Archive for the ‘hybrid ecology’ Category

h1

Grant report: Distributed learning environments, their interoperability, and models of application (2008-2013)

April 7, 2011

From 2008-2013 our team in Tallinn University, Center for Educational Technology was fulfilling the grant “Distributed learning environments, their interoperability, and models of application”.
Now it is the time to make some conclusions:

We developed the framework and tool prototypes for supporting self-directed learning in augmented learning environment. An augmented learning environment is defined as such merging traditional learning environment and a virtual learning environment together with various technological tools and social software.

——————————–

I. A model of self-directed learning where learners are involved in development of their personal learning environment was created. Mainly bachelor and master level students were involved in performing the empirical studies. A conceptual framework for designing learning courses which focus on the development of competences of self-directed learners is developed.

Several experiments in authentic course settings were conducted:
a) the course for self-directed learning with social software in TLU,
b) the international course of eLearning with iCamp project partners, and
c) the course Narrative ecology in TLU.
The students’ visually- and verbally-presented self-reflected feedback to the learning environments and activity patterns was collected from the augmented environments.
The following analytical results were achieved:
a) Learners’ perspectives to self-directed learning were identified (Pata & Merisalo, 2009; 2010)
b) Instructional design aspects of self-directed learning were outlined (Fiedler & Pata, 2009; Pata & Merisalo, 2009; 2010, Väljataga, Pata, Tammets, 2010)
c) Learners progress in self-direction using particular indicators was described (Pata & Merisalo, 2009; 2010)
d)The new swarming behaviors of creating personal and collaborative narratives in augmented environment as the self-generative phenomenon, and the changes in the storytelling standards were identified and explained using the ontospace approach (Pata, 2009; 2010;2011).

These empirical results provided an input to determining the characteristics of learning design framework for self-directed learning in augmented learning environments (Fiedler & Pata, 2009; Pata, 2009a,b; Pata, 2010a,b; Pata & Merisalo, 2009; Pata & Merisalo, 2010; Pata, 2011; Normak, Pata, Kaipainen, submitted; Pata & Laanpere, submitted).

The main characteristics of an ecological framework to learning design for self-directed learning in augmented learning environments adopt the ecosystems principles for describing pedagogical processes in learning space. The framework assumes the following: The nature of education is changing and the prioritization of learning experiences from informal and non-formal education, besides formal education, is expanding the range of learning options. Beyond the boundaries of formal higher education individuals have to structure and carry out their activities without a support of educational authorities. Therefore, in parallel to teaching domain related knowledge, formal higher education should create opportunities for students to practice and advance their dispositions for self-directing intentional learning projects. Giving students increased control over crucial instructional functions may be achieved by promoting self-directed individuals, who are capable of updating their knowledge and skills outside of formal educational systems. Therefore, instructional design should rather be seen as an intervention design of challenging situations with placement of constraints. An emerging personal learning environment (PLE) approach to augmenting learning environments emphasizes learner control over an environment and networking. An elaborated understanding of PLE integrates important instructional functions of learner control as an expression of self-direction and gives an opportunity to talk about self-directing intentional projects, in which an individual is provided with much higher control over his project and environment. Setting up one’s PLE in relation to a particular learning project has two sides: it requires a certain degree of learner control and on the other hand it also helps to practice dispositions.
The educational changes towards self-directed learning in augmented spaces have two major implications:
1) The possibility for individually differentiated use of learning tools, methods and freedom in selecting personally relevant learning goals requires more self-direction from the learners in order to satisfy individual learning needs, and
2) For achieving maximal results individually, there is a need to discover how learners with similar goals belonging to the appropriate learning community would conduct their learning, and orientate one’s activities accordingly.
We suggest that learning has certain analogies to how an individual specimen of any species adapts itself to the niches of its species in the natural ecosystems. Inspired by this analogism, we apply the concepts and methods of ecology for studying and designing learning processes. We assume that learning design process forms an iterative continuous cycle:
a) In one phase one learning community defines dynamically their learning niche (or the niche of similar previous community /course/ could be used);
b) In another phase the conditions for the re-appearance of this learning niche will be supported by instructional designers by preserving and making the activity- and meaning traces created during the real activities of initial community available for the next communities. According to this model, learners and facilitators participate ecologically in the niche construction, changing the learning space and causing the evolution of learning. At the same time, they can use social navigation in the community’s learning niche to guide their individual learning actions. The basic steps of an ecological learning design framework for supporting self-directed learning in augmented learning environments are:
1. Define the learning and teaching niches for your students by collecting their affordance perceptions of their learning spaces dynamically in the course of action.
2. To support the conscious self-managed development of learner-determined spaces, provide students with the tools of visualizing and monitoring their activity-patterns and learning landscapes, and enhancing public self-reflection and collaborative grounding of learning affordances.
3. To maintain coherence of the current niche, introduce cycles of re-evaluation of learning affordances of the learning space within your course.
4. Try to influence the niche re-emergence by embedding activity traces and ecological knowledge relevant to evoke affordances for certain niches or select activity systems where these traces are naturally present.
5. Use same social learning environments repeatedly to gain from feedback left as activity traces and embodied knowledge of earlier learners.

