Archive for the ‘semiotics’ Category


Chocolate example: self-organized symbol-generation

July 2, 2010

In Web 2.0 systems people constantly interpret the world using digital technology to capture their impressions and social media to spread them in Internet. They signify the world with the navigational cues for themselves and for the others to come.

For example Monica Stelly wrote:
Chocolate will never judge you.
Chocolate goes great with any occasion.
It is always there for you no matter the situation.
It is something you can count on to help solve your difficult problems.
Chocolate can help mend a broken heart.
Chocolate is good for the mind, body, and soul.

A sign is the basic unit of meaning, anything that stands for something else, each twit and picture is the sign for the narrated perception of the reality.

For example twits for:

I am almost liking Jaiku as the dark chocolate.

This city is gonna be a chocolate city at the end of the day.

Love dark chocolate on a bad day!

Sometimes even dark chocolate has no effect.

They convey the meaning ranging from (for more see this):

Chocolate as pleasure ….. Chocolate as comfort

Such personal narrative acts (twits, images, blog-posts) being uploaded to the web accumulate in dynamic self-organized narrative ecosystems.
Each narrative act, as well as, the whole narrative ecosystem can influence the symbol- and thereby the identity-generation of the communities through feedback loops.

Symbol refer to something associated with and standing for, representing, or identifying something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible. A symbol can be embued with rich layers of meanings. A symbol has a narrow or wide ranges of meanings limited to an individual or for a community or culture.

In Carl Jung’s view, a sign stands for something known, a symbol stands for something that is unknown and that cannot be made clear or precise (Wikipedia).

For example: Chocolate as a symbol of status (which kind you can afford) or Chocolate as the symbol of love (supposed aphrodisiac properties)

or the more recent chocolate and the politic manifest:
Is There Slavery In Your Chocolate?

STOCKHOLM – The official chocolate sold in connection with the Swedish Crown Princess’s wedding is produced with the help of child labour, a Swedish public radio report charged Friday.

Shared identity is based on shared symbols. In communities the personal variation in the understanding of the same sign as a symbol allows constant dynamism in the narrative ecosystem.

For example: Sometimes even dark chocolate has no effect.

(for removing sadness or for creating love?)

So i am eating dark chocolate but it may be for because i am in spleen and sadly and it is the last try, but will help for nothing, or i am excited and it pleasures me and i am in love.

Dark chocolate: pleasure or suicide?

At the same time, the symbols provide the constraints to the meaning of the signs that develop community identity. The symbols serve as the community niche – those symbol interpretations that are more frequently used by individuals as the meanings of their signs will determine the present state of the niche and influence how each individual interprets the available signs in narrative ecosystem.

Here are some navigational cues from the Twitter ecosystem with 3 dimensions: chocolate, pleasure, sadness:

eating Chocolate!!….my guilty pleasure *__* ♥ I Looooooveee chocolate!

Milk chocolate is pleasure for a moment with a fast death

choose chocolate over sex, theres no feelins involved except pleasure and no pain afterwards

Scientific research has proven that chocolate release the same amount of pleasure that sex.

Women who eat more chocolate find more pleasure sexually.

Kissing a chocolate might gives the highest pleasure

Ummm, chocolate indeed gives you more pleasure than kissing.

A bar of chocolate can actually reduce sadness. Says me

I wish I had a Belgian chocolate… this sadness is not going to go away on its own, you know!

chocolate cures broken hearts and sadness! (:

The empty sad hole in my heart needs to be filled with chocolate cement.

70%of women prefer to eat chocolate than have sex.

You make me sad. SUPER SAD! Way to break my heart! You owe me baked goods or chocolate now.


I was reading the paper that triggered the ideas above:

Emergence of self-organized symbol-based communication in artificial creatures
Action editor: Ron Sun
Angelo Loula, Ricardo Gudwin, Charbel Nin˜o El-Hani, Joa˜o Queiroz
Cognitive Systems Research 11 (2010) 131–147

Loula et al. (2010) created a digital behavioral ecology that allowed the emergence of self-organized symbol-based communication of artificial creatures. Such creatures inhabit a virtual world of unpredictable predatory events and behave as autonomous agents that can learn symbolic relations in an unsupervised manner, with no explicit feedback, and are able to engage simultaneously in dynamical and autonomous communicative interactions with other creatures.

