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

Rolf, what did you mean by "the achievement of cooperation despite consensus"?
p. 131,

*Andy Blunden*
On 17/07/2015 8:45 AM, Rolf Steier wrote:
Are we allowed to ask questions about our paper as well? I hope so!

For a little context -in our paper, we identified particular kinds of
episodes in which participants from different disciplines seek coherence
and continuity of shared representations through bodily action. These
actions include gesture, movement and physical performance linking the
present material artifacts to objects of design. Most of these episodes
seem to involve some form of improvisation, resourcefulness or creativity,
and I'm not fully sure how to characterize these aspects of the
interactions. In most cases, the participants seem to be searching for the
best words or material representation to convey a particular intention -
when this becomes problematic or limiting - they almost fall back on what
is available - these improvised bodily performances - as a way of
maintaining continuity, and of inviting co-participants into a shared and
imagined space. These bodily actions don't seem to begin the proposals, but
are in a sense *discovered* by the participants.

I think there is something really fascinating about this kind of creativity
and resourcefulness in interaction that could be explored more deeply - and
that I'm having trouble articulating. Maybe some of you have some thoughts
on this? Alfredo - I know we've talked about this a bit before so maybe you
can add a little clarity to my question.

On Thu, Jul 16, 2015 at 9:37 PM, HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com> wrote:

Thank you very much for the sketch of your roots. I taught English in
Puigcerda and Barcelona for 5 years back in the early 70s, just before
Franco died. (He died the day I boarded the plane back to the U.S.) Place
and language are interesting, especially where language varieties meet.
Boundaries. I know mostly from my familiarity with the music of Catalunya
and Mallorca that the speech communities in each of those places treasure
their unique languages (Catalan and Mallorquin), yet see a commonality
vis-a-vis their separateness from Castilian Spanish, the national language
of Spain from 1492 on. I see a parallel between your work on boundary
objects, where individual persons collaborate to create spaces, AND
boundary objects “negotiated” by groups of people who live in real spaces.
I am thinking, among other things, of indigeneity, a big topic here in New
Mexico, with so many Native Americans. Assymetries of power. Bullying.
Testing and curriculum become instruments of war by other means. I hope my
tone does not distract from, nor diminish, the optimism created by this
thread. Yet I think that optimism is so precious because of the ground (the
world) of the dialog.

On Jul 16, 2015, at 12:13 PM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
Well, you could say that I am partly Catalan. I grew up in the province
of Valencia, where Catalan language is official language together with
Castilian Spanish. Although Valencia (the county) and Catalonia are
different regional counties, Catalan is spoken in Catalonia, Valencia, and
the Balear Islands. Some call the three together as the Catalan Countries.
I don't like borders, but I respect and enjoy cultural diversity.
Standardized testing, and the whole assumptions behind it, are an issue
also in Spain and in Catalonia; but education has been so battered during
the last years of right-wing government that I the debate have been more
about means and access than about contents and aims. Which in some sense
may be good because it moves the debates away from performance. But I have
been living outside of Spain for eight years now, so I am not the best to
update you on this either.
Best wishes,
From: xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu
<xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of
HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com>
Sent: 16 July 2015 19:54
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

Yes, you have answered my question very nicely! I especially appreciate
that you were willing to wrestle with my question, despite your lack of
familiarity with the issues here in the U.S. Am I wrong, or are you
Catalan? In which case your experience in Catalunya would take you to a
different place in critiquing schooling there, though not necessarily
unconnected to yours and Rolf’s work on boundary objects. I just met for
the second day in a row with a friend who is the liaison between our public
school district and a children’s science museum called Explora. I feel like
I’m swimming in this thread, talk about a mixed metaphor!

