sábado, 29 de septiembre de 2012

NIE2012, Task 6. Theorizing.

Instead of simply making a summary report of this reading, I very candidly tried to put thoughts as they arose, in writing. This below is the transcription as if I could engage in dialog with the authors. I thought, at the end, that the last section was enough and much less ambivalent that the rest of the text. If I could anticipate there was a logical outline and brief of the reading I would have started there and then back to the full text (effort of info. better be heuristic). On to my impressions:
-The reference to anthropology is valid and persuasive; it made me think another discipline could be observed in its developments and also substance: behavioural economics. This, in turn, may help analysing ways in which people assesses information and the way in which processes could be expedited and effectivized.

-Would not this be stated to justify its general applicability instead of as a mean to explain its validity? "Sacks et al. suggested that ethnomethodological work is ‘‘context free, yet context sensitive’’ (quoted in Button and Dourish 1996)."

-Ethnomethodologists themselves have suggested that ethnomethodology has had a limited practical impact on interaction design because of what Button and Dourish called the paradox of technomethodology. BUT OF COURSE! This paradox of Technomethodology affects every science now. There is no point where one could stop and begin theorizing without missing to continue, but this should be again a call to theorists to promote choice in the innovation process as I mentioned before. Options will not be available if we are all embarked in an unstoppable and fast growing pace of development; it is like trusting technology to dictate what is to happen and how we must live our lives, ultimately the main actors in the technology development processes: states as promoters and engineers as enablers, or managers or means themselves. If only Moodle is available to students, then everyone would use it, if it is updated every year it triplifyies teacher´s work and complicates the life of students having to learn a new system and still stay with some courses in the old one while operational. Then if additionally several other developments are imperative, then life will all be about getting technical and keeping up with technological advancements. We would stay in the methodological level forever unless we stop. And somewhat sacrifice being updated, just to handle some tools very well and devote time to their study.
-Theories are already made. The technology is a medium, that adds factors to the social sciences existing methodologies for analysis and theories but in general creating a new discipline seems an entitlement understandable but unnecessary. In addition, it is possible to have theoretical intuitive approaches and realizations (the power of human brain!) without even reading about experiment number one or data and statistical analysis. We are all equipped with reason, that, coupled with talent, devotion and experience (age included) would be quiet enough, I think the science in general the way it is developing has little to do with knowledge and defeats its own purpose. In my fields of interest, there is plenty of apparent ground breaking doctrine that when I read leaves me 100% unimpressed. Reasoning and explanations so banal and obvious. Issues, proposals, assumptions and solutions I have thought about for tens of years already...The theory is needed for theorists. Maturity and experience is needed for practitioners. Nobody is a better parent out of reading manuals. One is a better parent by being a conscious parent: involvement. Being a parent.

-We believe that theoretical frameworks will facilitate productive cooperation between social scientists and software designers. Not only can such approaches help formulate generalizations related to the social aspects of the use of technology and make them more accessible to designers, they can support reflection on how to bring social scientists and software designers closer together, much as cognitive science and computer science found common ground in a shared model.
-Every discipline needs to be sensible to culture, to audience and to sample groups or actors. Principles are always applicable to certain subjects. Nothing new on this! How this makes it any independent? Ethnic methodologies are available long ago, and all sharing the same challenging visions...I still believe that activity theory can borrow or adapt from other theories and use what has already been researched about. Also that a new one is welcome, but not fundamental, because this theory has to be verified, and time has to pass, and then, it could be discussed amongst theorists again, to be able to be simplified for popular application and use. Theory is not to grow in complete detachment from practice. With learning, practice seems more effective.  For me the question is, are these authors suggesting that theory is constitutive rather than declarative? Why only the doctrinal validation would be important for a discipline to flourish and develop?

-Focus of activity theory is on  purposeful, mediated, human social activities. A fundamental insight of the approach is that the understanding and design of technology should be based on analysis of its role and place in activity. The concerns of interaction design can include moral and ethical issues (Friedman 1997), cultural diversity, social implications. I though the same when I was completing the past task.

-Critical analysis (Muller 1999), emotions, feelings, and spirituality (Muller et al. 2001). With its developmental perspective on purposeful mediated actions in a social context, activity theory plausibly addresses the widening purview of interaction design.
More questions:
1. How activity being the object of this theory differs from Conduct (behavioural sciences and law)?  a. What activity? Conduct is a purposeful interaction in law, activity is merely a happening. Is there a need for this differentiation?
b. Maybe because the activity is considered in this context as a source of development for the subject? Well, one could say that experiences are always constructive, people inevitably learn this way.
2. Agency: activity and need to act? This resembles the definition of negotiation. Organic.

