Archive for the ‘activity space’ Category


interrelated affordance dimensions as systems

November 4, 2010

I am preparing the virtual lecture “Ecology of learning with new media tools” for the master of semiotics program in Helsinki University for the course “Semiotics and media, sciences and technology studies”.

I was looking one article that was inspired by the Lakoff’s book “Metaphors we live bye”.
It assumes that we live by metaphors that actually structure our perceptions and understanding

Our conceptual system, thus, plays a central role in defining our everyday realities. If we are right in suggesting that our conceptual system is largely metaphorical, then the way we thinks what we experience, and what we do every day is very much a matter of metaphor.

Interesting in this paper is the assumption that metaphorical concepts that we use form a system.

TIME IS MONEY, TIME IS A LIMITED RESOURCE, and TIME IS A VALUABLE COMMODITY are all metaphorical concepts. They are metaphorical since we are using our everyday experiences with money, limited resources, and valuable commodities to conceptualize time. This isn’t a necessary way for human beings to conceptualize time; it is tied to our culture. There are cultures where time is none of these things.

I started to think if there exists also the personal system within the affordances that we potentially actualize in interaction with the world.

My idea seems not to be exactly the same as affordance network idea conceived by Barab and Roth (2006). Particularly it is elaborating this part where environmental knowledge is used.

Barab and Roth (2006) have noted that connecting learners to ecological networks, where they can learn through engaged participation, activates the affordance networks.
Barab and Roth (2006) assumed that affordance networks are not read onto the world, but instead continually “transact” (are coupled) with the world as part of a perception-action cycle in which each new action potentially expands or contracts one’s affordance network.

Basically i think that:
a) if affordances are our perspectives, the positions that we take in the moment of action/emotion in the multidimensional geo-conceptual hybrid space consisting of conceptual dimensions and geographic dimensions (Pata, 2010; Normak, Pata, Kaipainen, forthcoming), then

b) there exists the personal spatial area within geo-conceptual hybrid space that is frequently defined by these positions
This personal spatial area (a cognitive niche) is simultaneously activated internally and externally as the cognitive distributed space during the cognitive chance-seeking (Bardone, 2010), and people are always “validating” the effectiveness of this space for affording their actions and emotions.

c) and within this personal space WE CAN FIND CONSISTENCY of what dimensions of the space are incorporated into certain affordances as personal perspectives useful for certain action or emotion

d) The accumulation of individual positions within this space (to the geographical and virtual object world and to the interpersonal relational actions) contribute to the formation of the cultural spaces – the niches within geo-conceptual hybrid space.
So some of the affordances are offloaded to the objects which are spatially located, some affordances are run dynamically in the awareness of the persons who are interacting and keeping awareness of bodily and emotional activations of each other and with the object world.

We may have several of such taskspaces.
Taskspace is an array of activities related to a certain environment (Ingold, 2000). A taskspace fosters a range of affordances of an environment, delimiting some and enabling others (Edensor, 2004).

e) Cultural niches within geo-conceptual hybrid space are used by individuals for spatial navigation while they select the positions in their own spaces (basically cultural niches can prompt or inhibit some dimensions that the person can use in the geo-conceptual hybrid space for actualizing affordances.

(dataset and image from Pata, 2009)

Image indicates the community perception of affordances for using an aggregator tool.

Part of the problem is how effectiveness of taking action or having emotion is evaluated by each individual in respect to the community niche, and how such effectiveness may be accumulated to the niche.

If the (geo)tags used for defining some conceptual artifacts are interpreted as the dimensions of the geo-conceptual space (for example if we look blog posts, or bookmarks), there exist some dimensions that are the root- or central dimensions, and other dimensions are additional dimensions.

The pictures of tag-networks allow us to see the “hubs” (root-dimensions) in this multidimensional space.

Here is the affordance dimension network based on my dataset (Pata, 2009a,b). I have used the Bayesian networking tool for finding the best fitting causal model for collaborative activity taskspace with social software tools.

