Archive for October, 2007

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spreading of textual variation (experiment)

October 28, 2007

Anatole Pierre Fuksas invited me to participate in this experiment: Mutating Genre Meme (more likely: ‘ecology of emerging new memes’)

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EXPERIMENT
Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

* You can leave them exactly as is.

* You can delete any one question.

* You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change “The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…” to “The best time travel novel in Westerns is…”, or “The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is…”, or “The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is…”.

* You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form “The best [subgenre] in [genre] is…”.

* You must have at least one question in your set, or you’ve gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you’re not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

My great-grandparent is A Blog Around the Clock.

My grandparent is Belgrad and Beyond.

My parent is The Ecology of the Novel.
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The best abstract painting in european art is:
Black square by Kazimir Malevich

The best mindpushing novel in pseudoethnography is:
The Art of Dreaming by C.Castaneda.

The best psychological film in science fiction is:
Stalker by Andrei Tarkovski.

Passing it to:
Pirkko Hyvonen
George Siemens
Martin Lindner

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R. Dawkins has written: people could view many cultural entities as replicators, generally replicating through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient (though not perfect) copiers of information and behaviour.

Does the information have to be molecular at all? Memes. This is not something that I’ve ever wanted to push as a theory of human culture, but I originally proposed it as a kind of… almost an anti-gene, to make the point that Darwinism requires accurate replicators with phenotypic power, but they don’t necessarily have to be genes.

Memes do not always get copied perfectly, and might indeed become refined, combined or otherwise modified with other ideas, resulting in new memes. These memes may themselves prove more (or less) efficient replicators than their predecessors, thus providing a framework for an hypothesis of cultural evolution, analogous to the theory of biological evolution based on genes.

Wikipedia says: The meme as a unit simply provides a convenient way of discussing “a piece of thought copied from person to person”.

Charles J. Lumsden and Edward Osborne Wilson published a theory of gene/culture co-evolution in the book Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process. They argued that the fundamental biological units of culture must correspond to neuronal networks that function as nodes of semantic memory. Wilson later adopted the term meme as the best existing name for the fundamental unit of cultural inheritance.

Memes spread by the behaviors that they generate in their hosts. Memes have as an important characteristic their propagation through imitation

Memetic drift refers to the process of a meme changing as it replicates between one person to another.
Memetic drift increases when meme transmission occurs with variations.
Generations of hosts pass on these changes in the phenotype. Folk tales and myths often become embellished in the retelling to make them more memorable or more appropriate and therefore more impressed listeners have a greater likelihood of retelling them, complete with accumulating embellishments that may serve to modify human behavior.
Memes can move from one propagation medium to another (more efficient) one.

Very few memes show strong memetic inertia (the characteristic of a meme to manifest in the same way and to have the same impact regardless of who receives or transmits the meme).

Cultures can retain memes that once served a purpose during one epoch or era as vestigial memes.

So basically the meme talk is about spreading neuronal networks that function as nodes of semantic memory through action variables we can observe in behavior, or narrative variables which convey the meme in phenotype? Basically, spreading happens through some viewed action, listened narration or artifact mediation, when ideas were made external, toolisized, embedded to the environment for deliberate spreadout or as a by-product of our own activities.
That is well in line with what i think happens at any of our action – in order to use part of the environment for our actions, we need to make it our own, by toolisizing some of its objects through identifying some of their existence as affording our actions and emotions (basically during the neural processing we internalize ‘part of the objects’ from the environment that we may then name affordances, however if we do so, these affordances may be viewed through our behaved actions, narrations and artifacts by other people evoking similar neural patterns mirroring actions and emotions they see).

Meme is a content or meaning part, while meme propagation happens by decoding the meaning from mediation tools/artifacts?

Anatole thinks that ‘memes’ have to be eventually defined as emergent features instead of units of information residing in the brain. Ramifications of descriptions based on multiple potential affordances of described features are responsible of massive textual variation. Textual plasticity found both in oral and in literary traditions, from papyri to manuscript, from print to digital media supporting shared meaning based on collaboration, corroborate the idea that narratives have to be addressed as emergent features, encoded by means of symbolic systems and referring to perceptual events, actions and emotional correlates.