Paper The Ecological Meta-Design framework for Web 2.0 Learning Ecosystems by Pata & Laanpere is in progress. In this paper we summarize the learning patterns of self-directed learners in different augmented settings and propose the design framework.

Related papers:

Kieslinger, Barbara, Pata, Kai (2008). Am I Alone? The Competitive Nature of Self-reflective Activities in Groups and Individually. ED-MEDIA 2008 – World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications. Vienna, Austria, June 30-July 4, 2008. (6337 – 6342).AACE

Tammets, Kairit; Väljataga, Terje; Pata, Kai (2008). Self-directing at social spaces: conceptual framework for course design . Ed-Media, Viin, 30. juuni-4. juuli, 2008. AACE, 2008, 2030 – 2038.

Fiedler, S.; Pata, K. (2009). Distributed learning environments and social software: in search for a framework of design. Stylianos Hatzipanagos and Steven Warburton (Toim.). Handbook of Research on Social Software and Developing Community Ontologies. (145 – 158).Idea Group Reference

Pata, K. (2009). Modeling spaces for self-directed learning at university courses. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 12, 23 – 43.

Väljataga, Terje (2009). Selecting tools and services:an expression of self-direction in higher education. In: The Proceedings of the 8th European Conference on e-Learning: 8th European Conference on e-Learning, Bari, Italy, 29-30. Oct. 2009. (Toim.) Dan Remenyi. UK: Academic Publishers, 2009, 665 – 671.

Pata, K.; Merisalo, S. (2009). Self-direction indicators for evaluating the design-based eLearning course with social software . Kinshuk; D.G.; Sampson; J.M. Specor; P.Isaias; D.Ifenthaller (Toim.). IADIS International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age CELDA 2009 (196 – 203). Rome: IADIS Press

Väljataga, Terje (2009). If a student takes control: facilitator’s tasks and responsibilities. In: Advances in Web Based Learning – ICWL 2009: 8th International Conference, Aachen, Germany, August 2009. (Toim.) Marc Spaniol, Quing Li, Ralf Klamma, Rynson W.H. Lau. Germany: Springer Heidelberg, 2009, (LNCS 5686), 390 – 399.

Väljataga, Terje; Pata, Kai, Tammets, K. (2010). Considering learners’ perspectives to personal learning environments in course design. J.W. Lee; C. McLoughlin (Toim.). Web 2.0 Based E-Learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching (85 – 108).IGI Global

Pata, K.; Merisalo, S. (2010). SELF-DIRECTION INDICATORS FOR EVALUATING THE DESIGN-BASED ELEARNING COURSE WITH SOCIAL SOFTWARE. Dirk Ifenthaler, Dr. Kinshuk, Pedro Isaias, Demetrios G. Sampson, J. Michael Spector (Toim.). Multiple Perspectives on Problem Solving and Learning in the Digital Age (343 – 358).Springer

K.Pata & M.Laanpere, An Ecological Meta-Design framework for open learning ecosystems, ECER 2011, “Urban Education”, konverents (accepted).Berlin, Germany from 13th to 16th September.(accepted)

——————————-

II. An ecological approach to learning dynamics was developed that bases on the idea of dynamically evolving learning space that is described by certain ontological coordinates and terms borrowed from physical ecosystems.