Their main finding was:
In virtual worlds the artificial creatures, assuming the role of sign users and learners, learn symbolic relations in an unsupervised manner, with no explicit feedback and behave collectively as a complex adaptive system, where local self-organized communicative interactions play a major role in the emergence of symbol-based communication at macro level (Loula et al., 2010).

Signs may be viewed as competing entities trying to spread through a community of sign users.

A sign is anything that stands for something else.

The creatures behave as sign exchangers, which reproduce the learned signs, making them able to be used by other creatures, as signs disseminate in the community.

The self-organization is based on positive and negative feedback loops: the more a sign is used the more the creatures reinforce it (and weaken others), and, as a result, the frequency of usage of that sign increases (and others decrease); in turn, the less a sign is used the less it is reinforced, and, consequently, its usage decreases.

The stronger the sign association is, the more it will be used, and the more it is used, the more it will be reinforced. This positive feedback loop allows the self-organization of the community sign repertoire, with alarm-referent associations getting stronger, making it possible that, at some point, signs become symbols.

A symbol may have more than one meaning.
Symbols may have very narrow or quite wide ranges of meaning. The range may be limited to an individual, or perhaps to a small group. People other than the individual or group will not understand that meaning of the symbol. A symbol’s range may be cultural.

The system can be seen as moving in a state space defined as composed of all individual sign repertoires.

The system moves from point to point each time a creature adjusts its repertoire, i.e. when learning takes place. In this search space, attractors are defined as points in which all individual repertoires converge to a common one, thus stabilizing the system.

In this self-organizing system, a systemic process (symbol-based communication), as much as a global pattern (a common repertoire of symbols), emerges from local communicative interactions, without any external or central control. This complex system of communicative creatures can be viewed as a semiotic system of symbol-based communication with three different hierarchical levels.

The semiotic processes of symbol-based communication emerge at the focal level through the interaction of a microsemiotic level, containing a repertoire of potential sign, object, and interpretant relations within an interpreter or an utterer, and a macro-semiotic level, amounting to a self-organized network of all communication processes that occurred and are occurring. It is in this hierarchical system that things in the environment become elements in triadic-dependent processes, i.e., signs come to be associated with objects in such a manner that their relationship depends on the mediation of a learned association (i.e., they become symbols).

The environment also plays an essential role in the system dynamics by providing physical contextual constraints (visual cues). When potential sign relations are actualized, the environment in which the semiotic system is situated will establish specific constraints for the utterer’s sign production and for the interpreter’s sign interpretation (any surrounding entity). The system’s history at the macrosemiotic level establishes constraints for the system’s dynamics, which can be treated as boundary conditions, being the system variability reduced with utterers using established signs in its associative memory, and interpreters being able to use the same repository to interpret alarms, which ultimately become symbols.


Semiosphere and affordances, talking with Wilma Clark

January 14, 2009

Yesterday evening I spent three hours with Wilma Clark from London to chat in Tartu University cafe about mutual research interests. Wilma happened to read my blog some time ago and while visiting Tartu she proposed to meet – another great example of how web-based contacts really work!

Wilma is currently in Tartu to write her PhD thesis. She is using Lotman’s semiosphere model to explain how technology changes learning spaces for teachers and learners. Wilma has recently translated in English Lotman’s book Culture and explosion which i referred earlier, it will appear soon. Her other translation is Lotman’s Semiosphere.

Wilma and her associates have in press quite interesting paper of school students’ preferences of technology use in Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (2009), 25, 56–69

Beyond Web 2.0: mapping the technology landscapes of young learners
W. Clark, K. Logan, R. Luckin, A. Mee & M. Oliver

In this paper they have used the boundary idea (similiar to Lotman’s semiosphere model) to analyze learning with technology in formal and informal settings.