Do i get it right that in narrated text or written artifact we represent a set of affordances that emerged in action/emotion activation for ourselves (we simultaneously embodied part of objects for ourselves and inevitably embedded these embodied perspectives to in these objects). But if someone picks these perspectives (affordances) up from narrated texts, they will see these embedded perspectives (affordances) as correlates of their own embodied action/emotion of the similar kind. Of course that may not be exactly the same perspective (set of affordances) at all, what they have embodied. So it changes the affordances as they propagate them.

Question is, if meme is more like the meaning, while propagation is more like the action potentiality (affordances), we can imagine that in each person the whole reconstruction of the meaning will take place (like diSessa and Hammer etc. have explained will happen when people build up self-explanations of phenomena) rather than the meaning framework (or meme) was transplanted in them (like there are ideas of Stella Vosiniadou). How will these affordances (that are action/emotion related only?) propagate complicated meanings like some Pythagoras school of thinking?
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Ok..so much of trying to understand the background of the experiment.
It is not so easy to write those following the rule: The best [subgenre] in [genre] is…!
I got in trouble with the genre and medium, especially the medium definition :) – i think the medium is the tool where we have defined its affordances (novel – mindpushing), the thing what we spread via this medium is the emotion, action or meaning. Why i need to define genre and subgenre..for me they feel like affordances and i cannot define them when i want to propagate my action potentials, emotions or meanings what relate with these action potentials. The classification has no sense for me in this case, it is something we humans do as a game – classification. I never saw any need for that to propagate my embedded action potentials and emotions. Maybe? for systematic meaning propagation it has some sense? Donno…

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migrating affordances?

October 26, 2007

MIGRATION AND NARRATION
Brigitte Boenisch-Brednich

Her article from electronic journal Folklore aims to work out the main narrative techniques of “telling migration”. It is based on field studies of people who moved to New Zealand after war. Why i find this article interesting? It picks up some affordances that are more extending, inviting for the newcomer. It demonstrates how people try to shift from one ecology with certain activity potentials and affordances for them, into another align system by drawing comparisons. Very semiotic approach of translating meanings from align framework to the common one by using certain connection points (see Stecconi writings).
It kind of makes me think about possibility of transferring affordances from some mediating tools in one environment into the totally new object in new setting that then becomes the substitute tool.

Can affordances be re-embedded?

Will the connection with the previous tool and its affordances remain embodied in person and will it be evoked simultaneously with the new tool and its affordances for a certain period of time?
It is also interesting how the narratives point to the affordances in the environment and there is also personal justification and evaluation for these affordances.

To the paper:

The approach is to investigate migration from the perspective of focussing on everyday life, an investigation on the basis of personal experiences, such as “work, housing, food, celebrations, social life”. A special focus is set on the analysing of “mental narratives” as key stories, examples, comparatives etc.

In terms of migration experiences there are 3 types of narrative items:
a) Stories about leaving and arriving

The narratives of the very first impressions on New Zealand are vivid and mostly very short. The first impressions, beside taking in the new landscape, were mostly those of the different food, the missing coffee-shops, the Sundays when everything was closed. But sometimes it was pleasurably different.

b) stories about the first year in New Zealand, which are stories about cultural misunderstanding, language problems, homesickness; basically about feeling alien, and being considered alien.

They outline pictures showing very different, often incoherent patterns to the outsider; only the migrant him- or herself can bring it to a pattern which makes sense for him- or herself.

c) there is a form of narratives covering the whole life of a migrant: the narratives of comparing countries and cultures – the culture you come from and the one you are now living in.

The underlying system of all the stories is the overall scheme of constantly comparing countries.In the process of composing points to compare, people create a supposedly objective reality; this enables them to combine argumentation and narration, and to make sense of their world.

*drawing very personal conclusions
Comparing countries can also mean that people are drawing very personal conclusions about their life in both countries.

