[xmca] Activity Systems, Time, and a shared semantics

From: bb (xmca-whoever@comcast.net)
Date: Mon Oct 17 2005 - 13:58:16 PDT

Thanks Carol, for the chance to take these animations further than just some fleeting post to xmca.

In San Diego, at aera , Mike described the extended triangle diagram to me as something intended to be timeless -- this is Mike's and Yrjo's chance to refute my quite possibly faulty recollection... although... I do agree with this assertion at a fundamental level. Coincidentally, I once expressed to Mike (aera n'orleans) that i took the extended triangle to be content-free, that is, one pours in the content of any particular situation, i.e. instantiates it, and the relations expressed in the diagram are then are mapped to relations among the particular instantiations.

So I totally agree that what i animated is content free, unless you read some paper that instantiated it. Somewhere in MCA could be one, by some author, who, if stated, could be accused of self-promotion, and while I despise self promotion, I'm stuck figuring out how one can communicate with others without sharing.

Onward and upward. Just what does the diagram provide, or even better, add to insight?

Well, by way of semantics, I'll venture the following, and again, MC and YE can comment, refute, add, edit, fix, extend, etc. IMHO the extended triangle, as a diagram makes the following assertions:

1a) There IS a well defined subject, object, artifact, division of labor, etc., (because the diagram parses activity into these categories).

1b) The existence of these categories is timeless - the diagram does not change over time.

2a) There ARE relations among these categories, dialectially.

2b) These relations are timeless.

All this timelessness is why I have not pursued the animated extended triangle approach, because I realized it was not a functional approach, save the following:

What does the animated diagram add? I modeled the individual moving from one system to another and back *as a system*. This makes the assertion that the fundamental categories of an activity system (which Yrjo, I understand, takes as a collective) , and their relations, can be applied to an individual, at least in one case. That's the claim to be investigated. I only have partial support for it in one case. What I think the thing to do is, to proceed with this assertion as a tentative one, so to gather another case or so which will refute it, and arise with a new and more functional assertion.


> Mike ĖI would disagree. As enchanting as those moving Activity Systems were
> (bb, they really are, I loved them, and stared at them for several minutes
> quite mesmerized), they were still content-empty in relation to any
> particular system, and thatís what I understood you, Mike, to mean as an
> abstraction. I think at Seville people were thinking that itís just to easy
> to draw up a simple system, as if thatís an explanation. The explanation
> comes discursively. I am thinking particularly of the Sevillepresentation
> of graffiti in East Berlin, which started off as a simple description,
> listing the elements and then went into sense, meaning and power.
> So, how does moving and changing size mimic time?
> Carol
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mike Cole [mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com]
> Sent: Saturday, October 15, 2005 5:20 PM
> To: macdonaldc@educ.wits.ac.za; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Activity Systems and Time
> I believe that modern graphics program afford representation both of
> variability and time and the two
> combined, Carol. I beieve that is what bb has been playing with.
> mike
> On 10/15/05, Carol Macdonald < macdonaldc@educ.wits.ac.za
> <mailto:macdonaldc@educ.wits.ac.za> > wrote:
> Mike pointed out that the Activity System is an abstraction: I see it as an
> external tool, and as it is currently drawn, it only represents two
> dimensions. Timeówhich can't be represented, is the fourth dimension and
> as such, we could only represent it by having a continuously moving system,
> but this is best done discursively as the relationships are continuously
> changing. As Mike (1996:141) said:
> The various components of an activity system do not exist in isolation from
> one another; rather, they are constantly being constructed, renewed, and
> transformed as outcome and cause of human life.
> It is our job to describe the construction, renewal and transformation and
> changed relationships: the schema per se cannot do that for us.
> Carol Macdonald
> Wits School of Education
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