In the ecological framework of learning design model we have described in detail using the spatio-dynamic ontospatial methods, how individual learners would determine their learning paths in the community learning space.

The following analytical results were achieved:
a) Learners’ perception to their individual and collaborative learning niches with social software using affordances was described (Pata, 2009a,b; Väljataga, Pata, Tammets, 2010) and formalized using dynamic ontospatial methods (Normak, Pata & Kaipainen, submitted).
b) Learners’ individual and collaborative perspectives within the shared ontospace in hybrid ecosystem were characterized (Pata, 2010).

We assume that new approaches to emergent learner-directed learning design can be strengthened with a theoretical framework that considers learning as a dynamic process.
We propose an approach that models a learning process using a set of spatial concepts: learning space, niche, perspective, state of a learner, step, path, direction of a step and step gradient. A learning process is presented as a path within a niche (or between niches) in a learning space, which consists of a certain number of steps leading the learner from the initial state to a target state in the dynamically changing learning space. When deciding on steps, the learner can take guidance from learning paths that are effective from a viewpoint of the learning community.

Kaipainen, M.; Normak, P.; Niglas, K.; Kippar, J.; Laanpere, M. (2008). Soft ontologies, spatial representations and multi-perspective explorability. Expert Systems, 25(5), 474 – 483.

Pata, K. (2009). Revising the framework of knowledge ecologies: how activity patterns define learning spaces? . Niki Lambropoulos & Margarida Romero (Toim.). Educational Social Software for Context-Aware Learning: Collaborative Methods & Human Interaction. (241 – 266).Idea Group Reference

Pata, K.; Fuksas, A.P. (2009). Ecology of Embodied Narratives in the Age of Locative Media and Social Networks: a Design Experiment. Cognitive Philology, 2, 1 – 21.

Pata, K. (2010). An ontospatial representation of writing narratives in hybrid ecosystem. In: Proceedings: Workshop on Database and Expert Systems Applications: 21st International Workshop of DEXA, 3rd International Workshop on Social and Personal Computing for Web-Supported Learning Communities. August, 30th – September, 3rd 2010, Bilbao, Spain.. (Toim.) A.M.Tjoa and R.R.Wagner. Los Alamitos, California: IEEE Computer Society Press, 2010, 87 – 91.

Pata, K. (2011). Participatory design experiment: Storytelling Swarm in hybrid narrative ecosystem. B. K. Daniel (Toim.). A Handbook of Research on Methods and Techniques for Studying Virtual Communities: Paradigms and PhenomenaHershey. New York (482 – 508). Hershey. New York: Information Science Reference

Normak, P., Pata, K. & Kaipainen, M. (submitted). An Ecological Approach to Learning Dynamics.

——————————-

III. A new conception of a distributed learning environment that supports self-directed learning was elaborated. Based both on empirical and theoretical research, software prototypes „EduFeedr“ (for managing web based courses) (http://www.edufeedr.net/pg/edufeedr/faq; http://www.edufeedr.org/) , „LePress“ (for assessing learning outcomes in blog based personal learning environments) and „LeContract“ (for composing and management of learning contracts) are developed. The developed conception of distributed learning environment was taken as the basis in designing a new generation distributed learning management system

Tomberg, Vladimir; Laanpere, Mart (2009). RDFa versus Microformats: Exploring the Potential for Semantic Interoperability of Mash-up Personal Learning Environments. In: Mashup Personal Learning Environments: MUPPLE 09, Nizza, 29.September 2009. (Toim.) Fridolin Wild, Marco Kalz, Matthias Palmér, Daniel Müller . Aachen:, 2009, (CEUR Workshop Proceedings; 506).

Põldoja, Hans (2010). EduFeedr: following and supporting learners in open blog-based courses. In: Open ED 2010 Proceedings: Open Ed 2010 – The Seventh Annual Open Education Conference, Barcelona, 2.-4. november 2010. Barcelona: UOC, OU, BYU, 2010, 399 – 407.