From the previous spatial dimension figure we can see that monitoring is the most frequently perceived affordance of the aggregator. The other affordances frequently perceived while using aggregator are: filtering and mashing; collecting; reading; and evaluating.

We may assume that in the collaborative activity taskspace with different types of social software tools, the monitoring affordance in general is related with searching and evaluating and reading.
The arrow to reading indicates causality that actualizing monitoring affordance allows in turn reading affordance.

Following the same idea of spatial re-location while taking action and having emotion, Lackoff said about conceptual metaphors that Another functionality for metaphors is orientation in space.

I’m feeling up. That boosted my spirits. My spirits rose. you’re in high spirits. Thinking about her always gives me a lift. I’m feeling down. I’m depressed. He’s really low these days. I fell into a depression. My spirits sank.

Lakoff and Núñez suggest that conceptual metaphors form network of bodily grounded entities with inferential organization.

In his book “Philosophy in the Flesh : The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought” Lakoff and Johnson (1999) conceptualized living by metaphors using the embodied mind idea.

“our bodies, brains, and interactions with our environment provide the mostly unconscious basis for our everyday metaphysics, that is, our sense of what is real.”

Together with the “father” of embodied simulation Vittorio Gallese George Lakoff wrote and article “The Brain’s Concepts: The Role of the Sensory-Motor System in Conceptual Knowledge.” (2005).

The argue against the cognitive processing

A common philosophical position is that all concepts—even concepts about action and perception—are symbolic and abstract, and therefore must be implemented outside the brain’s sensory-motor system.

and suggest embodied simulation, assuming that

“sensory-motor regions of brain are directly exploited to characterise the so-called “abstract” concepts that constitute the meanings of grammatical constructions and general inference patterns.”

In the recent book “Embodied cognition” Shapiro distinguishes three important themes in embodied cognition (Shapiro, 2010):

Conceptualization – the properties of the organism’s body constrain which concepts an organism can acquire.

Replacement – the organism’s body in interaction with the environment replaces the need for symbolic representational processes. (systems do not include representational states)

Constitution – the body or world plays a constitutive role rather than causal role in cognitive processing.

I am thinking of two interesting aspects:
How is personal cognitive niche/a cultural niche a coherent referential network?

A person can offload some of the affordances to the environment using some artifacts, so the community niche may form and be reused for personal cognitive navigation?

A person interacts with other people directly and the monitored actions and emotions actualize temporarily parts of the community niche as well, which may be used for navigating in personal cognitive niche

How are some dimensions in the geo-cognitive space highlighted among others, and which are in principle these “spaces of flows” within cultural/community spaces and how one person is immersed to these flows.


collaboratively narrated conceptual and geographical places

October 7, 2010

I was reading an article

Bing Pan
Xiang (Robert) Li
Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. xx, No. xx, pp. xxx–xxx, 2011

This paper talks of tagged images (so called ontological space for conceptions) and people’s destination in real geographical locations.

It is interesting from two aspects:

It makes me think that in ontological space your position is determined by the frequently perceived ontodimensions in the community (by yourself) and less frequently preferred additional ontodimensions. It may be imagined that there is one central ontological dimension (or plane) and additional dimensions (planes) that shift you in this multidimensional space to certain area in respect from the first plane.

Another interesting aspect is the relationship of conceptual spaces and positions with the real geographical locations and geopositions that people will choose.


The destination image phrases American travelers use to describe China follow the power-law distribution:
a few phrases or attractions are well-known to many of the respondents;

Top two phrases ‘‘Great Wall’’ and ‘‘Beijing.’’ The two terms contribute to almost half of the phrase volume; about 85% of respondents use at least one of these two.

These may be the most frequent ontodimensions?

b) hundreds of niche phrases are used very few times individually, but collectively they account for a large volume.

Here niche is used in the context of products determined for certain specific user-groups.