On Jul 16, 2015, at 12:18 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
I am sorry, Henry, but I am not very familiar with high-stakes
standardized testing (as different to standardized testing in general) or
with common core (which I quickly read is an issue in US). But I would say
that, if (school) curricula were to be consistent with the view of
education as the practice of creating conditions for certain attitudes and
dispositions to emerge--which is what I was suggesting in the paragraph you
copy--curricula would not be so much about standardized contents, but about
human sensitivities and relations. So, I would say, no, standardized
testing is not in principle in line with what I was trying to say.
I was trying to make a distinction between trying to design someone's
particular experience, and trying to design conditions for the development
of attitudes and orientations. The first is likely impossible. The second
seems to make more sense.
One may of course wonder whether those attitudes and orientations can
be considered general, and then form part of standardize measures instead
of the traditional "contents and skills". But measuring assumes some
quantitative increment in a particular aspect as the result of learning.
Growth and development, however, are about qualitative change. So, as soon
as you start measuring you would be missing growth and development. So,
again, no. I would not say that high-stakes standardized testing is in line
with what I was trying to say.
I hope I have answered your question,
From: xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu
<xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of
HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com>
Sent: 16 July 2015 07:48
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

Alfredo, you say:

"However, we cannot aim at determining any particular
situation/experience. The same may be said about EDUCATION. We cannot
intend to communicate the curriculum and make it the content of the
students' experience in the way we intend. But we can try to create the
conditions for certain attitudes and dispositions to emerge."
Would you say that high-stakes standardized testing is in line with
your construal of curriculum design? How about common core?

On Jul 15, 2015, at 5:29 PM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
Thanks a lot for the clarifications. I see now why it may be said that
designers can aim at designing for constrains but not for affordances. I
see that this way of talking is part of a designers' way to get things
done, and that it may indeed be an effective way to design for
place-making, as in the example that Michael gives of MOMA. Indeed, much of
what we report in our study is about designers talking about how spatial
features might afford some experiences in the museum while constraining
I must admit, however, that I still consider the distinction
problematic from an analytical perspective whenever our object of study is
experience, situated action, or design as situated practice. A more correct
way to talk is that affordances and constrains are the positive and
negative sides/interpretations of a single unitary category. As an actual
and concrete phenomenon, walking into a musuem implies both affordances and
constrains at the same time, whether intended or not. Which makes me wonder
whether other terminology, such as Ingold's notion of "correspondence,"
might be more appropriated when we talk about how materials and actions
become entangled into particular trajectories.
In any case, and as Rolf emphasizes, what the designers in our study
indeed do is to IMAGINE ways of being in the museum. Imagination versus
prediction may be an interesting topic emerging here for further inquiry
into design work.
Another important (and related) issue that I think is emerging here
has to do with the level of generality at which design intentions can be
expected to work (just as Bateson argued with regard to prediction). At the
level of generic social processes, and given a particular
cultural-historical background, we as designers may try to make some
generic situations more likely to occur than others (facilitating that more
or less people end up together in a given place). However, we cannot aim at
determining any particular situation/experience. The same may be said about
EDUCATION. We cannot intend to communicate the curriculum and make it the
content of the students' experience in the way we intend. But we can try to
create the conditions for certain attitudes and dispositions to emerge.
From: xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu
<xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of
Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu>
Sent: 15 July 2015 23:30
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