Leinonen, Teemu; Purma, Jukka; Põldoja, Hans; Toikkanen, Tarmo (2010). Information Architecture and Design Solutions Scaffolding Authoring of Open Educational Resources. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, 3(2), 116 – 128.

Põldoja, Hans; Väljataga, Terje (2010). Externalization of a PLE: Conceptual Design of LeContract. In: The PLE Conference: The PLE Conference, Barcelona, 8.-9. juuli 2010. Barcelona:, 2010.

Tomberg, Vladimir; Laanpere, Mart; Lamas, David (2010). Learning Flow Management and Semantic Data Exchange between Blog-based Personal Learning Environments. G. Leitner, M. Hitz, and A. Holzinger (Toim.). HCI in Work & Learning, Life & Leisure – USAB 2010 (340 – 352). Berlin: Springer Verlag

Tomberg, Vladimir; Laanpere, Mart (2011). Implementing distributed architecture of online assessment tools based on IMS QTI ver.2. Lazarinis, Fotis; Green, Steve; Pearson, Elaine (Toim.). Handbook of Research on E-Learning Standards and Interoperability: Frameworks and Issues (41 – 58).Idea Group Reference

Advertisements
h1

Ecology of learning with new media tools

November 9, 2010

I was invited by Merja Bauters to do a lecture

“Ecology of learning with new media tools”

at Master of Semiotics program in Helsinki University for the course “Semiotics and media, sciences and technology studies”

Lecture was recorded at Monday, 15th of November, 2010 (16-18)
https://connect.metropolia.fi/p18468401/

h1

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.

h1

Interactivity and affordances in digital ecosystems

October 30, 2010

We have just ended with David Lamas the course Introduction to new media.

Part of the course tasks was concept mapping around new media issues to develop a conceptual system for making sense of new media ecosystems.
Yesterday i have reviewed all the maps and wrote out some more general concepts.

When clustering these concepts i have organized them around central questions:
Who?
How?
Why?
Where?
What?

I have placed the clusters who and how close to each other, because the actors who interact with new media are at the same time the mediators and creators of interactivity.

I have placed where? and why? close to each other, since in some ways they are the results of interaction. But it is not the full picture. The spaces, artifacts and knowledge too serve also as mediators of interactivity for me, since they enable activities and applications.

I have placed the cluster why? in the center to connect possible application areas and activities.

While positioning different clusters on the map it became quite clear that according to the embodied cognition viewpoint in digital ecosystems all the presented components would be intertwined and we cannot talk separately of mediators of action.

In the center of the interaction in embodied cognition is the affordance concept.
Current formalizations of affordances (e.g. Sahin et al., 2007; Ugur et al., 2009) originate from robotics and describe affordances through a triple consisting of the initial percept of the object, the behavior applied, and the effect produced (effect, (entity, behavior)).

So the entity / what is used for defining the affordance, but also what is influenced/ can be from the group of users, spaces, artifacts, knowledge and software (and maybe also from culture, i am particularly thinking of cultural interfaces that include behaviour).
The behaviour can be from the group of activities and behaviour (maybe also from the group of applications, because this gives the goals?).
In really we also need to have so called mental behaviour (such as emotions?).

The effect may be then measured for different targets:
users
places/spaces
artifacts
knowledge
software
culture

This way we can describe always the interaction/coupling between one actor(person) with the entities (embodying) and as a result of affordance perception influencing (having effect) on the entities (disembodying).

One affordance entails always more than one component as entities.

Entity type (user(s); space; artifacts; knowledge; software; culture) affords behaviour (actions; emotions) and it leads to outcome (application goals).

From every entity type only certain dimensions (characteristics, properties) are actualized in particular moment. These can be both processual (what actions), emotional (what emotions), conceptual (what meanings), locative (what positions/places) and structure properties (what size, shape, force, part, region etc.).

The effect has to be measured using the same characteristics e.g. action was completed (at what effect level), emotion was reached (at what effect level?), meanings were strenghtened, positions where changed, spaces were created, some new configuratons of properties were achieved.