These are the additional dimensions that specify the ontoposition?

The distribution of stereotypical and affective image phrases follow both the 80-20 rule and the long tail pattern, if one defines the ‘‘head’’ as the top 10 phrases in the latter case.

The top 10 phrases cover more than 73% of total volume.

The general managerial contribution lies in the validation of the importance of niche products and market in the Internet age. Different ‘‘head’’ and ‘‘tail’’ sections of image phrases might be suitable for different marketing channels.
Notably, there is no apparent cutoff point which divides popular image phrases from niche ones depending on the marketing purpose, the choice of top attributes is
rather arbitrary.

The most popular (i.e., the top 20%) phrases are vital since they represent the majority of tourists; however, it is unlikely that all those attributes could be promoted effectively.
To avoid diluting a brand’s identity or sending confusing brand messages, the positioning literature traditionally suggests destinations to focus on several key themes in their mass media marketing efforts.

This classic strategy accomplishes effectiveness by essentially compromising niche markets to more mainstream market.

The present study argues that such compromise is no longer valid in today’s environment and researchers, should pay more attention to those uncommon even obscure destination images: holders of the ‘‘tail’’ images are not only more knowledgeable about a destination, but also more likely to visit it.

A new segmentation approach might be employed based on the distinctiveness of
phrases the tourists type in. One can take full advantage of the aggregated niche markets.

In addition, providing more niche attractions and unique characteristics can also help alleviate the congestions in popular attractions and implicitly direct tourists to less visited areas.

In really such travel images are created by people who visit places, take images and tag images positioning them in the multidimensional ontological space defined certain dimensions. Thereby as a collaborative activity of many travellers certain ontopositions will be attached to certain geographical locations.
Frequent dimensions in ontological and geographical places, which are usually searched first will all also have associations with additional and less frequently percieved dimensions that can lead travellers to discover other ontopositions than initially they could define (and als visit the associated geographical locations).

There is one figure from another article about creating literary places, which i recently tried to elaborate from the point of view of collaboratively created literary places. I have just added some keywords that may be important to distinguish such as:

a) if literary place is associated with one writer’s story, the collaboratively narrated place is created by many individuals as part of their personal narratives

b) if the traditional literary place is a location that is described in the writer’s story, the new collaboratively narrated places are part of each individual’s narrative trajectory, and we may also find from these trajectories some narrative trajectory patterns

c) if a literary place from writer’s story is associated with emotions described in the story, or emotions that readers have experienced while reading the story, the new collaboratively narrated literary places are especially focusing on this second aspect – personal feelings, emotions will become associated with the place and with its representational images as tags, and the associations may be thus aggregated

d) literary places are also real geographical locations the writer has chosen, which may be geotagged, if cretian images and emotions are geotagged by many in the same location, this becomes an attractive geoposition

e) it is suggested to add facilities and services to this geographical location to introduce what is the association with the story. The collaboratively narrated places externalize the activity potentials of the place perceived and activated by many storytellers. These will be associated with the geographical location using the ontospacial plane (tag-dimensions). The embodiment of such activity potenentials will become possible in geographical locations.

f) the literary places are usually added in some tourist itineraries, which are certain geographical trajectories. The ontospacial additional space will enable to orientate and choose directions in the geographical place – the narrative trajectory of the crowd may be used for defining personal narrative trajectory and the trajectory in geographical space.

g) If usually the literary places are developed later after the novel becomes popular and remains unchanged in spite of visitors who come there, the collaboratively narrated places emerge and evolve and change dynamically in result of visitor interactions with the places.


Spatial niches of medieval knights

May 19, 2010

Anatole Fuksas, has been explaining the niche ideas in medieval courtly novels.

I find the following points really interesting because for me they are related with tags as space dimensions and how we may create such spaces in course of action, what such spaces might allow us, and how we perceive and interact with the reduced tag-dimensions of the space.

The medieval courtly novel describes a world of adventures which is built around the knights and their much needed achievements.