*justification, push the rational narrative to points of proving their decision was right
A very personal decision is therefore followed by creating individual narratives which underline the direction in which they have sought to change their biographies.
They push the rational narrative to points of proving their decision was right, because they feel right.

*trying to narrate success
maybe 10% per cent of my interviews revealed this slightly problematic pattern of trying to narrate success when you should really be talking about misfortune or failure. The usual way is that a key narrative is used as a personal and symbolic mark5 to give a rationale

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Two Theories of Perception and affordances

October 16, 2007

I found a paper about the differences of constructive and ecological aspects of perception and their interrelations, that was much in line with the theoretical affordance concept how i understand it, consisting of matching of two kind of aspects coming from the environment and from internal goal-directed processing.

These issues also make me think of our discussion with Mauri Kaippainen: he suggested that in Neisser framework the exploration is sort of unconscious scanning that does not involve so much goal-directed mental construction in advance (seems like ecological framework to me), while i thought that after a while this scanning as a spiral activity will be more and more conscious (seems like constructive framework to me). Also i suggested that sometimes we start exploration by shifting some internal imagination to the external environment, actualizing some aspects there – this again seems like constructive perception to me, where schemata must be internally processed in order to perceive something in the environment.

Joel Norman:Two Visual Systems and Two Theories of Perception: An Attempt to Reconcile the Constructivist and Ecological Approaches

Norman, J. (2002). Two Visual Systems and Two Theories of Perception: An Attempt to Reconcile the Constructivist and Ecological Approaches
. Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2002), 25:1:73-96 Cambridge University Press.

According to Joel Norman (2000) the constructivist and ecological theories of perception differ, however, he claims that there is certain continuum rather than dichotomy between approaches. Both approaches to perception, the ecological and the constructivist, are valid descriptions of perception, but of different aspects of perception.

Comparison of two theories to perception:

1. Mental processes to pick up information or not
The constructivists see the stimulation reaching our senses as inherently insufficient necessitating an “intelligent” perceptual system that relies on inferential types of mechanisms to overcome this inherent equivocality of stimulation.
The ecologically oriented theorists argue that the information in the ambient environment suffices and is not equivocal and thus no “mental processes” are needed to enable the pick up of the relevant information.

2. Direct or indirect perception
The constructivists see perception as multistage with mediational processes intervening between stimulation and percept, i.e., perception is indirect.
The ecological theorists see perception as a single-stage process, i.e., it is direct and immediate.

3. Relying on stored information
For the constructivists, memory, stored schemata, and past experience play an important role in perception.
The ecologically oriented approach sees no role for memory and related phenomena in perception.

4. Process versus stimulation
The constructivists excel at analyzing the processes and mechanisms underlying perception.
The ecological approach excels at the analysis of the stimulation reaching the observer.

Milner and Goodale (1995): the ventral stream transforms visual information into an exocentric (also labeled “allocentric”) framework allowing the perception of the object as it relates to the visual world. The dorsal system, on the other hand, transforms visual information into an egocentric framework allowing the actor to grasp or otherwise bodily manipulate the object.

Norman (2000) suggests that if it is true that the two systems function independently and that the dorsal system functions can be carried out with little or no conscious awareness, it is possible that the two systems will be capable of simultaneously processing two different sources of visual information with very little interference.

The primary function of the ventral system is the recognition and identification of the visual input. Recognition and identification must depend on some comparison with some stored representation. In contrast, the primary function of the dorsal system is analysis of the visual input in order to allow visually guided behavior vis-à-vis the environment and objects in it (e.g., pointing, reaching, grasping, walking towards or through, climbing, etc.).

The ventral system is superior at seeing fine details, while the dorsal system is better at seeing motion.

The ventral system is the memory-based system, utilizing stored representations to recognize and identify objects and events. In contrast the dorsal system appears not to have a long-term storage of information, but only very short-term storage allowing the execution of the motor behavior in question.

The dorsal system is the faster.
We are much more conscious of ventral system functioning and hardly conscious of dorsal system functioning.