So the figure of clustered concepts shows, what will be the affordances and the combined affordances that allow interactivity in digital ecosystems…

For example the affordances that allow interactivity in digital ecosystems meant for spatial storytelling in hybrid ecosystem using the swarming method may be described using the following entities and behaviours:

Entities and properties
individuals /adaptability; flow experience
networks; communities (friendfeeds) / awareness; participatory surveillance
software types (microblogs) / interoperability; openness
PLEs / user customized
knowledge objects /variability, modularity, user-generated
aggregated artifacts / interconnectivity
personal places / shared intersubjectivity
spatial narratives /ontbrands
niches /dynamic, openness
dynamic liquid space /expandability, openness, dynamic
folksonomies
cultural interface/

Behaviours:
personal information management
reflections
narrative experiences
produsage
remediation
social navigation
social accumulation
swarming
community browsing
remixing
emotions

Basically self-directed individuals using PLEs and personal networks (friendfeeds) in hybrid spaces leave write personal spatial (geospatial and spatial in conceptual space) narratives. These will be accumulated as community niches and used for social navigation (basically person adapts to the niche). Spatial swarming appears on top of this activity causing some story prototypes to appear as particular brands. Besides this, individuals also have awareness of each other, which also allows noticing some spatial places and relocate to these places. Such ontobrands allow remediation and remixing of story contents.

So important is interactivity between user-artifact (dimensions that it reveals); user-space ((geo)tags that allow spatial positioning); user-user (perhaps indirectly the flow experience of other users are perceived from their activity frequency, also the focuses of their stories are inferred from artifacts).

h1

connectivity through (digital)ecosystem engineering that influences niche construction of communities

October 7, 2010

I found a nice paper in which Kevin Laland, the author of influential book Niche Construction: The Neglected Process in Evolution (2003) has co-written the paper of human niche construction from the archeological perspective. Thanks to Emanuele Bardone from Pavia Computational Philosophy Lab i got the file in the morning!

It is interesting from the point of view of explaining the niche construction effects of humans using the long-lasting and cultural “traits” that humans transfer to the next generations as mediators or carriers which have the indirect accumulative modification pressure on environments and thereby on the other organisms that can affect human life and human gene evolution.
He highlights the indirect interactions between species and the organism connectivity by the engineering web and not by the food web:

The ecosystem engineers can regulate energy flows, mass flows, and trophic patterns in ecosystems to generate an “engineering web”—a mosaic of connectivity comprising the engineering interactions of diverse species.

On my opinion, this is exactly what happens in human-artifact networks that represent this kind of connectivity in engineering web.

Basically the process is:
Human cultural traits = human behaviour as ecosystem engineering for increasing their fitness to the niche
-> changing the niche for other organisms associated with humans
-> evolutionary response of other organisms to the changing niche
-> evolutionary changes in humans in response to other organisms
-> human behaviour changes or consistency = modifying or strenghtening certain cultural traits

A meme (Dawkins, 1976) is a unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.
Memes evolve by natural selection (in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution) through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance influencing an individual meme’s reproductive success. Memes spread through the behaviors that they generate in their hosts.

And possibly by niche generation as well!
Dawkins noted it as a condition which must exist for evolution to occur: differential “fitness”, or the opportunity for one element to be more or less suited to the environment than another

In order to use ecology principles for explaining interactions of humans and human communities with social software systems the following analogy may be used:

specimen of one species = human

species with certain gene frequency = specimen with similar range of identity perception, a community (note that identity is based on shared meanings or actions / /memes??/cultural traits??/)

niche as a range of environmental factors that allow fitness to the species = niche as a range of affordances perceived and frequently used in actions by certain community in their interactions with each other and with their environments (virtual or real) that allow their semiotic or cultural fitness

The semiotic fitness, should ideally measure the semiotic competence or success of natural systems in managing the genotype-envirotype translation processes (Hoffmeyer, 1998).
Semetic interactions refer to interactions in which regularities (habits) developed by one species (or individual) successively become used (interpreted) as signs by the individuals of the same or another species, thereby eliciting new habits in this species eventually to become – sooner or later – signs for other individuals, and so on in a branching and unending web integrating the ecosystems of the planet into a global semiosphere (Hoffmeyer, 1993).
The semiotic adaptability is a process, in the course of which the subject
correlates self-related and environment-related information, thereby localising
itself in the environment (Maran, 2005).