Hi Alfredo,

I think Rolf may have addressed the question of the differences
between affordances and constraints in his post.  The way he described the
designers as possibly setting up the corner with Pollock at MOMA.  It was a
long time ago so I'm not sure if this is the way it was or the way I
remember it, but let's just believe this is the way it was.  The painting,
I think there were three were set up in a corner off a main corridor.  The
lighting was dark, which if you have ever been to MOMA is different, in
many other parts of the museum there is a good deal of natural light (there
was this great fountain, I wonder if it is still there).  The paintings
were on tripods rather than hung on the walls and they were surrounded on
three sides by walls.  All of these I think would be considered restraints
- pushing me in to the works rather than stepping back away.  It was
impossible for more than two or three people to view the paintings at one
time and movement was limited, so there were fewer chances for social
interactions (you were not going to pick up anybody looking at Jackson
Pollock).  The atmosphere was brooding, making it more likely that viewers
would move towards internal reflection.  All of these were constraints that
canalized perspectives and feelings viewing the paintings.  You really had
only two choices, you moved in to the paintings or you moved on, which I
had done every previous time coming upon them.
The painting itself though became an affordances, an object at the
nexus of my journey through the museum, where I was in my life, and my
abilities to perceive the painitings.  This was something that could not be
designed I think because nobody could think that moment was going to
happen.   So then what is a perceived affordance.  Way back when there was
also a Manet room.  It was a round room with different variations of his
water lilies in a circle.  Almost the exact opposite in constraints it was
large, airy, a lot of natural light.  If you were looking to brood you went
somewhere else.  In the middle of the room was a wooden structure (not an
obvious bench), but you realized as random colors dissolved into water
lilies that you wanted to sit down.  You naturally moved to the center of
the room and sat (wondering if a guard would come and tell you it was
actually an important piece of art and you should get off).  The designer
anticipates a desire to soak in the room, to almost get dizzy in the
lights, and included in the design the piece of wood that will have the
perceived affordance for sitting, changing your concept of time and space.

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces+glassman.13=osu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
xmca-l-bounces+glassman.13=osu.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Alfredo
Jornet Gil
Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 3:01 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

Thanks Michael,

I think we are saying the same things, indeed, or at least more or
less. I am quite certain that Bateson referred to energy, and that he used
the mentioned examples (or similar ones) to show how the energy that moves
the pig is not a direct transfer of energy from the kick, whereas in the
case of the billiard balls, the movement of one ball is caused by the
energy that the kicking ball brings. I might be wrong in the context within
which Bateson was discussing the example, and I see that your account is in
that regard is more accurate. But the point is the same: you can not intend
the outcomes of a system by addressing only its parts as if they were
connected directly, in a linear causal fashion; as if the whole was the sum
of its parts. I do see a link with Vygotsky's rejection of S-R and his
inclusion of a third element that transforms the whole system.
But I totally agree with your comments on design intentions as they
relate to ecology, and I, as I know also Rolf does, also like very much the
notion of ecology to address these issues.
If I read you correctly, and citing Don Norman (whose work I ignore),
you suggest the possibility that the relations between design intentions
and actual experience could be thought of in terms of different levels?
That one thing is to design for what is general, but that we cannot design
for the particular. Is that right? If so, I think that Bateson had a
similar argument on prediction, does not him? That we can predict on
general levels (e.g. population), but not at the level of the particular
(e.g., individual). I haven't gone that way, but seems a promising road to
consider this jumps between levels of generality or scales.
Finally, I am not sure if I get what you mean when you say that we can
design for constrains but not for affordances. I still see that the one
presupposes the other; you can separate them in talk, but, to me, in actual
experience, a constrain is an affordance and vice-versa. I don't see how
the road has any inherent constrain that could not be an affordance at the
same time. Of course, if you take the normative stance that roads are for
cars driving through them, you may be right. But if we think of roads as
asphalt on the ground, as yet more ground only of a different shape,
texture, and color, how is that a constrain but not an affordance? Or an
affordance but not a constrain? Of course, culture constrains once you are
within the road and you are driving. But then, the constrain is not in the
road, as you seem to suggest, but in the journey; in the journeyman that
carries some cultural way of orienting and affectively relating to its
environment so that particular constrains are taken for granted despite the
possibility of being otherwise. But I might not have thought it well/long
enough and of course I might be wrong. I would like to understand your
position here better.

