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[Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

Thank you Alfredo,

By the way, I should have started my mail with an appreciation for your article and Mike's choice to bring it to our attention.

Now it is almost clear how you use the word and conceptualize the phenomenon. I would respectfully ask you for a few more things: what is the difference between the process of performing an activity in space and developing a sense of place. I personally interpret place in terms of appropriation of space in the process of human activity and the subsequent meaning making which has existential importance for the individual. The phenomenon of place is on par with the phenomenon of meaning and placemaking is a process on par with meaning making. How do you position yourself regarding such conceptualization?

On a similar note, who are the placemakers -- the architects or the USERS of designed/created/socially produced spaces? 

By the way, I might be stretching too much the part on place and distracting from other aspects of your wonderful article. 

Best wishes,


-----Original Message-----
From: Alfredo Jornet Gil [mailto:a.j.gil@iped.uio.no] 
Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 4:31 PM
To: Lubomir Savov Popov; Rolf Steier; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Cc: mike cole; lchc-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
Subject: Re: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

Dear Lubomir,

thanks for your questions. I agree that the notion of place has been around in different forms during at least the last 20 years or so, from geography with Tuan, technology with Dourish, to the so-called place-based education. I must also admit that we did not work with a carefully operationalized definition when using the term in the paper, but I can of course share my view on the issue and how I understand it. 

For me, as in most of the cases mentioned above, place is a way of emphasizing the experiential in what comes to be socially or humanly relevant. Most simply, and this most of you probably know, is about the difference between a rationalistic, geometrical conception of space versus a more phenomenological one. I read Streek (2010) citing Cresswell about place: "Place is about stopping and resting and becoming involved". This is precisely what we aimed to emphasize in our paper, that whatever practices were involved in getting things done together in an interdisciplinary group, they involved a process of becoming involved, experientially, emotionally, bodily, with the materials and currents going on in a given situation. 

I also read Ingold (2011) warning against the difference between space and place in terms of space being a reality substance and place being constituted by subsequent level of abstractions. In my view, experience is not about abstraction, but about involvement. And place is about space as it is refracted in intelligible experience; not about an abstraction over an objective field, but more related to a perezhivanie in Vygotsky's sense.

From: Lubomir Savov Popov <lspopov@bgsu.edu>
Sent: 14 July 2015 21:55
To: Rolf Steier; eXtended Mind, Culture,        Activity; Alfredo Jornet Gil
Cc: mike cole; lchc-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
Subject: RE: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

Dear Rolf and Alfredo,

What is your definition for place? How is place different from space? I ask because people use the words place and peacemaking in dozens of different ways; it is just mindboggling.



-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces+lspopov=bgsu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+lspopov=bgsu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Rolf Steier
Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 2:44 PM
To: Alfredo Jornet Gil
Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity; mike cole; lchc-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

Hello All,

I also want to thank everyone for participating in this discussion, and I'm looking forward to developing some of the ideas from our text. I think that Alfredo did a nice job of introducing the context of our study, so I don't have much to add. The two aspects that Mike brings up are also very much of interest to me, and I think quite closely related. I think we treat 'distributed imagination' in this instance as a form of place-making for a space that doesn't exist yet (the museum exhibition). At the same time, the place where this design work is occurring is also undergoing a transformation from space to place as the participants construct representations and begin to collaborate. Alfredo and I were playing with an illustration of these trajectories as merging, though we weren't able to bring it together - so maybe this discussion can allow us to flesh out these thoughts.

I'm looking forward to the discussion!

On Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 7:38 PM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>

>  Hi Mike and all,
>  thanks for recommending our article for discussion, and thanks to 
> anyone who wishes to participate. We really appreciate it! I can try 
> to say a bit about the article.
> Rolf and I did our PhD as part of two different projects that had a 
> science museum and an art museum as settings for the design of 
> technology-enhanced learning environments. Early on in the PhD, we 
> begun talking about notions of space as central in our respective 
> projects. During the last year, we shared office and had much more 
> time to discuss. We had always wanted to write something together and 
> the MCA special issue on Leigh Star seemed the perfect occasion.
> The design meetings involved many participants from different 
> backgrounds, from education to architecture and software engineering, 
> and sometimes it was difficult for the teams to advance towards 
> definite solutions. I remember watching the videos from the first 
> months of design work, hoping to find something for writing a first 
> paper. I found different interesting issues to pursue, but one episode 
> clearly stood out from the rest. It was a design meeting, after many 
> meetings with lots of disagreements and dead ends, in which a 
> discussion that concerned a wall in the museum space unexpectedly 
> appeared to trigger lots of good ideas in the design team. It stroke 
> me that something as banal and simple as a wall had been important in 
> making it possible for the participants to achieve shared perspectives 
> on the task and go on. I remembered then to have read something about 
> boundary objects, and it was then that the figure of Leigh Star begun to be relevant.
> In this paper, the aim was to consider boundary "objects"  from the 
> perspective of the participants' "bodies," which stood out in our 
> analyses as particularly relevant for the achievement of co-operation 
> despite lack of substantive agreement. Rather than shared substantive 
> understandings, what seemed to allow the participants to proceed was 
> being able to orient towards and perform specific situations that were 
> lived-in (experienced, gone through). We recur to the notions of 
> place-making and place-imagining to emphasize this per-formative 
> aspect that has to do with inhabiting a place and finding one's ways around it.
> We wrote the paper as we were finishing our respective 
> theses/defenses, and we wanted to do something that should feel fun 
> and free. We felt that Star's work was broad and were encouraged to 
> connect different ideas from different scholars. The schedule was 
> tight, and, although I think we managed to put together some ideas, we 
> may have taken many risks in bridging across the different frameworks.
> I hope that those risks taken may now open space for 
> questions/comments to emerge in the discussion, and I look forward to learn a lot from them.
> Thanks,
> Alfredo
>  ------------------------------
> *From:* lchcmike@gmail.com <lchcmike@gmail.com> on behalf of mike cole 
> < mcole@ucsd.edu>
> *Sent:* 14 July 2015 19:17
> *To:* eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> *Cc:* Rolf Steier; Alfredo Jornet Gil; lchc-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> *Subject:* The Emergence of Boundary Objects
>   If my information is correct, both Alfredo and Rolf have some time 
> in the upcoming period to discuss their article on the emergence of 
> boundary objects.
>  So, to start the discussion.
>  I am finding this article enormously generative of ways to think 
> about some perennial issues that have recently been on my mind. The 
> entire discussion leading up to the formulation of transforming spaces 
> into places (and recreating spaces in the process) locks in directly 
> with our current work on the 5th Dimension, which i have been writing 
> about for some time as a tertiary artifact and an idioculture, but 
> which most certainly fits the concept of a boundary object.
>  Secondly, I have become really interested in "practices of imagination"
> and that is just how Alfredo and Rolf characterize their two 
> installations and the professional teams that cooperate to create them.
> And they make a new linkage by referring to distributed imagination, 
> which is most certainly going to require imagination to fill in the 
> ineluctable gaps, and provide us with some insight insight into the processes involved.
>  Those are my issues for starters. What strikes others?
>  mike
>  PS--
> For those of you who missed this topic, the article is attached.
>  --
> Both environment and species change in the course of time, and thus 
> ecological niches are not stable and given forever (Polotova & Storch, 
> Ecological Niche, 2008)