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[Xmca-l] Re: Kukiya--kiya incident and question

Zaza, Mike, all, 

Mike comments raises in my a question that I already had while reading the article, and which has to do with the analogies that have been here drawn between kukiya-kiya in Zimbabwe, and the Maker movement that is becoming commonplace in many Western countries, a "movement" the cultivation and research around which there are increasing amounts of public money being injected into (my department in Oslo, for example, has just now become involved in a large European project about maker spaces). I was wondering how much we are gaining by positively comparing both movements, and what we may be loosing (that is, how these two different movements may actually be very different historical movements). And so I was thinking that perhaps the distinctions may become when the phenomena are approached as historical materialist phenomena. Because one may easily see that, despite the similarities being discussed in terms of "work around," kukiya-kiya and the maker movement in the West are truly different things, albeit perhaps outcomes of the same economical system. Thus, Zaza's discussion on disinheritance, which makes all the sense in the context of "the role international development schemes and humanitarian aid efforts play in destabilising African economies" (p. 172). Obviously, the same discussion does not seem to fit the Maker movement, the origin of which may indeed relate to an over-production and devaluation of otherwise expensive and resource-demanding technologies, as well as of an emergent network of literate actors using new media to spread practices and ideas, to disagree with established orders, etc... These two movements seem extremely different to me. 

But, of course, at the level of imagination, at the level of opening new ways of perceiving and conceiving reality, both practices seem to have lots in common. I think it is to this level that many of the questions I find emerging in Mike's as well as in our previous discussion posts. I wonder what the author and other xmca'ers think about this differences/similarities.

From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu>
Sent: 10 October 2016 01:56
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l]  Kukiya--kiya incident and question

Zaza et al -

As good luck would have it, this discussion has started just as a junior
colleague is starting to start to write up a project in which he was
seeking to implement a prototype activity
using complex modern digital equipment. The project involved UCSD
undergrads and kids in a far off neighborhood making a complex Xmas display
using arduinos and gingerbread, among other things. On any session, half
the undergrads were learning at UCSD and half were with the kids and the
"expert" on arduinos and making odd displays (fancy electronic hats to wear
to the open day at our local race track). We wanted both to create a
prototype distribute educational/communication system and to contrast
learning in situ with learning via the video/audio feed.

Everything that could go wrong went wrong, but in the end, all of the kids
and students were enthusiastic about the experience and the darned display
sort of worked. The focus of my work with the class this was a part of was
to tell them that the class was a gold mine of experience and information
on how to engage in creating work arounds. But we never theorized the idea
( somehow is seems that creating activities does not count in the maker
movement as much as creating gizmos). It seems we were too busy creating
work arounds to stop and theorize about the mess we had gotten ourselves
into. Now your paper has provided a strong rationale for prototyping,
design, that emphasizes ideas I associate with the chat tradition. And of
course it is an indigenous category for the people among whom you worked.

As a result of the discussion, I looked up "work around' on google scholar.
The emphasis there is on modern societies where, relatively speaking, there
are lots of resources. But as you point out, the special interest in your
case does not imply that the concept only applies there, but "even in the
make movement in the US."  In a way, that tom hanks film about the guy
stranded on Mars seems a relevant case.

I also think your emphasis at the beginning and in your examples in the
following is important:

The prototype not only choreographs what the team members are doing, but
also makes
different future uses imaginable. The prototype amplifies tensions in the
team and puts on display how an emergent tool, the bottle-feeding device,
comes to be loaded with “previous patterns of reasoning” [and cognitive
residue-mc](Pea, 1953, p. 53).

This was certainly true in the local case as well.

In moving ahead to develop our own ideas, it would be helpful to get more
clarity about your Figures 2 & 3, the radiating sequences of bids,
themes,contexts, and scaffolds. The print is so small that I cannot
decipher the diagrams. I would really like to get clearer on how you
categorized the talk in the session starting with Esther, but am having
trouble connecting text and diagram. Maybe its only my aging eyesight, but
this may be a problem for others as well. Could you perhaps post a note
about the two diagrams and how you move from transcript to diagram?


PS-- I encountered an unusual kukiya-kiya on Friday. I asked an
administrator about an account I wanted to get updated on. In order to get
that information, she had to log onto one of (obviously many) web pages in
the university. As soon as she figured out where to get the information,
she turned to a roledex on her desk next to her keyboard. "It has all the
passwords" she said, adding, "I know you aren't supposed to write them
down, but....."
This seems like a kukiya-kiya work-around arising from encryption concerns
that overload the system and force the use of a backup that is considered
risky and incorrect. But it works and no one is telling.