From: xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu
<xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of
Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu>
Sent: 15 July 2015 20:32
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

Hi Alfredo,

I have been reading Bateson through a cybernetics lens lately (Bateson
along with Lewin and his wife Margaret Mead were part of the original Sears
conferences)  and I'm not sure that's right or I am victim to the "when you
have a hammer, everything looks like a nail" but....
I think Bateson was arguing with those looking to apply the more
physical/mathematical origins of cybernetics to human or really (pace the
pig story) and system that moves beyond simple physical feedback loops.  I
think his larger point is that everything has a response within the larger
feedback system that exists but we cannot go - what Bateson refers to as
MIND.  Attempts to create and control feedback loops, to try and design a
system for specific types of feedback is a dangerous proposition.
This I think is the reason that affordances really can't be designed
into an ecology, only a recognition of the context in which actions are
taking place (and I say this having no idea what Gibson's relationship to
cybernetics was).  Taking Larry's example of the girl it is perhaps also
likely that the girl could have taken the fixing of hair as a criticism, an
attack, and it might have destroyed her confidence.  Both make sense in
terms of feedback loops, but only ad hoc.  So if a designer does in some
way design that experience into the action, even without meaning they are
taking a large chance, because they do not know the trajectory it will
take.  We simply need objects that are part of our journey, part of the
larger context but not designed for purpose, for feedback.  There is no
assumption about trajectory.
I think Don Norman sort of muddied the waters on this, but in an
interesting way.  That we can assume people are going to want to do certain
things in a very general environment - when  you enter a dark room you want
light, so it is possible to design objects that meet that need that we are
more likely to find in the moment that we need them.  But I think that is
very different from the idea of specifically guiding feedback loops that
even take generalized experience in a certain direction.  I am thinking
about Dewey, and he makes a similar argument to Bateson with his concept of
transactions.  Although he does seem to think that it is possible to create
a larger field of action so we can see at least local interrelationships.
But his idea of experience is also very much one of discovery based on
needs at the immediate moment - social relations act as a vehicle for these
discoveriesn(Dewey of course was writing before Gibson and for most of his
life before cybernetics.  I also wonder what he thought of cybernetics).
I think I disagree with you, constraints are not about the journey but
about the road.  If you build a road on the side of the river you are
constrained because no matter what, you cannot turn right.  Your direction
has already been partially determined by the designer of the road.  But the
mistake we make is in thinking that also controls the trajectory of the
individual's journey.  The effect of designers on trajectories of action is
important, but limited.
The primary place that designers have influence on affordances it
seems to me is by being able to create a unique context for an individual's
and a group's that limit possible trajectories on an individual's journey.
But we should never mistake those constraints for affordances.  I think
Bateson might argue it is hubris to do so.  Perhaps this is what you are
saying Alfredo.

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces+mglassman=ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu
[mailto:xmca-l-bounces+mglassman=ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Alfredo Jornet Gil
Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 12:38 PM
To: Rolf Steier; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

I'd like to follow up on Michael's post by asking a question: Are not
affordances presupposed by constraints and are not constraints presupposed
by affordances? If so, I would wonder whether it makes sense to ask whether
museums should be designed for affordances and constraints.
What I think is clear from the anecdote that you bring about the
Jackson Pollock corner is that whatever EXPERIENCE emerges from being
somewhere (i.e. being someone at some time in some place) cannot be
INTENDED. And I think this applies both to designers and users, to those
who set things up for you to experience and to you, who could not foresee
what your experience was going to turn you into before you go through it.
I think that the big issue that you bring on the table (to continue
with Larry's metaphor) has to do with a difference between physical
relations and social relations, and the idea of MEDIATION. Gregory Bateson
noticed that the relations that are the subject matter in physics are not
the same as those that are the subject matter in communication. He noticed
that physical relations (relations that are the object of study of physics)
transfer energy in direct manners: a billiard ball hits another ball and we
can anticipate the exact speed and direction that the second ball will take
based on the energy that is in the system ball + ball + someone hitting. In
living beings, the things are different. Bateson explained, if we kick a
pig's ass (I think he used this somehow bizarre example) the reaction of
the pig is not accounted for by the energy that is contained in the kick,
at least not in a direct manner. The energy that moves the pig is from a
different source. Before Bateson, it was Vygotsky and his notion of
mediation who would most clearly state that social relations are not
direct, but mediated.
So, how can design go about this? If we, along with Dewey and
Vygotsky, consider experience to be a unity of person and environment, and
we assume as well that this is a social (not just individual) category, and
that how a situation is experienced is also refracted through the social
relations within which we engage, the most designers can do is to foster
social relations go on, giving afordances to prcesses of signification,
without intending to embed meanings. It is about affordances/constraints,
but not about how to interpret something, but about going about
interpreting. I think.
Best wishes,
From: xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu
<xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of
Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu>
Sent: 15 July 2015 18:04
To: Rolf Steier; eXtended Mind, Culture,        Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

