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Re: [xmca] on the learning sciences, constructionism, and technological determinism

thanks, Jenna. The Sharky book has been on my (long) amazon list of books to maybe purchase "later"; your endorsement seals the deal. In the past week I've ordered a half dozen books based on xmca recommendations. Maybe xmca should become an amazon "affiliate"?

As for motivation, there's a book called "Drive" coming out in a few months by a Gore speechwriter, I think, that will synthesize at a popular or maybe undergrad level research findings on motivation that we all know about already (Deci, etc.); but it may be worth getting.

I don't quite buy the historical analysis below. I would bet that the people who made our encyclopedias could have made a lot more money doing other things with their talents.

On Wed, 23 Sep 2009, Jenna McWilliams wrote:

My goodness, how I love the term "constrables." I'm going to start tossing that in to casual conversation and see what happens.

Because several people have asked for the Clay Shirky reference, I'm including it here: The text I'm referring to is Here Comes Everybody, a fantastic book on the social revolution resulting from the mass adoption of new media technologies. Shirky's a professor at NYU and the book is a thrilling read. Among is arguments is one that I think all of the members of this listserv may identify with:

"Life teaches us that motivations other than getting paid aren't enough to add up to serious work. And now we have to unlearn that lesson, because it is less true with each passing year.... The twentieth century, with the spread of radio and television, was the broadcast century. The normal pattern for media was that they were created by a small group of professionals and then delivered to a large group of consumers. But media, in the world's literal sense as the middle layer between people, have always been a three-part affair. People like to consume media, of course, but they also like to produce it ("Look what I made!") and they like to share it ("Look what I found!"). Because we now have media that support both making and sharing, as well as consuming, those capabilities are reappearing, after a century mainly given over to consumption. We are used to a world where little things happen for love and big things happen for money. Love motivates people to bake a cake and money motivates people to make an encyclopedia. Now, though, we can do big things for love."


Jenna McWilliams
Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University

On Sep 23, 2009, at 8:40 PM, Elia Nelson wrote:

the specific nature of the technology "shapes" or "constrains" (not
"detemines", for heaven's sake) behavior in specific ways through the
specific affordances it provides to its user.

I offer a term from my colleagues in Science & Technology Studies: as a
contraction of 'constrains' and 'enables,' we often find ourselves using
'constrables' in this exact context.


Elia J. Nelson, nelsoe3@rpi.edu
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Dept. of Lang., Lit., & Comm.
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Tony Whitson
UD School of Education
NEWARK  DE  19716


"those who fail to reread
 are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                  -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
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