Ventral system functions aim at recognizing and identifying the object and for this purpose all that is needed is object-centered information. In contrast, the dorsal system must perform some action on, or in relation to, the object, such as grasping it. For this purpose the dorsal system must utilize egocentric frame of reference. In order to be able to pick up the object the dorsal system must utilize absolute metrics, while functions of the ventral system only require relative metrics.

Broader theory of perception is based on the accumulating research findings that point to the existence of two visual systems, the dorsal and the ventral. It was suggested that the ecological approach broadly parallels the functions of the dorsal system, and the constructivist approach broadly parallels that of the ventral system. These two visual systems deal with different aspects of perception. The dorsal system deals mainly with the utilization of visual information for the guidance of behavior in one’s environment. The ventral system deals mainly with the utilization of visual information for “knowing” one’s environment, i.e., identifying and recognizing items previously encountered and storing new visual information for later encounters. But it should be stressed that both systems overlap in the functions they perform.

This last thing is interesting, if to think of the role of perception in determining affordances from the environment in one hand, and affordances of the anticipated activity in another hand, which must be coupled.

Iaccoboni’s studies about mirror neuron function divergence seem to support Norman’s assumptions.

Iaccoboni: canonical neurons seem to be coding the affordance of an object, the pragmatic aspect of how-to-grab-that-thing, rather than its semantic content; mirror neurons do not fire at the sight of an object but will fire at the sight of a whole action. Mirror neurons have auditory access and they enable a multimodal representation of action that is not linked to
the visual channel only.

Ecological approach
Dorsal system: utilization of visual information for the guidance of behavior in one’s environment
– seeing motion
– utilize egocentric frame of reference (i grasp an apple)
Canonical neurons: seem to be coding the affordance of an object, the pragmatic aspect of how-to-grab-that-thing, rather than its semantic content

Constructivist approach
Ventral system:utilization of visual information for “knowing” one’s environment, i.e., identifying and recognizing items previously encountered and storing new visual information for later encounters
– seeing fine details
– recognition and identification of the visual input
Mirror neurons: fire at the sight of a whole action

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Decision support tool in action

October 16, 2007

On saturday we tested iCamp Folio with the group of learners. They had to think of the affordances they need in self-directed action. Next they could move the sliders to switch in some of the affordances. If profile was saved, they could see which tools have the needed affordances, and who of the learners has similar profile.

folio

We also talked with Mauri Kaippainen, that there is an advancement of this software already, that fixes the most suitable selection of tools and users to the upper right corner area. So the whole area of the tool becomes more meaningful. We still need to implement it though in iCamp Folio.

Our ECTEL 07 presentation of the folio.

Theoretical Framework of the iCampFolio – New Approach to Evaluation and Comparison of Systems and Tools for Learning Purposes, Terje Väljataga, Mart Laanpere, Kai Pata, Mauri Kaipainen

Mart suggested yesterday that FOAF could be used to get learner’s expected activity affordances and their tool preferences on the basis of affordances together.

The Friend of a Friend (FOAF) project is creating a Web of machine-readable pages describing people, the links between them and the things they create and do.

This idea is interesting, and goes close to our thinking of activity system components interaction when people define their learning landscape affordance-based.

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Mapping Hybrid Ecology ideas rev.1

October 12, 2007

Since we are thinking to start some really interesting brainstorming session about Hybrid Ecologies in augmented reality in Tallinn I started some ideamapping of certain thoughts.

hybridecology

Several community-activities with new technologies can be built upon the relationships between real spaces/objects, people and meanings:
Space with dynamically embedded meanings (eg. spoken narratives, movement) entails action potentials. The embodiment of these action potentials is a process of coupling affordances evoked by internal imagination and goals in one hand, and the perceived and culturally predefined external affordances from the environment, on the other hand. As a result, this space becomes into a place for new interpretors and starts triggering activities. Activities in places are mediated by cognitive tools (eg. language) or physical tools (eg. body movement).