So after reading the article and the e-mail discussion I'm beginning
to think there is a really big issue here that I am trying to grapple with,
especially in terms of boundary objects (which I admittedly do not
understand very well).  And it relates to the metaphor of the table (both
as discussed by Larry and Ingold as interpreted by Rolf).  It is this, in
the museum should the place be set up as affordances, perceived
affordances, or constraints?  It seems the museum in the study has
potential affordances for the users.  The cultural historical moment
(unable to think of any other word) of the museum sets the context, meaning
those walking through the museum are going to be restricted by the
historical and cultural boundaries leading up to the art work, along with
the expectations and needs of the individuals moving through the museum,
but they will come across objects/artifacts that they think meets the needs
of their particular journeys. The posing becomes both an internalization
and externalization of the thinking (or are they one continuum at this
point?) in which they both make sense of the object in terms of their own
meaning and needs and also try and communicate what they found, leaving a
potential trails for others.
An example that has stayed with me for years.  Living in New York I
used to go to the Museum of Modern Art on a semi-regular basis (in large
part to try and meet women, always unsuccessful).  I would often visit the
Jackson Pollock corner.  I would look and it would always be meaningful to
me and I would move one quickly.  Once, soon after graduating college and
unemployed and about as frustrated as I'd ever been I viewed the same
paintings.  At that moment Pollock made sense to me, a deep emotional punch
- the paintings became objects that could bridge my rage, sadness and fear
to the next moment in my life.  There is no way a designer could have
planned this affordance.  It was based on the movement not just through the
museum but my life.  I think back to what my gestures, or even posing might
have been at that moment.  A slumping in to myself, an internalization
perhaps of a socially sanctioned symbol of rage.  But perhaps a posture
also that said stay away.  The place I created in that moment was one that
included me and whatever demons Jackson Pollock fought with.
Or should museums should be designed for what Don Norman refers to as
perceived affordances?  The table that is set up can be one of perceived
affordances.  What I grab for the spoon because its shape makes sense in my
need/desire to eat cereal.  The focus goes from cultural history setting a
general context - Jackson Pollock is a sanctioned way to bridge emotions,
to actually setting the trajectory of the act.  I sit at a table, I want to
eat cereal, I must follow sanctioned rule systems, I know what I need at
that moment and look for objects that fit my needs.  Is the room in the
article about perceived affordances.  Should the museum be designed for
perceived affordances.  A person coming upon an object may be thinking this
because of what it means in our society to be walking through a museum.
The object offers an opportunity to make communicative gestures, such as
recreating the posture of The Thinker the authors refer to.  I have seen
many shows, movies where this happens, from movies from the 1940s to the
Rugrats.  This is the cultural cue of what we do with art objects in a
museum, we gesture to both understand and communicate.
Or should museums be designed as constraints.  In the Metropolitan
Museum of Art (sorry for the New York centric places but that's where I
spent most of my museum life) the rooms are set up very, very carefully, so
that in many ways the objects (at least are meant to I think) to constrain
your thinking, so that you are responding to a certain period or school of
art, understanding how it all fits together.  The table metaphor fits here
as well I think.  Does the table constrain our actions, limiting to certain
types of behavior (use only certain types of forks for certain types of
Okay, too much I know.