From my own research perspective they used similar mapping technology as i have done, only at school level.
Secondly, in the questionnaire they have analyzed the tool use in activities using dimesionality: Can use, Can use, but are not allowed to use, Cannot use. Why this is interesting to me?
This can also be interpreted from the learning affordance aspect: we have often discussed with Mart Laanpere that affordances that some tool can be used for certain activities are same important as affordances (perception) that this tool is hindering (is not useful) for certain activity. So affordance can be described using the two-directional (Lickert?) scale (supportive and hindering).

Another interesting idea triggered from this paper: This perceptional feeling that something is common to certain user group in certain activities and hindering (not useful) or align in other activities enables to start using Lotmans semiosphere model together with affordance conception. Lotman plays in his model with the semiosphere in which always dual structure is created and perceived, and the border line between common to me(my community) and align to me(my community) is flexibly defined in the course of action. I think what concerns culture of the community that is related with similar community-specific activities, the affordances might serve as a useful term in defining this borderline.

It is a pity that in this paper the results of shifting borders between formal and informal learning tools (PLEs) are not presented visually keeping the semiosphere model in mind (or at least it is not so implicit).

From their report
Learners’ use of Web 2.0 technologies in and out of school in Key Stages 3 and 4 i found a good illustration to formal/informal borders (Figure 12).

Borderline between formal and informal space when using web 2.0 tools for learning

Borderline between formal and informal space when using web 2.0 tools for learning

What might be very interesting is not mapping the boundary for the community or class, but start seeing how the boundary is flexibly shifted in Personal Learning Environments (PLE) in formal and informal settings. I believe that the tasks and activities people do in PLE do not have much overlap in formal and informal settings in our classrooms, and practically the learners’ PLE components that exists in informal settings become align in formal settings from the teachers’ perception perspective. However, the students might feel tension and wish to use their PLE tools in formal settings.

We also briefly discussed with Wilma, is it good or bad if there is some overlap of learning space perception in school and outside the school, which enables translation in the dual parts of the semiosphere model – or alternatively, maybe total lack of overlap between perceived and expected affordances in formal and informal settings would create even better conditions for creation? To understand this idea Lotman’s words are the best:

Lotman wrote (in my free translation) in Culture and explosion:

Normal communication between people and normal communication between languages presumes the non-identity of the sender and the receiver. In this case it is normal that the language-space of the sender A and receiver B are partially intersected. Communication is impossible if A and B do not intersect, the total intersection (A and B are identical) changes communication meaningless. Permitted is, therefore, partial overlap of spaces, while at the same time two tendencies will be in action: while streaming towards mutual understanding, the overlapped area is tried to be increased, in order to raise the merit of the message, the difference between A and B must be increased. Therefore, to describe normal communication in languages, we must bring in the concept of tension, the contradiction between the certain forces between spaces A and B.
The overlapped space of A and B becomes their natural area of communication. At the same time the areas that do not overlap seem to be switched off the dialogue. Here we stumble to one more contraversity: communication at overlapped area is trivial. It occurrs that not the overlapped area is of high meaning for the dialogue, but the exchange of information between the areas of no overlap. We can assume that translation of non-translable becomes the carrier of information with high merits. In the area of overlap, between languages that are similar the translation is easy, between the different languages (e.g. poetry and music) it is difficult and creates ambiguent meanings. Not understanding between languages is same valuable as understanding.

The relationships between the translable and non-translable are so complex that they create possibilities for breakthrough to the space beyond the borders. This function is fulfilled by the explosions, that create windows to the space beyond the language borders.


Elaborating Connectivism framework: deepening the ecological focus

September 17, 2008

This chapter draft describes the web of social software tools with its inhabitants as an evolving and ecological environment, discussing and elaborating the Connectivist framework coined by George Siemens in his book Knowing Knowledge. This new perspective to ecological learning in social software environments resides on the ideas of Gibson‘s and his followers approach to ecological psychology, the rising theory of embodied simulation and the Lotman’s ideas from cultural semiotics.