Topographic descriptions define the right path to adventure, a narrow scenario which stays the same over time so as to preserve untouched the opportunities for adventure it entails and the challenges it potentially offers to the knight who finds it.

Environmental descriptions in medieval courtly novels feature very consistent «taskscapes» instead of proper landscapes.

The protagonists of medieval courtly novels are mostly knights who belong to the same ‘species’ and the same ‘race’, so that their different reactions to the environmental challenges do not define the borders of different ecological niches.

This is a bit confusing in his explanation, i think that the species as such can define a niche, not one knight as the specimen of the species. Actually… The question is, do knights represent one species-specific niche, or do their different goals will represent different niches. What i believe is that in case of adopting ecology terms (specimen, species, community, niche) to humans we need to consider that the different goals/mindsets one human can take might enable a human to simultaneously be part of and develop different niches. What i say is human defined niches are goal-specific taskspaces, and we can adapt ourselves to many taskspaces

Provided that they share a common idea of society and nature, they perceive the very same affordances. Accordingly, the different way they respond to the environmental challenges does not imply that their conflicting options define the borders of different realities, even when their approaches to adventure radically differ.

Different adaptation of protagonists (knights) to the very same environment define the borders of different niches, to the point that multiple autonomous or overlapping niches may either conflict or merge into the very same novel.

Here i would say that individuals knights take perspectives of the niche space – this will determine their trajectories, or positions in the knightly species niche.

Conflicting niches /or perspectives/ typically emerge from the adoption of different character-specific perspectives for describing the very same events.

Conflictual interaction between different character-specific perspectives, which define the borders of different ecological niches, determines both the extent and the complexity of the ecosystem described in a novel.

It is not clearly described how conflict interaction would define the borders of such niches. I think borders of taskspecific niches will create the potential for conflicts – especially if the same person has to choose in the course of adoption which taskspace (niche) he should adapt himself in the current moment.

Basically,  medieval novelists seem to be interested in describing conflictual situations which emerge among conspecific individuals who adopt different positions in the very same ecological niche.

I think knights adopt different positions in the taskspaces (subspaces or niches) that are situated in the bigger knightly species-specific niche.

In novels, time is fragmented in segments so as to subserve the description of various adventures which take place in a deformed space resulting from a subjective emotional play with distance and proximity.

It would be interesting to elaborate the issue of spatial trajectories in the niche and consider what is the role of time and events in this spatial movement in taskspecific niches of the knightly niche.

I believe that the spatial view of courtly novel storytelling, if we take the niche as this tasksspace where people interact, will show few positions in taskspace where certain knight is, and the trajectory of the novel would fluctuate between these spatial attractor points.

The beauty in what Anatole wrote is the idea, that deliberately, to make the novel space perceptible, its dimensions are lessened compared with the reality.

And thus the reader can imagine better the niche as a multidimensional space which has only certain (not too many) dimensions.

So it becomes possible to visualise the adventures as the movement between few spatial areas in this knightly niche.

Anyway, i think this idea is wonderfully well in line and inspiring to my own spatial storytelling experiments in hybrid ecosystem.


Systemic concepts in hybrid ecosystem

January 4, 2010

Previously, i have described what hybrid ecosystem is and how it functions in one book chapter.

Knowledge ecologies framework

In the next version i have combined the approach better with the ontospace ideas.

Hybrid ecosystem should be described at least three systemic levels.
I have tried to map the concepts related to each level.

Hybrid ecosystem level concepts

Hybrid ecosystem level concepts


liquid learning place, free-floating knowledge, flow experience

September 20, 2009

Today a ‘liquid learning place’ metaphor caught my eye in the blog of Eleanora Guglielman.
It is a S. Warburton brand marking the fluidity of concepts and identity:

Concepts of identity are inherently fluid and flexible and our understandings of learning are becoming less strongly bonded to institutions and specific educational spaces. This is a landscape where the form is contingent on the beholder. A place where learning opportunities shift and adjust to the learner.