-Where to leave the unconscious, Freud and other theories about the way in which we act? Why detaching mind and activity should not be valid? Sometimes we act out of being disciplined enough, regardless of thoughts aims and purposes. Sometimes one can see that exactly in the works of students who merely comply with a task, even reluctantly, but purposefully.

-On the historical influence from the 20s. Well, yes, it affects but I would think the society of proletarians did not really make a claim for theories of this or any other type; this was probably supplied to replace an economic theory that could be associated with “unacceptable” ideologies. That seems plausible, and as much as many other elaborations could have appeared as creative minds can always stretch concepts and turn data into relevant, important object of study. Later we realize that it was after all worthy of revision. If for nothing else, one needs to validate any though. However,
I still see no persuasive reason to believe this is needed when other theories can help well enough. Maybe I need to see the evidence and putting these many words into action, to be used to improve what, by the way: activity or networked activities, or development or the subject and its internal purpose selection mechanisms?

-On the social being: Marxist, and more. This is also inferred from sociology and widely discussed, reflecting on systemic approached to interaction like organizational theory. I wonder why this is studied in isolation, maybe for the reasons mentioned above? To make it ideologically correct and present it as unique in its own context? The social being approach is understood from times immemorial. Greeks already developed the notion (was later formulated in clear statement and legal doctrine by romans) that rules and patterns appear when society if formed and that there was no reason to develop regulatory systems for an individual alone. So it is not really a borrowed idea, It rather seems we all talk about the same phenomena, and arrive to similar conclusions but like to assign to processes distinct taxonomies and terminology to give relevance to the science of our choice. Strangely enough, despite the separatist underlying tone that I perceive in the text, the same says later that the most prominent figure relevant to Activity theory itself considered unification of theory a possibility: “Vygotsky’s ambition was no less than to lay the foundation for a new approach that would allow integration and generalization of psychological knowledge.” Pag. 39.

-Evidence and characteristics of psyche: response: biological (cold chills) and sensitivity, intuition. This is a deep way to tell we need awareness when we propose interactive mechanisms? Is there a psyche to an organization? Need triggered sophistication so adaptability could follow, so can we imply that whatever we do to interact will ultimately work out as people adapt? It could be so! Bu I am no psychologist, it simply seems logical.

-Objectless activities: Sometimes we propose when it is about beautifying or innovating with no purpose. Also what about a drive, an urge such as that of adolescents that act much faster than what they think? I mean if to accept this one would end up saying every activity makes sense because we are rational…

The development of the human mind was a radically new phase in the evolution of the psyche. For animals, mind is an organ of survival; it increases the organism’s fitness regarding its natural environment, just as claws or fur do. Through assuring the survival of the fittest, evolution stimulates the development of mind in animals. But with the emergence of human culture and society, biological evolution ceased to be the main factor in the development of the mind. The survival of an individual living in society depends on economics, politics, and technologies, rather than fitness understood as the body’s ability to adapt to the natural environment. Accordingly, the nature of the human mind is determined not only by biological factors but also by culture and society…”

Leontiev specifically analysed three aspects of culture that have a fundamental impact on the mind: tools, language, and the division of labour. Departing from here, and if to think about the way I conceptualized my activities, where in this explanation the section of wishes (whimsical most of the time) and a sophisticated ethical analysis on whether the realization of my wish would affect others and how positively, would fit? When it relates not to labour, that is, the disassociation between motives and goals as explained in the document (page 59).

-I was glad to identify some elements of my past assignment present on this text, given that my first approach is to determine whether my activity responds to a need or not. Stretching the concept of urges, one can state that everything can turn into a need, be it because one needs to sustain life with it or emotional balance, or else…According to activity theory, the ultimate cause behind human activities is needs (page 60). Also the explanation about activities, actions and operations seem familiar although operations do not necessarily seem to happen improvisedly all of the times, What if people try or train to strategize? I recalled my old lectures on theory of knowledge and logic from first year of law school, too many years ago to mention. They started by describing the relationship between subject and object and the process of appropriation.

-Activity theory holds that the constituents of activity are not fixed but dynamic (page 86). So clear, it could have been just stated as such, no need to wonder around.
So this was all. I wonder if any of my questions will be even discussed by some of you, read, or answered…

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