Re: [xmca] technological tools & foreign cultures

From: basile zimmermann (
Date: Thu Feb 09 2006 - 23:58:49 PST

Hi Mike,

I found information about from Aleksandr R. Luria and Lev Vygotsky on
Wikipedia but I would like to read something like what you said when
you wrote about

> constraints are both restricting and enabling.To use a hammer you must
> subordinate yourself to the structure of the hammerat the same time
> that, having subordinated yourself, you are enabled to drive in a
> nail.
> This is why Luria and LSV emphasized that self control arises in
> conjunction with mediated action.

Could you provide a book or a publication directly related to this
question? It is exactly the kind of theoretical content I am looking
for right now.

I have also another question to which I believe you have the answer: my
research focus on the work of electronic musicians in Beijing in
2003-2004. I noticed that the musicians who studied guitar before were
"playing computer" in a very similar way that they were playing guitar
in the past. Same observation for a DJ who used to be a professional
dancer, and was using his body-gesture skills to "dance" with the knobs
while mixing. Myself, having been at the university for many years,
everytime I get a new music software (I do computer music), I first
read the user's manual from cover to cover, and then I start to
compose. Those three examples make be feel there is a strong relation
between 'what people learnt in the past' and 'their attitude toward
technology' when they start using it. I guess it most be a well-known
issue in cognitive sciences?

On Feb 9, 2006, at 8:30 PM, Mike Cole wrote:

> Hi Basile-- You can see that your question is indeed important to
> xmca-ites.
> A.R. Luria was a friend/student of Lev Vygotsky. His autobiography is
> available
> in English through Amazon and is a good introduction to the overall
> problem
> of
> cultural mediation and human development as it has been developed
> within
> what
> I have come to refer to as cultural historical activity theory.
> On 2/9/06, basile zimmermann <>
> wrote:
>> Dear friends,
>> Thanks a lot for the answers, I will have a close look to Tony's
>> article, so far I like the word "physical capital", but I need a
>> second
>> reading, the text is a little difficult for me.
>> - to Mike: I like very much what you wrote. Who are Luria and LSV and
>> this idea that "self control arises in conjunction with mediated
>> action"? I never heard of them, sorry if its a stupid question :-)
>> - For now the Chinese are still, as far as I know, mostly using input
>> in pinyin and converting to characters (and forgetting how to write by
>> hand). Graphic tablets are on the way, but it wasn't mainstream at all
>> last time I was in Beijing (summer 2005)
>> - I am not very good with definitions and terms, especially in
>> English.
>> Im not sure about the word 'affordances', I read it somewhere, and it
>> looked pretty close to what I was observing inside the tools. No
>> equivalent in French either. About 'technological' tools, I was trying
>> to make a difference between a computer and a spoon; 'technological'
>> for "more complicated in terms of number of things -- human decisions
>> buried inside"
>> Basile
>>>> 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,
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