In the search of activity space revised

December 16, 2006

Last week we had several discussions in Vienna with different iCamp project workpackages people. Activity space with its different dimensions has been thought to serve as a fruitful model for describing what would happen in the learning space built up from different learning management systems and social software, inhabited by people interested of social networking, collaboration and self-directed learning. Some ideas how to describe activity space and its parts:

If anyone aims to realise these learning challenges the suitable medium for this is formed from LMS systems augumeted with web 2.0 possibilities.
This could be illustrated with the simple triangle figure of Leontjev (1975/78).

people web 2.0 challenges

The challenges meet people.
The challenges change the medium of web 2.0.
Challenges can be realised through this medium.
web 2.0 medium changes people as well and they see new challenges.

Web 2.0 together with other learning management systems and real worl learning spaces build up one dimension of the activity space. This might be called physical space or virtual space or even augmented space. I would use the term physical dimension until something more accurate comes to my mind.
This physical dimension does not make up the activity space. It is just one dimension of it.
But physical space evokes challenges and contrains behaviours what people could do to meet the challenges.

As soon as we have someone with challenges entering to this physical dimension, two other dimensions of the activity space would emerge. Challenges evoke activities in the physical dimension and create the meaning dimension where the challenges are externalised as theoretical constructions. The nature of physical dimension is distributed and it is necessary to regulate that our actions in the physical dimension were in accordance with what we do in the meaning dimension.

Activity space involves three dimensions: physical dimenison, meaning dimension and regulation dimension. But it would be wrong of picturing them as layers or planes because the meaning and regulation dimension “fill” the physical dimension.
We could trace the two spaces in the form of activity flows criss-crossing the physical dimension between the distributed tools or spots in the net when people try to realise their challenges.

Could we picture the activity space by social networking? Maybe partly, if any subject connecting with another subject or their meaning artifacts externalised with certain software (physical dimension) would be traced and visualised as activity flows.

Activity space modelled like this would be dynamically changing as different activity flows go within one or several web 2.0 software.

The earlier model what i developed from Engeström activity system idea visualises three kinds of dimensions for actions: manipulable actions, communicative regulatory actions and communicative content-generation actions.
The meaning dimension might be related with the lower striped area of the model that unites meanings what we create communicatively and those that we write down as artifacts or use during meaning-creation.
The regulatory dimension fills all the space when people explain what they plan to do to realise their challenges or review what they did, how the meanings changed and what actions they took to realise meanings.
The previous model should be semitransparent to visualise it behind the manipulative action and meaning spaces. The manipulative actions what we perform in physical dimension shouldnt be separated into a plane but they also fill in the system. One can hardly perform any actions in meaning space or regulatory space without performing some actions what i categorise as manipulable (e.g. publish, search, delete, reorganise, add etc.).

Distributed activity space


One comment

  1. From N.Nova paper

    “Space is the opportunity; place is the understood reality” (Harrison and Dourish, 1996). Their definition is “a place which is invested with understandings of behavioral appropriateness, cultural expectations, and so forth. We are located in space but we act in place” (Harrison and Dourish, 1996). Erickson (1993) sums up this by stating that “Place is Space with Meaning”. By building up a history of experiences, space becomes a “place” and then its significance and utility is put forward. Harrison and Dourish go on and states that place is a medium for significant actions: place affords a kind of activity. Erickson (1993) claims that spatial constraints can generate activity

    Erickson, T. (1993). From Interface to Interplace: The Spatial Environment as a Medium for Interaction. Published in the Proceedings of Conference on Spatial Information Theory, 1993

    Harrison, S. & Dourish, P. (1996): Re-Place-ing Space: The Roles of Place and Space in Collaborative Systems. In Proceedings of Computer Supported Collaborative Work 1996, Cambridge MA, ACM Press, 67-76.

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