It reminds me is a “free floating” metaphor that i first detected few years ago in concerns with elearning (Barron, 2000).

Barron (2000) views the convergence of Knowledge Management and e-Learning as:

“a beast (which) combines formal training as represented by e-Learning, and the free-floating knowledge swirling through organisations that knowledge management practices seek to snare and share”.

Barron T, (2000),“A Smarter Frankenstein: The Merging of e-Learning and Knowledge Management”at accessed 29/05/02

Siemens wrote in his book “Knowing Knowledge”:

Ecologies and networks provide the solution to needed structures and spaces to house and facilitate knowledge flow (p. 86).

Besides associating floating, liquidity and flow to knowledge itself and connecting it with the spaces where knowledge is moved, the flow process has been associated with personal perception and action.

A term of interest is “flow experience”.

This originates from a metaphor people were using: several people described their ‘flow’ experiences using the metaphor of a water current carrying them along.

Some factors that Csíkszentmihályi identifies as accompanying an experience of flow are of interest:

– Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention
– A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
– People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging

My interest is a hybrid ecosystem, combining virtual arnd real worlds, people, knowledge and activities.

I would like to have a bit of time, thinking how people become part of hybrid reality involving knowledge, action and the environment into their activity space, perceiving this flow experience.

Becoming hybrid beings in any moment of an activity, extending yourself out of your physical body by action and merging yourself with the environment, may enable probably to be part of these liquid places where knowledge is free-floating. But how does the fluidity of knowledge enhance the flow experience? Or does it help?

Is it something as “caught by the pipe”?


Timespace, what else

March 6, 2009

I have been running with some students an experiment of hybrid narratives.

We have been writing personal narratives and collaborating in the non-determined manner, presumably we have simulated something swarm-like.

Now we are in the phase of collecting data and looking ideas for analysing what we experienced. There are many ways. Today i came to one of my old blog posting about time-space, which seems to visualize what i always imagine as the activity and meaning paths within one ecology.

Here is the idea of personal time-space from a paper.


I think what is possible to do on the basis of our dataset is to show something similar. I am still thinking how to put on one figure places, experienced entities and their transformations.

Let’s imagine places are real locative spots from where i collected content.
In the next layer (Brightkite) this content did a permutation. In the more next layer (in Flickr) it changed one more time. And in Blog as well.

Instead of time, i could use the quantity of impressions or objects from this spot.

And i think i also need something for distinguishing my favourite categories of objects, either by meaning, activity, narrative or so.

For example my favourites may be trees, birds, shadows. Or some particular tags that i use distinguish my categories.

It is still not clear how i will visualise it…
My data are currently in excel format.

If i could map more than one person into this space, i could see something similar to ant-road in our little narrative ecology swarm.


Binding affordances and GIS in hybrid places

January 23, 2009

There is an interesting paper that provides some ideas how to use affordances together with geographical coordinates. This would enable the practical exploration of geolocative spaces.

However, this framework is yet limited in describing hybrid places – the various virtual artifacts and meanings and action cules that are simultaneously mapped geolocatively must be part of the place description with affordances.

The affordances are individually or culturally defined. This duality of bottom up definition and top-down use of such affordance-rich coordinates should be part of the technical platforms of mapping and exploring hybrid places.

An Affordance-Based Model of Place in GIS
Troy Jordan, Martin Raubal*, Bryce Gartrell, and Max J. Egenhofer

This paper presents a methodology to model places with affordances.
Modeling places with affordances integrates cognitive and engineering aspects, therefore leading to a knowledge-representation that comes closer to the user.
The integration of affordance-based models of places into future GIS will lead to a better communication between users and systems.

We advocate the use of affordances—those things which an object, an assemblage of objects, or an environment enables one to do—for modeling place within GIS.
In order to come up with a scientific concept of place it is necessary to accommodate the relatively objective view of the theoretical scientist (i.e., a decentered view) as well as the subjective view of the individual (i.e., a centered view) who directly experiences a specific place.

