture is by its
> nature I think centripetal in nature.  Tools, especially such as the
> Internet tend to be centrifugal.   Should we depend on culture to put
> constraints on our uses.
> There is a phrase I first heard two years ago that now I seem to hear
> every other week,  "If you have a really good hammer, everything starts to
> look like a nail."  Really good technologies start to make everything look
> like a nail it seems - especially in our medicine show society where we run
> towards the next barker/grafter before we are done cursing out the last for
> the damage he/she has done.
> I think in this sense Heidegger's "On the Question of Technology" is a
> profound mea culpa that every person working in technology should be forced
> to read and discuss on an annual basis - the dangers of becoming too
> enamored with the hammer.
> Culture has its own dangers thought that I think we also must own up to.
> It wants to stay a centripetal force, bring everything back in, keep things
> as they are.  The (perhaps dialectical) relationship between tools and
> culture - I think Vygotsky caught the mood, these are the things both
> dreams and nightmares are made of.
> Michael
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
> xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Annalisa Aguilar
> Sent: Sunday, March 08, 2015 7:30 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Why Computers Make So Little Difference
> Hi Michael,
> Comparing the Internet to the printing press, they possess similarities,
> but it would be like comparing a worldwide shipping system (with trucks,
> trains, and ships, and docks, and longshore men, etc) to an Ancient
> Egyptian chariot. Perhaps. I say that since only certain people could enjoy
> chariots, which required at least a horse and a driver; not everyone had a
> printing press, or a book, and few could read. Nothing about the printing
> press itself that predicts distribution. That is more the desire for
> knowledge, and at that time it was combined with the desire to know the
> Bible. Other content came later. And then the judgements of who was allowed
> to learn to read and to write (as well as to read and to write what).
> It is an interesting project to compare them, however.
> I would like to emphasize what you said, Michael, that we still don't know
> what the Internet is doing to us. It is still not clear how the tool will
> change us: how we will augment to tool and how it will change us in the
> Möbius strip kind of way.
> If it's OK, I would like to repeat something I said in the recent past
> that I think that even Marx (or Vygotsky) could predict the Internet. Seems
> Orwell was closer in some ways. In 1992, for example, I had no idea what
> the WWW was. In 1994 I learned about BBS, FTP, newsgroups, and email,
> though I know these tools were around a lot longer than when I learned of
> it.
> So if we can't know and we are here living through these developments in
> real time, how could Marx? How could Vygotsky? I believe there is a quality
> about these tools that does transcend their 19th and 20th century
> consciousnesses. Some things are going to be constant, say that humans
> still need food to eat. But do we need selfies? Do we need Facebook pages?
> I liked your Mumfordesque comparison to clocks and how they changed our
> sense of time, and their creation of boundaries where there are actually
> none (or there are just signifiers of: sun out/sun not out). Of course, the
> clock also changed how we sleep, since we can do things later by lamplight
> (and later by lightbulb) and so we go to sleep later than we used to.
> This is to point out that it isn't a tool in isolation that changes us,
> but in the environment in which it appears, as well as other historic and
> cultural realities and also how one tool interacts with other tools and
> importantly with the people who use them. I take it everyone here already
> knows that, so I don't meant to belabor that and give the impression that I
> think you don't! :)
> Kind regards,
> Annalisa