community (a number of species) in certain environmental locations = several human communities who coexist in certain virtual social software or hybrid environments

co-adaptive niches apply for such communities which consist of a number of species who may be connected by food-webs or by engineering webs= several human communities connected mainly by engineering webs create co-adaptive niches for each other and may influence each other

Ecosystem ecology that studies how matter and energy circulates in ecosystems,should also consider how ecosystem (entropy, succession, networks, communities, interactions) is influenced by the ecosystem engineering done by co-existing species in this ecosystem as part of connectivity comprising the engineering interactions of diverse species. The same applies for communities in this digital or hybrid ecosystem.

Can such co-existing human communities in social software environments or hybrid environments engineer their niches so that this niche starts to constrain or facilitate other community?
Can such pressure influence some ways the individuals in each community to perceive certain affordances as useful for their cultural or semiotic fitness in the niche and influence the community identity?

For example if we take the long tail phenomenon, which reveals little niche artifacts, meanings, conceptions of certain communities. Can interaction in the same social software ecosystem (eg. shelfari for choosing books; delicious for choosing resources by tags) influence some communities to become more fit to their environment by broadening or narrowing their activity choices as a result of other community’s actions and niche construction (eg. choosing particular books or resources introduced by other community)

——————————————-

Niche Construction Theory and Archaeology
Kevin N. Laland & Michael J. O’Brien
J Archaeol Method Theory
DOI 10.1007/s10816-010-9096-6

Their basic idea is:
Niche construction is “the process whereby organisms, through their metabolism, their activities and their choices, modify their own and/or each other’s niches” (Odling-Smee et al. 2003, p. 419). The conceptual leap that niche construction theorists embrace is to regard niche construction as an evolutionary process in its own right. Some organism-driven changes in environments persist as a legacy to modify selection on subsequent generations, which Odling-Smee (1988) called an “ecological inheritance.”
Niche Construction Theory is sometimes referred to as “triple-inheritance theory” (genetic, cultural, and ecological inheritance; e.g., Odling-Smee et al. 1996, 2003; Laland et al. 1999, 2000, 2001; Day et al. 2003; Shennan 2006).
Rather than slipping into the assumption that the external environment (e.g., climate change) triggers an evolutionary or cultural response, NCT enthusiasts are from the outset inclined to consider those additional hypotheses stressing self-constructed (and other organism-constructed) conditions that instigate change.

Jones et al. (1994, 1997) uses concept of “ecosystem engineering,” as a relevant synonym for niche construction to describe the focus on organisms’ modification of environments.

Jones and his collaborators point out that many species of ecosystem engineers can regulate energy flows, mass flows, and trophic patterns in ecosystems to generate an “engineering web”—a mosaic of connectivity comprising the engineering interactions of diverse species, which regulates ecosystem functioning in conjunction with the well-studied webs of trophic interactions (Wilby 2002).

Organisms do considerably more in ecosystems than compete with each other, eat, and be eaten (trophic interactions). Organisms also produce, modify, and destroy habitat and resources for other living creatures, in the process driving co-evolutionary dynamics.

From the niche construction perspective, the connectivity in ecosystems is massively increased.

Hardesty (1972) stated that culture is the human ecological niche.
There are several examples of culturally induced genetic responses to human agriculture (Odling- Smee et al. 2003),
The best known being the co-evolution of the gene for lactose absorption and dairy farming (Durham 1991);
The Kwa-speaking yam cultivators in Africa who modified the environment and increased the amount of standing water which provided better feeding grounds for mosquitoes and increased the prevalence
of malaria and induced the increase in the frequency of the sickle-cell (HbS) in Kwa-speakers population that provides protection against malaria (Durham 1991).
The evolution of the human amylase gene which is responsible for starch consumption is a feature of agricultural societies and hunter–gatherers in arid environments, whereas other hunter–gatherers and some pastoralists consume much less starch (Perry et al. 2007).