Tuan (1977): place is space infused with human meaning.
Experiences of places involve perception, cognition, and affection. Therefore, a place cannot simply be described as the location of one object relative to others. The concept of place has to integrate both its location and its meaning in the context of human action.

The geographical concept of place refers to the areal context of events, objects, and actions, and includes both natural elements and human constructions. It also incorporates the notion of change through time.
Places are a human invention, engendered by naming, applying typologies (eg. suburb, ghetto), picking out symbols (eg Pyramids-Egipt), telling stories, and doing things.
Mapping space by GIS, though useful, does not always match the way people think about their world.
Integrating a model of how people conceptualize and perceive places into GIS will enable to use GIS to make important decisions about places.

We use the following interpretation of the means-end hierarchy for a place (Rasmussen and Pejtersen 1995):

Functional Purpose: purposes and values

Abstract Function: flow of mass, energy, information, people and monetary value

Generalized Function: general work activities

Physical function: specific work processes and physical processes

Physical form: Appearance, Location and configuration of Material Objects

Zaff (1995): “Affordances are measurable aspects of the environment that can only be measured in terms of the individual.
Particularly, it is important to understand the action relevant properties of the environment in terms of values intrinsic to the agent.

Affordances, therefore, play a key role in an experiential view of space (Kuhn, 1996) and place, because they offer a user-centered perspective.

Affordances of physical space can be grouped into four categories reflecting different task situations (Kuhn, 1996):

affordances for an individual user (e.g., move),

a user and an individual entity (e.g., objectify),

a user and multiple entities (e.(e.g., communicate)

We suggest the following 6 aspects of Place:

Physical features: Places consist of collections of objects. Each person perceives some set of affordances for a given small-scale object or collection of objects in large-scale space.

Actions: People perform actions in places. As we have seen, actions are one of the most
important aspects that gives meaning to a place. By defining the relationships between intentions, functions, and physical features, we uncover which actions are possible, and which are constrained.

Narrative: Stories are told in order to help characterize the uniqueness of a place as we define normative/acceptable behavior, by revealing the past actions of others. Establish a historical record: What a place looked like, who was there, what they did, and why theydid it.

Symbolic representations/Names: Certain places are referenced by symbols (e.g., New York City is often referenced as the “Big Apple”) having symbolic and/or mythical meanings. Users can represent complex objects with a simpler (abstract) representation.

(why not tags?)

Socioeconomic and Cultural factors: People identify themselves with places socioeconomically. Different cultures afford different behavior in places.

Typologies: People categorize places in order to understand what is new, in terms of what is already understood.

We suggest that the integration of places into GIS would lead to a better match with people’s real-world spatial interactions than do coordinate-based models and, therefore, to a more user-friendly GIS. Our approach outlines the broad categories of information that must be gathered in order to successfully answer place-based queries. The actual work of establishing a useful affordance hierarchy is formidable. Much work needs to be done to consider the perceptual aspaffordances, especially as they need to be mapped into the electronic domain of GIS.

Kuhn W. (1996). Handling Data Spatially: Spatializing User Interfaces. in: Kraak M. and Molenaar M. (Eds.), SDH’96, Advances in GIS Research II, Proceedings. 2, pp. 13B.1-13B.23, International Geographical Union, Delft.
Rasmussen J. and Pejtersen A. M. (1995). Virtual Ecology of Work. In Flack J., Hancock P., Caird J., Vicente K. (Eds.) Global Perspectives on the Ecology ofNew Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Tuan Y. (1977). Space and Place. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.
Zaff B. (1995). Designing with Affordances in Mind. In Flack J., Hancock P., Caird J., Vicente K. (Eds.) Global Perspectives on the Ecology of Human-Machine Systems (volume 1), pp. 121-156. Hillsdale, New Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.