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

Thanks for pushing this inquiry of mine another few paces up the hill,
David. I believe I have all those issues of MCA to hand. I'll scout them
out and consider them in light of the distinction between vulgar and
less-vulgar forms of activity theory. But see if I have this straight.

A vulgar AT person reduces mental life to a subject-object dualism in which
the fact of an always present subject-subject (essential!) relationship is
obliterated in one way or another.
I expect that each of your examples will show problem in its own way, but
the directionality of the reduction is clear.

I believe that this is a common interpretation of Leontiev's form of AT.
The Rubenshteinians' slogan was "All to the subject" in protest.

I will start looking for the examples you picked out for us. Might you, as
a further step, provide examples from published studies (not necessarily in
MCA which denies any claim to AT-guru status!) that support
non-reductionist versions of AT? Who should we be emulating?

I'll stick with this topic, although the general issues of history of
mediational means and their activity doppelgangers  that others are
dangling before us is very tempting. As I wrote previously, I think a
common approach to making both subject-object/and subject-subject relations
BOTH a part of our analyses would be a positive step. Then we might be able
to complexify.

hedgehog for now

On Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 2:52 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:

> Human language learning at the University of Chicago in the mid-seventies
> (which I did as an undergraduate in the Chinese department) was a lot like
> rodent maze-learning. You checked into the language laboratory for two
> hours of drilling almost every day. It went something like this:
> TAPE RECORDER: "Ni you shu mei you?--piao" (Do you have a book--a ticket)
> STUDENT: "Ni you piao mei you?" (Do you have a ticket?)
> TAPE RECORDER: "Ni you piao mei you?" (Do you have a ticket?)
> STUDENT: "Ni you piao mei you?" (Do you have a ticket?)
> As you can see, there's a stimulus, a response, a reinforcement, and an a
> reinforcement of the reinforcement, just to be extra sure. That was from
> the educational psychology point of view then current, which Mike may well
> recognize from HIS undergraduate days.
> >From the early activity theory point of view, I take it what I was doing
> was something like this: I was the subject, the language laboratory was a
> tool/sign artefact, the correct model was the object upon which I was
> operating and the correct response was the outcome. The rules were that I
> was to do this five days a week, and there was a sign-in sheet delivered to
> a teaching assistant on a weekly basis. The community, therefore, did not
> include a professor, but it did include a fellow student paid minimum wage
> to supervise the language laboratory (I speak feelingly, I did it before I
> got a better paying job as a janitor), and I could glimpse of the tops of
> the heads of my classmates in other cubicles when I stood up to leave after
> two hours. Such was the division of labor.
> You can see this fairly crude version of AT in a lot of articles in MCA. In
> Vol. 15, No. 3, on p. 182, Wolff-Michael Roth uses it to lay out the A.N.
> Leontiev's prototypical primitive communism situation (the hunters and
> beaters). Iin vol. 15, No 4. on p. 327, Helena Worthen uses it to talk
> about teaching people to negotiate working conditions. In Vol. 16, No. 2,
> on p. 136, Norman Friesen uses something even more crude--the so-called
> speech circuit, from Saussure's 1911 Course in General Linguistics
> (complete with droopy lines connecting a speaker's mouth to a hearer's
> ear!) I take it that the model of language in ALL of these is basically
> that of my old language laboratory: the objects of language are essentially
> objects without minds, aspects of the environment to be acted upon in order
> to achieve particular outcomes, no different from a stone to be made into a
> tool, or a mastodon to be transformed into dinner.
> The problem is that this view of language is essentially that of your
> average psychotic serial killer. It doesn't capture the simple fact that
> the object of language is not an object at all, but rather a fellow
> subject--often--yea, if we believe Chomsky, most often, that is, in the
> vast majority of instances of language use we encounter in a single
> day--the object is actually myself. I think there are some uses of AT (even
> the Engestrom triangle) which very clearly DO take this into account. I
> have seen some versions of the Engestrom triangle where it is used to link
> two subjects and there is no object at all. In Vol. 13, No. 4, Katherine
> Brown and Jule Gomez de Garcia point out that even in the unnatural
> conditions of language use we find in a literacy classroom, the object of
> language use is always SHARED with other human subjects.
> In 1984, eight years after I'd left the University of Chicago, I found
> myself on a bus in Beijing. The bus was full as only Beijing buses could be
> in those days, and a scratchy din emanated from a tiny loudspeaker near
> where I was standing. I watched as people one by one got on the bus, pushed
> their way to the conductor, and bought a ticket, and only then did I
> realize that the loudspeaker was a human voice saying:
> "Mei piao mai piao, a! Mei piao mai piao, a!"
> In other words, "Do you have a ticket?"
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> On 12 March 2015 at 01:11, 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.
> >

It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an object
that creates history. Ernst Boesch.