It appeared in:

Pata, K. (2009). Revising the framework of knowledge ecologies: how activity patterns define learning spaces? In Niki Lambropoulos & Margarida Romero (Eds.), Educational Social Software for Context-Aware Learning: Collaborative Methods & Human Interaction. IGI Global imprints.


Ecological aspects for learning theory of new Digital Age

March 25, 2008

Recently, the widespread public use of social software has triggered for the need to theoretically ground the learning phenomena in this new environment.

Siemens (2005) has suggested Connectivism as the learning theory for new Digital Age. Connectivism focuses on how information, situated externally from people in the web, and creating meanings publicly in social software environments, aids through connective processes the new creative learning- and knowledge-building cultures.

Besides information-centred view to learning, what Connectivism carries, the other view should explain how learning is triggered by the involvement into the activities or by the observation of the activities of other individuals and groups. This view suggests that embodied cognition could be also considered as part of our knowledge.

Thus, while modelling the learning theories the new social software environments call for, an activity centred view to learning would be of same importance as the information-centred view, and should be theoretically entwined with the latter.

In order to extract the new principles of learning, while considering the activities that are part of the digital culture in social software environments, the web of social software tools with its inhabitants as an evolving and ecological environment must be described. The interrelations between individuals, and the real and virtual places they adopt for themselves in the process of manifesting their ideas, and engaging themselves into various learning activities in self-directed manner should be theoretically explained. This new ecological perspective to learning in social software environments can reside on the ideas of Gibson‘s and his followers approach to ecological psychology, elaborated approach of Engeström’s Activity Theory, rising theory of embodied cognition, but also on the Lotman’s school of cultural semiotics.

Some aspects to be considered and elaborated:

It is generally accepted that learning and tools used by certain culture from one side, and individuals of this culture and their learning and tool-using habits from another side, are influencing and shaping each other mutually (see Vygotsky, 1979). By definition the more social software tools are used, the better they become adjusted to the cultural habits of their users. The more user-defined interrelations between the meanings exist and can be activated by certain social-software specific microformats, the better the systems get for social retrieval of information. The more users‘ activities in social environments are externally marked by the users, for example with machine-readable formats describing people, the links between them and the things they create and do (FOAF), the better the access to the activity-related information and people becomes. The positive side effect of it is also, that the systems obtain new qualities for monitoring and getting awareness, that would open the gateway to the otherwise non-traceble communities in which the members are not personally related into social networks through shared activities. They may or may not have an awareness of each other, but they share similar meanings or perform same type of activities. Access to such people in new environments is potentially opening a multi-dimensional place where individuals can learn from each other or where shared group activities can be initiated for learning purposes. The more people get involved into the similar activities while evoking for themselves certain functions the social tools offer, the stronger the pressure gets of developing the systems towards facilitating this activity, and the more this activity becomes part of the learning culture in this environment.

This presumes the ecological relationships between people and their objectives for action in certain learning environments, and the personally differentiated perception of meanings and tools in their surrounding environments which would all-together dynamically shape the social software environments as places for learning. In particular, the focus is on how social software systems become accommodated with their users through evoking different affordances in the environment, discussing the multi-dimensionality and dynamicity of such places, and explaining how creativity and active participation are triggered in these places ecologically through different types of interactions.

The inhabitants of social web are characterised as distributed selves between different real and virtual social spaces. They express their identity as part of indistinct activity patterns, involving different social tools and different people. They influence social environments by virally spreading ideas that weave people and social places into invisible meaning dimensions. They leave activity traces as cultural prompts for new similar activities within certain dimension of the environment. The personal meaning-space and activity-space may be or may not be transcendent for the other individual learners in the web if the learner is distributing one‘s self between different social software tools.

The awareness of different dimensions of the social web as places for creative learning is obtained by perceiving the other inhabitants of social web as similarly distributed wholes. Tracing the meaning-spaces and activity patterns of other people twined between the distributed real and virtual places they inhabit, the dimensions of social space become unfolded and usable for our own self-directed learning.