Odling-Smee et al. (2003) describe as inceptive niche construction all cases in which organisms initiate changes in any factor, through either perturbation or relocation. Organisms express inceptive niche construction when by their activities they generate a change in the environment to which they are exposed. Conversely, if an environmental factor is already changing, or has changed, organisms may oppose or cancel out that change, a process labeled counteractive niche construction. They thereby restore a match between their previously evolved features and their environment’s factors. Counteractive niche construction is therefore conservative or stabilizing, and it generally functions to protect organisms from shifts in factors away from states to which they have been adapted.

Niche construction provides a non-Lamarckian route by which acquired characteristics can influence the selection on genes. Whereas the information acquired by individuals through ontogenetic processes clearly cannot be directly (genetically) inherited, processes such as learning can nonetheless still be of considerable importance to subsequent generations because learned knowledge can guide niche construction in ways that
modify natural selection acting on future generations.
This route is considerably enhanced by social learning, which allows animals to learn from each other.
There should be a significant relationship between the pertinent environmental state and the recipient character only when the niche-constructing activity is also present.
The same logic applies at the cultural level, and the same methods can be applied to hominins or to contemporary human populations, where they may shed light on the relationship between different kinds of cultural niche construction and their different consequences.

Laland et al. (2001) concluded that, because cultural processes typically operate faster than natural selection, cultural niche construction probably has more profound consequences than gene-based niche construction.
It also has driven coevolutionary interactions with other species, including domesticated animals and plants, commensal species adapted to human-constructed environments (e.g., rats, mice, and insects), and microbes (Boni and Feldman 2005; Smith 2007a, b).
There are no genes for domesticating dogs, manufacturing cheese, or cultivating rice (using “genes for” in the sense of Williams (1966) and Dawkins (1976) to mean alleles specifically selected for that function), and these activities, while frequently adaptive (increasing fitness in the present), are not adaptations (traits directly fashioned by natural selection).
If human activities have imposed selection on mice, houseflies, or mosquitoes is it because we are their competitors or predators, or even because we are linked in an elaborate food chain. Such co-evolutionary episodes are probably driven by nontrophic and indirect interactions between species—that is, by the engineering web (Jones et al. 1994) and not by the food web.

Cultural niche-constructing processes that contribute to plant domestication include selective collecting of reproductive propagules; transporting and storing of propagules; firing of grasslands, either intentionally or accidentally; cutting of trees; incidental tilling; and creating organically rich dump heaps, all of which are
potent forms of niche construction. Plants that are involved may undergo a series of phenotypic changes such as a general increase in size, an increase in the size of propagules, loss of delayed seed germination, simultaneous ripening of the seed crop, and so on. These changes occur as interaction with human agents increases the fitness of the plant community, which, in turn, increases the yield of the plant community. Increasing yield in turn generates selection favoring those cultural traits that maintain or increase productivity of the plants. This reinforcing mutualistic relation between plant and human populations is one process by which plant domestication, and human coadaptation, evolves.

Because of our habitat degradation as part of our niche construction we destroy the (engineering) control webs that underlie ecosystems.

Wilby, A. (2002). Ecosystem engineering: A trivialized concept? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 17, 307.
Jones, C. G., Lawton, G. H., & Shachak, M. (1994). Organisms as ecosystem engineers. Oikos, 69, 373–386.
Jones, C. G., Lawton, G. H., & Shachak, M. (1997). Ecosystem engineering by organisms: Why semantics matters. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 12, 275.

Maran, T. (2005?) ECOSEMIOTIC BASIS OF LOCALITY

Hoffmeyer, J. (1998). The Unfolding Semiosphere. In Gertrudis Van de Vijver, Stanley Salthe and Manuela Delpos (eds.), Evolutionary Systems. Biological and Epistemological Perspectives on Selection and Self-Organization. Dordrecht: Kluwer 1998, pp. 281-293.

h1

collaboratively narrated conceptual and geographical places

October 7, 2010

I was reading an article

THE LONG TAIL OF DESTINATION IMAGE AND ONLINE MARKETING
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.

h1

An Ontospatial Representation of Writing Narratives in Hybrid Ecosystem

August 29, 2010

Tomorrow i will be at 3rd International Workshop on Social and Personal Computing for
Web‐Supported Learning Communites, DEXA 2010, Bilbao