Space geotagged with meanings as media artifacts (eg. textual narratives or images), which were embedded by ICT tools (mobiles, computers, pdas) or manually (etc. graffit, signs) entails action potentials. This space becomes into an augmented place for real and virtual activities (eg. blogging geotagged itinerary). These activities may be simulatneously mediated by cognitive tools (eg. language) or body (eg. movement) and ICT tools (mobiles, computers, pdas) with interfaces (?) (eg. social software like Flickr, Youtube etc.).

Activities in augmented reality are hybrid – interfaces may theatrialize certain action potentials between real and virtual sides of the realm, intentionally activated internal action potentials may be embedded through virtual interfaces to the spaces toolisizing them.

The thoughts, what might be interesting to study, are still to be elaborated. But i believe in to the interplay between three groups: actors, activity patterns and meanings in augmented places, thus, determining interesting ecosystems.

HYBRID ECOLOGY STUDY

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Here is the initial seed from Anatole Pierre Fuksas:

Storytelling and Hybrid Ecologies in the Age of Social Networking and Locative Media

Philology and criticism usually apply to literary works that have been written and published or literary systems as actual genres. That is, literary studies generally focus on past or present state of the art but they hardly offer predictions, prefiguring forms that will play a role into the future development of cultural landscapes. Making a remarkable exception in respect to the norm, the present contribution aims to forecast potential development in storytelling based on locative media. That is, as part of a more general inquiry on the Ecology of the Novel, it will investigate potential literary applications based on Global Positioning System (GPS), Geographic Information System (GIS) or similar geotagging standards.

In a few years narrative artists and storytellers’ communities will very likely write or tape stories that will be broadcasted by locative media mining 2.0 websites for contents to delievered by Location-based media on GPS or GIS enabled portable wireless devices. Textual narratives as podcasted stories will will invade laptop computers and mobile phones, providing readers and listeners with pertinent references or analogical interferences aimed to enriching natural environments. Presences triggered by the mirror matching of references entailed by symbolically encoded narratives, both in audio and written text formats, will infest urban and rural environments, forests and deserts, islands and hills, mountains and beaches, enhance the sensory experience of perceived landscapes.

So, questions arise. What formats may be forecasted as the standards ones when it will come to the implementation of socially shared narrative art with locative tagging? Will these new narrative standards reshape interactions between subjects and environments? Will coded and shared hybridation based on narrative contents reshape perception of landscapes? Moreover, while providing a permanently operative level of interaction between narrative contents and natural environments, will geotagged stories play crucial role in the literary system? Will eventually the novel be doomed to extintion because of the rise of socially-networked locative narratives? Rather, will the novel outlast this technological revolution too?

See Storied navigation from MIT medialab
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i had a talk yesterday aslo with Mauri Kaippainen. He showed me some interesting thoughts where he used Neisser’s framework for describing the situation in hybrid systems.

neisser collaborative

http://www.slideshare.net/M3.thevirtual/kaipainen-normak-niglas-kippar

It is notable that Neisser (1994) elaborated Gibson‘s concept of affordance and distinguished three perceptual modes:
– Direct perception/action, which enables us to perceive and act effectively on the local environment;
– Interpersonal perception/reactivity, which underlies our immediate social interactions with other human beings, and;
– Representation/recognition, by which we identify and respond appropriately to familiar objects and situations.

We discussed what the exploration would entail, and can the participants of the community directly view each others’ exploration or is it mediated through the narrative/visual meanings as emergent patterns in the interface.

For me the ‘object’ on the figure is too general, and it does not separate the real objects in the environment and the ‘meanings’ that are tagged to the object. On my opinion these need to be looked together but also as separate things.

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My talk with Anatole:

A:If I get you right, you maintain that interaction with objects imply externalization of feelings, emotions, whatever, and the so called meaning the performer attach to the object while perceiving or affording it is somewhat transmitted to the object, that changes into a tool the performer uses to cope with the environment.

K: I assume that i may have internally an emotion or intention (i refer to the meanings or intentions that are initiated inside me as novel, creative), which i cannot express or do without the use of mediation to the external world (to someone certain, to someone abstract). Thus, i must embed this emotion or this action potential to the environment picking something, an object in the environment, or creating an object that didnt exist and attaching my action potentials or emotional cues to this object so that it will become into a tool that helps me to express this emotion/do this action, or to leave this emotion/this action potentiality as an invitation to the environment. This gives the objects i use as mediators a dimension where they become tools. But at the same time they don’t cease to be objects in another dimension.
My understanding is based on the emboding of objects by means of potential or actual affordances.