Two aspects here are important. The meaning centred aspect suggests to use distributed self to be aware of more communities and their meaning spaces, and to create conditions for transferring information from one conceptual dimension to another. This precondition for cross-border meaning-building activities has been focused both in cultural semiotics as well as in the theory of Connectivism. Weaving one’s own coherent meaning web on top of such connections in distributed places is part of learning practices individuals do in social web to propagate their own self. Second aspect is finding people to learn together with. To be involved in the similar activities, similar spaces need to be used for interaction. The activities the members of such lose communities get engaged with, do not necessarily have to be centrally coordinated, but rather may emerge and exist as social patterns.

Learning through meaning building, and learning from participating in socially shared activities can be explained all together as part of emergent hybrid ecologies. The architecture of such environments interrelates various meaning dimensions, activity dimensions, and the distributed selves. By distributed self people can access different dimensions, propagate their meanings and activities into these dimensions, and use crossing borders of different dimensions for creative knowledge-building, as well as, for embodying and embedding cultural practices of new social web.


Socio-cultural and ecological explanations to self-reflection

February 10, 2008

I was reading this sunday morning the chapter from the Cambridge Handbook of Sociocultural Psychology (2007) by (eds.) Jaan Valsiner and Alberto Rosa:

Social basis of self-reflection
by Alex Gillespie


Since i have been thinking in terms of inter-subjectivity, activity theory and cultural semiotics earlier, while now my understanding has more and more shifted towards the embodied cognition and hybrid ecology ideas, i tried to see where my standing-point is and where it differs from socio-cultural ideas.

It seems to me that the basic idea in this chapter is recognizing that signs (but then also tools, since both are mediators of action what person needs to realize his objectives in an environment?) are created during culturally constrained actions as multi-perspective and inter-subjective representations, including both the actor’s and the observer’s experiences of that action.

Gillespie suggests that in different social acts we will get experiences of the both sides of the act in lifetime (learner/teacher, giving/receiving), so we can activate these perspectives simultaneously when the we need to create/activate a mediator (sign, tool) to carry out any act.

The re-using of the signs means activating these embodied experiences and switching between these multiple perspectives when using certain sign either alone or with the others in interaction.

In Gillespie’s elaboration i can see direct relations with embodied cognition and mirror-matching theories: these theories assume that we need to experience something, embody it, and only then we can observe others doing it so that it might reactivate our similar neural processes. But embodied cognition has not dealt with this constant activation of different experiences simultaneously – my own perspective as an actor, and the other’s perspective as an observer of that action.

Secondly, in embodied cognition the representational mediation, the processing of signs that represent something is excluded, and the observation, hearing or reading can directly activate sensory-motor paths that make as feel and act.

Following Gillespie, and relating it how i understand these issues, in case of conscious self-reflective activities we might simultaneously activate several previously embodied affordances of the environment (extracted dimensionalities) to do something what we wish to do (eg. my experience of learning and also my experience of teaching), then we are running these sensory-motor activations in parallel/simultaneously/one-by-one that means as a result that we sometimes suppress some affordances in the environment that we initially perceived as coupling with our anticipated affordances for doing some actions.

Rupture and the use of internalized actions as part of self-reflection in this case are the constraints we put to the anticipated affordances of actions internally before even trying to carry them out. Can it be like conscious hindering certain sensory-motor neural activation patterns as part of our decision-making of what act to perform?

Mirroring from others and the social conflict are the constraints emerging from the environment as the response to find/make use our anticipated affordances of action. It means we consciously accommodate our sensory-motor activation paths ecologically, searching in other people, in the environment for coupling affordances of our anticipated affordances for action and hindering those sensory-motor activation paths that do not find the match to become activated.

These are some ideas what i got reading the following parts from the Gillespie’s article:

Self-reflection can be defined as temporary phenomenological experience in which self becomes an object to oneself.

People use semiotic mediators, or signs by which they pick out certain affective experiences or situations, thus distancing themselves from both self and immediate situation. These signs are combined into complex semiotic systems (representations, discourses, cultural artifacts, symbolic resources), that provide even greater liberation from the immediate situation.