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces+mglassman=ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu
[mailto:xmca-l-bounces+mglassman=ehe.ohio-state.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Rolf Steier
Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 6:58 AM
To: Alfredo Jornet Gil
Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity; mike cole;
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The Emergence of Boundary Objects

Thank you for your thoughts Larry,

I wanted to pick up on your suggestion of the table metaphor because I
think that's really interesting. I believe you are proposing the shared
meal as analogous to the kind of orientation work (or perhaps Leigh Star
might consider this translation or pre-translation work?) that precedes the
task at hand (in the case of our study, the task is design). Excerpt 3 from
our study might be relevant here, when in turn 6, the curator turns to the
researcher, leans in, and points in order to create a shared visual field.
The curator and the researcher can now orient towards the existing
gallery in order to imagine future, possible changes in the gallery. The
curator is in a sense extending an invitation to sit down at the same table
to be able to share his vision for the gallery.
This shared meal might of course also be considered designed. Ingold (
*Making*) actually uses this same table metaphor to demonstrate the
facilitation of activity as an aspect of design - *"Everyday design catches
the narrative and pins it down, establishing a kind of choreography for the
ensuing permanence that allows it to proceed from the moment you sit down
to eat. In such a straightforward task as laying the table - in enrolling
into your relation bowl and spoon, milk jug and cereal box - you are
designing breakfast."*
There is an improvisational quality to the bodily/performative
orientation work that is maybe not captured by the shared expectations of
sitting down to a meal. But at the same time, we can also consider the
workspace of the multidisciplinary design team as designed in the same way
that the meal is designed in order to support the objective of the meeting.
That is, the, design team must first engage in a place-making activity for
their collaborative setting in order to attend to the design of the
exhibition space. The designers set the table with a white board, sketches
and design ideas, perhaps some coffee... etc., before turning to the task
of imagining the future exhibition.
Lubomir, you asked - *"who are the placemakers -- the architects or
the USERS of designed/created/socially produced spaces?" *I think this is
difficult to answer because both architect and user play a role in the
place-making process. The architects embed possible meanings (if place and
meaning are analogous than perhaps these might be considered 'place
potentials') that only emerge through the activity of the users. I'm
only thinking through this now, so feel free to elaborate or to disagree!

On Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 11:28 PM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <

Thanks a lot, Lubomir!

On to your question, I am tempted to stretch a bit across frameworks
and answer that, the difference between the process of performing an
activity in space and developing a sense of place would be akin to the
difference between an operation and an action as per Activity theory.

Again, we must be careful on the distinction between space as a sort
of objective geometrical coordinate, or space as not becoming a part
of "an"
experience (in Dewey's sense). In the first sense, the sentence
"performing an activity in space" makes only sense when talking about
geometrical practices, for example; one may think that in some
engineering practices, it is possible to orient to space as space, as
a coordinate. BUT still, the experience of being doing such practice,
if it has import to further development in the person, it must be
refracted through the person's experience; there must be involvement,
and therefore placemaking. In the second case, we might think of us
performing some activity within taking much of it, without noticing we
are doing. It is in this sense that I do the bridge with operations
versus actions.
I would not have many problems in associating place with meaning and
placemaking with meaning-making, although I personally would be
careful if doing so, emphasizing the situational and distributed
nature of the process that placemaking attempts to capture.

Hope this helps
From: Lubomir Savov Popov <lspopov@bgsu.edu>
Sent: 14 July 2015 23:06
To: Alfredo Jornet Gil; Rolf Steier; eXtended Mind, Culture,
Cc: mike cole; lchc-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
Subject: RE: [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
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
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
Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 2:44 PM
To: Alfredo Jornet Gil
Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity; mike cole;
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

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
I hope that those risks taken may now open space for
questions/comments to emerge in the discussion, and I look forward
learn a lot from them.

*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
Secondly, I have become really interested in "practices of
and that is just how Alfredo and Rolf characterize their two
installations and the professional teams that cooperate to create
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?


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)