Re: [xmca] double-stimulation method

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane <ana who-is-at>
Date: Thu Oct 09 2008 - 15:13:41 PDT

Dear Steve and all,

Just a quick response regarding complexes in adults -- or
pseudoconcepts, if you wish.
Complexes, especially pseudoconcepts, are "held together" by the
pragmatic use of words without a completely clear and fully critically
applied logical (taxonomical) system. Many exist in everyday language.
For instance, the culinary use of "fruit", "vegetables" and "nuts"
would include tomatoes into "vegetables" (to test this just think of a
fruit salad made of tomatoes!!!), It would also include potatoes into
vegetables and peanuts into nuts (although strictly speaking potatoes
and peanuts are both part of the rhizomes (scientific concepts).
Another good example of complexes are various "collections" like
"furniture" and "clothes". Although possible to define them
conceptually, they are notoriously used as collections -- the
principle of grouping them is to put together various different pieces
(chairs, tables, rugs, lamps, sofas etc) because they "go together"
better than "all chairs" or "all tables" -- So when describing
"furniture in someone's house" you may talk about relationships and
looks of different pieces and how they go together -- but not simply
of inclusive classes. (Same argument for "clothes".

All of these, obviously can be defined in strictly conceptual sense --
but they are not very useful in everyday life as concepts -- they
figure more often as complexes. You can test that, again by seeing
that they have fuzzy borders, they are not completely inclusive/
exclusive -- the criterion is more a pragmatic one (usage, habit) than
it is conceptual. Just think of various fashion styles and how each
brings something that may have not been considered a clothing item
before (or after) -- (string? net? sheet? etc); or again, think of
furniture and imagine how virtually ANYTHING can be or become a piece
of furniture.

However, one drawback that I see with this kind of analysis is that it
still tries to construct units of meaning with two cardinal flaws.
First, it is identifying a unit of meaning with the unit of a coding
system (word, sentence, utterance), and second, it is trying to
determine a non-relational and decontextualized structure of meaning.
But that is another story - beter discussed under the PoTAYto-PoTAHto
thread (is this now a metaphor? and why not?).


Dr. Ana Marjanovic-Shane

On Oct 9, 2008, at 9:48 AM, Steve Gabosch wrote:

> A light just went on for me. In the factory environment I was in,
> because many operators were doing similar things and processes on
> similar machines, it was possible to compare individual work styles
> and approaches. For a number of years fairly inexperienced mill
> operators were being transferred into my spar mill shop, and they
> had to learn the skills and methods of the job over some years, so
> that added still another aspect that could be compared (and let me
> tell you, that was a common activity, especially by the next shift!).
> Here is a distinction between the pseudoconcept and concept as Paula
> describes Bacalarski:
>> most users, compared to experts, are at the pseudoconceptual level,
>> and that time
>> and further developments are required before users achieve
>> 'adulthood' as
>> computer-literate users.
> This may have a way to apply the concept of then pseudo-concept to a
> factory, or any workplace. A key characteristic I saw over and
> over among many mill operators in their initial years (some had a
> learning curve that was longer that others depending on background,
> and sometimes mechanical "talent" (whatever exactly that is) -
> including myself in my first years there - were following rules
> without fully understanding the consequences of each action they
> undertook. The experienced operators who reached 'adulthood' were
> far more conscious of all the things that were happening and would
> result from their actions, such as how machining a part might make
> the part shift in the clamping system. This in turn would drive how
> and when to check for that, and how to readjust the part's
> position. The newer operators would learn about these movements and
> memorize what they should do - "hammer the part with the rubber
> mallet on the web side to get the part to renest at the end of
> sequence 2000" might be a way the rule would be articulated.
> Sometimes a note would be made to this effect in the program
> document, an important booklet of the programmed machine moves for
> that job. But if some little change in the process that might make a
> difference in the way the part shifts comes up - perhaps a change to
> a different order of cutting directions - the tendency would be to
> just follow the same rule without looking at what might be
> different. A consequence of this might be "undercutting" the part
> in the next sequence - taking off too much material because the part
> has shifted toward the cutter.
> Another example is connected to an oddity in the controls that is a
> kind of booby trap. If the machine is in auto mode (ready to run
> programs), turning the cutters on with the cutter start button would
> turn them either clockwise or counterclockwise according to the past
> programmed instruction, but when the machine was in manual mode,
> using the cutter start button would turn the cutters on the in the
> direction the manual switches were set to. A cutter trying to cut a
> part spinning in the wrong direction will scrap the $5,000 - $10,000
> part and could wreck the cutter and knock the spindles out of
> alignment, all big headaches. Well, this happened to J. because he
> had turned his cutters on manually while in manual mode, then
> switched to auto and proceeded. The switches were backward from the
> correct rotation and he entered with the cutters running backwards
> and hell broke loose. He followed the rule about turning the
> cutters on before you cut - that is another surefire way to cause a
> lot of damage, probably worse than even running the cutters
> backwards - but he forgot to look at the consequences of his action
> - watch how the cutters actually spun as they turned on. He did not
> know the manual mode had that booby trap, and he was sure that the
> cutters had no choice but to turn in the programmed direction, so it
> didn't occur to him to watch the cutters start up. Experienced
> operators will always watch the cutter direction when they are
> turned on - they know you can't trust them to alway turn the right
> way. It is also a good way to check if the right cutters have been
> loaded. This incident happened to J. years ago. The reason I
> remember it is that he still maintains to this day that since he did
> not know about that manual mode switch position quirk, it wasn't his
> fault.
> I guess that could be considered fossilizing a pseudo-concept.
> How's that for a turn of phrase? (Btw, J. got written up, which was
> unjust, as that kind of discipline often is).
> In a nutshell, the inexperienced operator, who perhaps is operating
> with pseudo-concepts (I will have to try to think of examples of
> complexes, that seems hard with adults - perhaps examples where they
> don't know what they are doing but fumble around and act anyway?),
> is focusing on following procedures and rules, whereas the
> experienced operator who has a full conception of causes and effects
> and knowledge about when to make observations and adjustments is
> following the rules and procedures AND focusing on the consequences
> of every action, both immediate and later on. Normally, the
> pseudoconcepter looks like they are doing the same thing, but when
> little changes that make a difference are introduced, the
> differences with the experienced operators regarding how they think
> are revealed. To bring this back round to the theme of this thread,
> perhaps the knowledge and experience with the consequences of their
> actions by the experienced operators would qualify as auxiliary
> stimuli, which the inexperienced operators lack, bringing into play
> the concept of dual stimulation as an explanation.
> - Steve
> On Oct 9, 2008, at 4:38 AM, Paula Towsey wrote:
>> I came across several studies dealing with adult cognition and
>> 'Vygotsky's
>> complex framework', as you so aptly term it, Eric, when I was
>> compiling my
>> literature survey. Of these three, I found Vaughan's and Tuomi's
>> to be the
>> most fascinating.
>> The 1980 studies include a remarkable paper entitled "Saussure and
>> Vygotsky
>> via Marx", where Genevieve Vaughan (1980/81) draws comparisons
>> between the