Such distance enables self to act upon self and the situation.

Four socio-cultural theories of the origin of self-reflection:

1. Rupture theories of self-reflection posit that self-reflection arises when one’s path of action becomes blocked or when one faces a decision of some sort.

Peirce: A problematic situation. a small irritation or rupture stimulates reflective thought (1978/1998).

Dewey (1896): in ruptured situations the object becomes subjective because the actor has two or more responses toward the object, and the self-reflection arises.
However, from Pavlov’s experiments it is shown that contradictory responses can co-exist without leading to self-reflection.

According to Piaget (1970) the problem situation forces the child to abstract and recognize his/her developing schemas when these schemas lead to unfulfilled expectations.

It was not clear from this explanation, why semiotic mediators must be stimulated.

2. Mirror theories of self-reflection suggest that the defining feature in self-reflection is the presence of an other.

The other perceives more about self-reflection than self can perceive.
The reflective distance from self which self-reflection entails first exist in the mind of other. This can be fed back to self by other, such that self can learn self from the perspective of other (Bakhtin 1923/1990).
Other provides feedback to the self same as mirror provides feedback about our appearance that we cannot perceive unaided.

The society can be a mirror as well, leading to self-reflection (Cooley, 1902). According to him, self is a social product formed out of our appearance to the other person, the imagination of his judgement of that appearance, and some sort of self-feeling such as pride or mortification.
Cooly always related self-reflection with judgements leading to emotions such as pride, shame, guilt etc.

Questions: How does self take the perspective of the other? Is other a passive mirror, neutrally reflecting back to self?

3. Conflict theories of self-reflection suggest that self-reflection arises through social struggle.

Hegel: self-consciousness arises through gaining recognition from an other who is not inferior to self. Self and other treat each other as physical objects, and thus deny any recognition to each other. Due to this denial they enter into a struggle, the outcome of which is the relation of domination and subordination, that is master-slave relation. The slave can get recognition from the master but not vice versa. Slave struggles for recognition, developing new skills and competences. Self-onsciousness arises from struggling for recognition.

Psaltis & Duveen: Explicit recognition of new acquired knowledge by other and self is needed for durable cognitive development through interaction – the interaction needs to provide mutual self-reflection.

Sigel’s (2002) Psychological Distancing Theory asserts that discrepancies introduced by utterances of others can put a cognitive demand on the child which can in turn lead to representational work and thus distancing.

Activity Theory (Engeström, 1987) assumes that problematic situation includes problems introduced by the perspective of others. Participants within an activity system prompt each other to reflect upon the conditions and rules of their ongoing interaction. Thus contradictions between different counterparts of an activity system lead to reflection.

Social representation theory (Duveen) emphasizes that there are contradictions in the bodies of knowledge that is circulated in modern societies. Bauer and Gaskell (1999) suggest that people become of aware of the representations at the points at which they overlap or contradict each other. This coexistence of multiple forms of knowledge in the society can lead to self-reflection.

Similarly to rupture theories, it is not clear through which semiotic processes self-reflection arises.

4. Internalization theories of self-reflection posit that thought is a self-reflective internal dialogue with absent others, between their internalized perspectives.

Self-reflection arises through internalizing the perspectives that the other has upon self, followed by self taking the perspectives of other upon self.

Vygotsky (1997) emphasized that the process of internalization is a process of transformation rather than simple transmission. Signs are first used to mediate the behaviours of others, and later used to talk about self, reflect upon self, and mediate the behaviour of self.

Mead and Vygotsky conceive the sign (or significant symbol) as comprising two perspectives – the actor perspective and the observer perspective.

On one hand, there is the embodied actor perspective (the response) to some object (the child reaches hand to point to an object she wants to get). On the other hand, there is the distance introduced by the observer perspective of the other on the action (mother sees the grasping gesture indicating desire to get the object). The grasping becomes pointing when the child uses both of these perspectives.

Thus the sign (significant symbol) is fundamentally inter-subjective: it evolves both actor and observer perspectives in both self and other.

