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

As with symbols, it's how you use artefacts (like computers) that counts.

>From Papert and Kay, I would take two principal ideas: First (Papert), the
dynamic nature of the computer to manifest phenomena like calculus.  For
example, the theoretical generative action behind the geometric circle can
not only be conceived of as a string moved whilst held taught and held down
at one end, but in the seemingly simpler anthropomorphic notion of
repeatedly moving forward a set distance and then turning a set angle.
Second (Kay), the treatment of a computational object (of design &
implementation) as a virtual computer.

Interestingly, both of these contributions can be understood as conforming
to genetic/dialectical-materialist principles.  But what we have had as a
result of an industry of commercialisation is a massive imposition of
formal logic onto these notions.

Lienhard seems to take a similar view with respect to the macro influence
of Gutenberg printing, but he didn't refer to any mediational influence,
such as the capacity to maintain a sustained enquiry through the use of
written language.  He also didn't refer to the 16th century appearance of
Galileo, which is often taken as a qualitative milestone in the divergence
of science from Aristotelean thought, which may well have been derived from
a sustained presentation and critique of Aristotelean concepts.

A similar view can be seen when we study activity theory and its
antecedents.  Psychological development (as opposed to learning) in these
approaches is deeply concerned with qualitative changes in generalisation,
which is the manifestation of different kinds of logical thinking -- the
ability to reflexively and voluntarily use memory according to different
systems of practice.

The psychologically special thing about language (and print) is how it can
be used to interact with our memories.  This is also, clearly, a property
of computational devices, except it is not merely a mnemonic guide to our

The impression that I have of our collectively western society is that it
is utterly swamped in formal logic and its mode of operation.  Our schools
and universities are probably the worst of all in this regard, such that
even raising the notion of schooling based upon creative understanding
seems to bewilder people (and small wonder that innovators in logic were
also technical innovators, because it is necessary to create and design in
order to learn how to think).

When I was studying for my first degree (computing), I came across a rather
fascinating book by Burrell & Morgan called Sociological Paradigms and
Organisational Analysis.  Later on, whilst I was studying personality and
trying to figure out why the Jung-Myers-Briggs typology was better than
other popular formulations, I kept thinking about the relationship between
personality and those sociological paradigms
page 29).

At around that time, I would have put myself in the subjective camp of
paradigms because I related to the fluidity and dynamism of the mode of
communication and the objective paradigms were far too stale and dealing
only with externalities.  But what I didn't realise for quite a while was
that objective approach was actually divisible into formal and genetic
variants.  And that is what I think most people who reject an interest in
objects and objectivity overlook, because the genetic and dynamic view of
objectivity incorporates the good qualities of both subjective idealism and
positivist objectivity, but it requires theoretical knowledge (an
understanding of how to create things) in order to get there.


On 11 March 2015 at 16:11, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:

> It is great to see this discussion broaden out temporally to take us back
> to the oldest of communications media we can manage. The question raised in
> this manner is more or less what we set out to explore when we created a
> Department of Communication at UCSD with checkered success.
> Very interesting to see the lists and previously unspeaking voices appear,
> almost as if a minicurriculum in "The history of human mediational means
> and their associated lifeworlds" were lurking out there in xmca-land.
> To help me understand just a corner of this vaste terrain, might you,
> David, expand on these comments:
> 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
> asubject-object relation which we find in crude versions of Activity
> Theory.*
> Given our ongoing discussions about the varieties of and attitudes toward
> different versions of "THE" Activity Theory, it would help me to understand
> clear examples of a crude version
> of AT and how it is applied alongside a subtle/better version of AT and how
> it is applied in a different way.
> I am conjecturing that if we could get some broad, "germ cell"
> understanding of the issue in bold above, it might serve as an analytic
> lens through which to view of the history of mediation and activity in
> human life.
> mike
> On Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 4:36 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu>
> wrote:
> > Seven things I learned from What People Said About Books in 1498, by John
> > H. Lienhard (http://www.uh.edu/engines/indiana.htm):
> >
> > 1. Sharing is a cultural invention, not a technological one. Sharing must
> > be reinvented in each community and in each generation.
> >
> > 2. Caxton was not a cultural snob.
> >
> > 3. Margaret was one cool hipster.
> >
> > 4. Mennochio and I have a few things in common, but I hope to live to be
> > an old woman and not charcoal on a stick.
> >
> > 5. I regret Lienhard's the analysis of Medieval scholars using
> > Myers-Briggs. I wish that rubric would just die.
> >
> > 6. "We cannot have a clue as to what any technological future will be
> > until we learn it from a new generation of users." <-- What he said!!!
> >
> > 7. We can only know what we know when we have an idea what we don't know.
> > Which is why I love what he said about seeking our ignorance. And: "To
> > impose is not to discover."  Yeah. That.
> >
> > Kind regards,
> >
> > Annalisa
> >
> >
> >
> --
> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an object
> that creates history. Ernst Boesch.