Re: [xmca] technological tools & foreign cultures

From: Wolff-Michael Roth (
Date: Wed Feb 08 2006 - 10:18:40 PST

This is the problem of "affordances" generally. They allow you to do
some things really well--perhaps fast, and reducing cognition--and
they are conservative in that they impede with doing things
differently. Older generations are well tuned to "affordances", so
well that they may experience difficulties going beyond and
redefining the objects and artifacts to allow new forms of actions,
therefore, to change what something "affords". Children are more
flexible, more inventive, more innovative precisely because the
"affordances" have not yet gotten hold of them--like the disabilities
that capture ever more children in Ray McDermott's phrasing.


On 8-Feb-06, at 10:08 AM, Mike Cole wrote:

Hell Basile-- I think that a lot of people on xmca are interested in the
issue you point

A couple of pointers that may be redundant and a comment.

About a week ago don cunningham argued against using the term
things cultural. I do not agree but there has not been time for us to
discuss to explore
what is at issue, although Don makes some of the issues clear.

Jim Wertsch and Don Norman have both explicity written about qwerty.

Comment in question form. What is an example of a nontechnological tool?

On 2/8/06, basile zimmermann <> wrote:
> Hello,
> I was wondering if someone on the list could help me find information
> on "affordances or cultural constraints 'inside' technological tools,
> based on history and design".
> Things like when an ASCII keyboard is based on the latin alphabet,
> which is inconvenient for writing in Chinese, the issue of 'corrupted'
> French (and other foreign languages) accents in e-mails*, or the fact
> that websites names can only be written in plain English etc.
> Any help really appreciated (I am looking for more
> references/comparisons for my thesis) --thanks very much in advance,
> Basile
> *I actually wrote myself a very short "first-try" article (5 pages) on
> these issues about a year ago. If someone wants to have a look
> email me
> privately and I'll be very glad to send a copy.
> --
> Basile Zimmermann
> Teaching assistant
> Unit of Chinese Studies
> Faculty of Arts
> University of Geneva
> 2, rue de Candolle
> 1211 Geneva 4
> Suisse
> Phone. +41 22 379 72 40
> Fax. +41 22 379 72 81
> E-mail.
> Web.
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