Questions: if the sign is composite of the perspective of self and other, how does this composite form, how are these two perspectives brought together.

Gillespie (2005) now starts to generate his own theory. He relies on the Mead’s theory of the social act suggesting that people move amongst the positions with a relatively stable social/institutional structure (host/guest, buyer/seller).

Each social act pairs (eg. giving/receiving, teaching/learning) entails reciprocal actor and observer positions and perspectives which mots people have enacted. They have previously been in these social positions of the other. Thus we are able to take these perspectives in each social act. The self becomes dialogical, containing multiple social perspectives for each act.

The social act is the institution that first provides individuals with roughly equivalent actor and observer experiences, and second, integrates these perspectives within the minds of individuals. When both actor and observer perspectives are evoked within a significant symbol (or sign) /like in gesture/, then there is a self-reflection, because self is both self and other simultaneously.

Gillespie calls self-reflection triggered by an actor perspective self-mediation and the self-reflection triggered by an observer perspective on an actor short-circuiting.

Gillespie assumes that different socio-cultural theories of self-reflection are not in opposition, but rather theorize different proximal paths leading towards self-reflection.

The magic of social act is that it integrates the actor and the observer experiences or perspectives into the formation of signs enabling higher level of semiotic mediation. Conceiving of the sign as this integration of perspectives elucidates the logic of self-reflection.

Whenever one uses the sign it can carry self from one perspective to another continuously.
Introducing the concept of sign (significant symbol) as a complex semiotic system entails abandoning the assumption that complex semiotic systems mirror the world. Instead, it conceptualizes these semiotic systems as architectures of inter-subjectivity, which enable translations between actor and observer perspectives within a social act.

Any narrative is not just a narrative that is analogical to self’s own experience, it is an inter-subjective structure that enables translations between actor and observer perspectives. Partially integrated actor and observer perspectives are the pre-condition for self-reflection. Rupture, feedback, and social conflict can cause self-reflection because of a pre-ecxisting and only partially integrated architecture of inter-subjectivity.


distributed self

November 5, 2007

One of the phenomena in web 2.0 is keeping distributed self.

We all invade various spaces: weblogs, twitter, jaiku, flickr, youtube, social bookmarking spaces etc.
What these distributed spaces enable us to do, is to keep our personality in multiple places at the same time and variate our presence in different modalities.

The result of keeping distributed self increases likelihood that my external knowlege, my artifacts, my meanings, my activity patterns will be noticed, modified and duplicated.

Keeping distributed self keeps us in touch with different communities.

Being simultaneously in different communities enables us to bring information across the borders of the communities, initating semiosis, enabling us to constantly create new knowledge.

The maintenance of distributed self has also become external – we tend to feed together our distributed spaces into aggregators or weblogs in order to feel as a whole and observe our external presence. In these places (hubs) where our distributed knowledge meets again, we propagate ourselves as the connectors between the communities.

Can we create in these spaces as well? If we mix our distributed self with the knowledge of our community members (like in microblogging feeds of Jaiku or Twitter), these mashed feeds may work as triggers for writing new blog entries. They enable us to access knowledge community-wise and transfer it to our other community spaces.

The social media starfish is a good representation of our distributed self. Another idea of digital and distributed self is here.

There is also an article by Stanton Wortham about distributed self – The Heterogeneously Distributed Self (2007)
Journal of Constructivist Psychology, Volume 12, Issue 2, March 1999, pages 153-172.

Article explains that heterogeneous distribution can be applied to the self.
The self is heterogeneously distributed because a coherent self emerges from the interconnection of structures of diverse sorts, which together facilitate the experience and manifestation of a coherent identity.

Performative account of self: self emerges when person repeatedly adopts characteristic positions, with respect of others and within recognizable cultural patterns, in everyday social action (Butler, 1990).

The author suggests locating self in several different types of structures, including performative, psychological and other patterns.

For example the author writes how there will be interaction between our past and present self in autobiographical narratives.

This makes me think, if we reflect in weblog – do we also talk with our past and present self in order to create some coherence?


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’)


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.

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


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?
———————- 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…