>> langue and the parole of a linguistic system with that of an
>> economic one.
>> She brings together meaning, money, labour, and culture, and
>> provides an
>> insightful discourse of Vygotsky's framework on conceptual
>> development which
>> covers the langue of four 'mutually exclusive signifiers' and the
>> parole of
>> coming to understand what certain culturally significant and relevant
>> concepts mean. She also is of the opinion that two processes of
>> polarisation are required for concept formation, where the first is
>> between
>> the sample as an equivalent and the other blocks as relative, and
>> where the
>> second is between the relevant and the non-relevant characteristics
>> of the
>> sample as well as those of the other blocks.
>> Vaughan, G., (1980/81), Saussure and Vygotsky via Marx. First
>> published in
>> Ars Semeiotica 4:1 57-83. Amsterdam: C John Benjamins B.V. (My copy
>> downloaded 2006/02/21 11:25 AM.)
>> In the 1990s, several studies - Bacalarski (1996) and Tuomi (1998)
>> - analyse
>> or adapt the method of double stimulation to computer environments.
>> Bacalarksi's tentative analysis looks at how novice users become
>> more adept
>> at using and understanding computers and she uses Vygotsky's
>> findings on the
>> paths to conceptual thinking for this analysis. She maintains that
>> most
>> users, compared to experts, are at the pseudoconceptual level, and
>> that time
>> and further developments are required before users achieve
>> 'adulthood' as
>> computer-literate users. Tuomi's paper is about an adaptation of
>> the method
>> of double stimulation in collaborative environments in the setting
>> of a
>> large mobile telephone manufacturer, and concludes that Vygotsky's
>> theoretical framework provides better explanations for both
>> individual and
>> collaborative learning in corporate enterprises than do other kinds
>> of
>> models.
>> Tuomi, I., (1998), Vygotsky in a TeamRoom: An exploratory study on
>> collective concept formation in electronic environments, Nokia Group,
>> Finland: Nokia Research Center.
>> Bacalarski, M., (1996), Vygotsky's Developmental Theories and the
>> Adulthood
>> of Computer-mediated Communication: A Comparison and an Illumination,
>> Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 34:1 57-63.
>> Armonk, NY: M.
>> E. Sharpe.
>> Let me know if you need more info to track these down, okay?
>> Bye for now
>> Paula
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: [mailto:xmca-
>>] On
>> Behalf Of
>> Sent: 08 October 2008 09:03 PM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] double-stimulation method
>> Hello Steve, welcome to the discussion. My best answer to that
>> question
>> would be to look at Sylvia Scribner's work study research that is
>> available
>> on the LCHS website. I believe you will find it imbedded in the LCHC
>> newsletter. It is fascinating stuff. Of course the brilliant
>> cross-cultural research of Dr. Michael Cole could also illicit
>> quite a
>> boatload of info. The rub is that neither Scribner or Cole used
>> Vygotsky's
>> complex framework for summarizing their work. Perhaps that makes
>> it a
>> nonfactor?
>> eric
>> Steve Gabosch
>> <stevegabosch@me To: "eXtended Mind,
>> Culture, Activity" <>
>> .com> cc:
>> Sent by: Subject: Re: [xmca]
>> double-stimulation method
>> xmca-bounces@web
>> 10/08/2008 01:24
>> PM
>> Please respond
>> to "eXtended
>> Mind, Culture,
>> Activity"
>> Eric, Paula, others,
>> Vygotsky's idea of complexive thinking in adults greatly interests
>> me. What has been done so far with this in theory and research?
>> - Steve
>> On Oct 8, 2008, at 11:06 AM, wrote:
>>> Hello Paula:
>>> This is the aspect of your post that I would like to focus on:
>>> 4. providing a snapshot of a 'complex'
>>> Yes, they - the blocks - do. What is sometimes a bit difficult for
>>> me to
>>> impart to colleagues who haven't worked with the blocks is that
>>> reading
>>> about them, and then conducting an exercise with them, are very
>>> (very)
>>> different experiences. I suspect this to be true of most research
>>> instruments - the thing about the blocks, though, is that the
>>> solution is
>>> deceptively simple - especially when you have found out what it is
>>> by
>>> reading about it. In fact, this element - trying to keep the actual
>>> solution a secret - got me into trouble in one of my first
>>> submissions to a
>>> major publication - precisely because I was hoping there would be
>>> some
>>> readers out there who wouldn't want to be told the whodunit - but
>>> would
>>> prefer to work it out for themselves.
>>> But, to return to the 'snapshot', as you can see from my comments in
>>> point
>>> number three, a snapshot of complexes is gained - sometimes there
>>> are
>>> combinations of them and what makes lots of the analysis really
>>> challenging
>>> is working out what is developmental, what is complexive in adults,
>>> and
>>> what
>>> is idiosyncratic in everyone. Does this make sense, Eric?
>>> Once again the idea of complexive thinking provides a structure that
>>> is
>>> flexible. Problem solving at any age can bounce from syncretic to
>>> diffuse
>>> to statistical to matching to chains and finally to conceptual. The
>>> measure of what constitutes conceptual thinking, in my humble
>>> opinion, lies
>>> with the word being the unit of analysis. The beauty of Vygotsky's
>>> complexes is that he states them as methods of achieving activities
>>> and not
>>> as stages of development that build upon each other. A person at
>>> any age
>>> may illicit any of the complexes by themselves or in unison with
>>> another
>>> complex. I believe what needs to be sorted out is what cultural
>>> structures
>>> illicit what complexes and what cultural and historical methods best
>>> contribute to conceptual thinking. David Kellogg was correct when
>>> he
>>> stated that the Japanese powerhouse of elementary education should
>>> certainly be studied in depth to hopefully answer these questions.
>>> eric
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
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