My understanding involves also the embodiment. I see it as shifting something that is initially left in the environment to some object by someone internal in order to evoke emotions or trigger actions. I cannot use any tools (that the environmental objects with affordances i perceive) are without partly embodying them, extracting something from the object (this something i see as the perspective with affordances), imagining it, initiating some neural processes that lead to my emotions and actions, and then i am able of using this object as a tool to perform action.

When i have used some tool earlier, later this embodied feeling of using the tool with the affordances can serve instead of tool.

Then there is also a possiblity, that i don’t do this embodiment directly by touching the things, but i may observe the others doing it/talking of it.
Or i may read the others having used it. In the last case i somewhat create imaginary tool with affordances, which serves as real tool for triggering my actions and i can use the imaginary tool and do what i wanted to do. (eg. i imagine streets to know where to go, and i can explain it also by using this imagined tool)

A: So, human anatomy is crucial as the shape of the object is and certainly Human phisiology is perturbated by affordances, hence performers can feel like affording a book just by thinking of it or talking about it (mirror neurons etc…).

K: yes..human anatomy and perceptional organs?

A: Now, the actual affordance of an object …

K: i dont believe the object has an actual affordance, it may have many affordance perspectives only due to different actors who have embedded/omitted some of their emotions/action potentials to the object

A:… may turbate the status of the afforded object and the change makes sense to me in terms it determines subsequently different assessment of the landscape it belongs to.

K: i cannot understand word turbate
since i disagree the first part it is hard to get the point of second part

A: I’d redefine the idea of externalizing feelings by actually affording objects in different terms.

K: yes, exactly – omitting internal affordances which we imagine as necessary prerequisties for actions/emotions to the objects in external world.
However i also believe it is kind of coupling process. The objects due to our perception, earier experiences, cultural background, embodied action potentials of these objects will always sort of extend some properties to us, that makes us to pick these objects, feel as if there are paired affordances for our action. So for me at both sides there is matching between imagined affordances.
Is it the same what you think with previous sentence of turbating?

A: That is I’d say goal planned actions so to be defined as purposeful and planned at all have to entail emotional correlates (Bechara and Damasio’s studies I quoted and I attach, one of them I have in paper, so send you the reference and another one I just got the abstract).

K: logically this sentence is not argumented here. But in principle i believe they come as pairs.

A: So, emotions are not externalized, they are simply part of the decision making process…

K: there are some emotions that precede any intentions, and there are some emotions that procede intentions or are simultaneous with emotions

A:… that is they are crucial and completely embedded into the action planning strategy.

K: at least two last versions of emotions are
but some emotions exist per se, not because of intentions
creative emotions often have no goal but emotion

A: To a certain extent, perception triggers action potential and emotional correlates at the same time.

K: i agree

A: So, in order to ‘get’ the emotion driving somebody else into, say, leaving a book into a bookshop, you may be able to decode it from CLUES he left WHILE interacting with the object, that is handling, manually affording it.

K: Yes i believe you attach the emotional potentials to the tools when you actually embed the affordances of action.
But for pure emotion to evoke emotion, do you need the action/goal things in between or can you also embed to some objects, afford pure emotion?

A: Dunno if this fixes the point and sets us on the same page, but I think it may help you with your externalizing struggle

K: for me we are at the same ground, the question was more in my use of words: embedd, externalise, omit, embody is somewhat nice word for himans to take something as part of their body parts, but for me actors and objects do not feel that different. For example trees feel me same as humans. Or stones. Or houses. Or water. So i could somewhat imagine they have some goal-directed embodiment as well.

For example there are studies in the north how trees transmit fear. Or there are many studies of water having structural kind of memory. If to think a bit more open way further, you can see my struggle with embodiment isnt so simple.

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