Acting with Technology: Activity Theory and Interaction Design http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0262513315?ie=UTF8&tag=ozten-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0262513315
Most people go to Daytona for Spring Break
I read this book on Activity Theory Activity theory gives you an Framework and some analytical tools for thinking about Web Development in a broader perspective
Previous sentence suggest is was wize I didn&#x2019;t go to Daytona Beach for spring break
Web Science tells us people are part of the equation Psychology and other external sources are ripe. We tend to focus too much on code and features. We need a theory for understanding Social and Sensors. I think Activity Theory can be useful in guiding one's focus
It's so easy to get lost in a single tool, but 21C centruary web development is about people, sensors, and a bigger picture.
The main advantage of activity theory is in determining which components and functionalities the system should provide. It stresses big picture thinking. After reading this book and thinking from an Activity Theory perspective, I was left with some pretty trippy metaphysics. Theory is easier to grok from a historical perspective.
Lev Vygotsky created the field of Educational Psychology during his 10 years career, not to shabby. Died of tuberculosis at 37.
We learn from each other. All inventions and discoveries are pregnant in society before they are internalized by the individual. Story telling like the Wright brothers inventing flight are critical to learning and communication, but aren&#x2019;t accurate records of history.
Scott Berkun &#x201C;The Myths of Innovation&#x201D;
You can measure someone&#x2019;s current proficiency and grade them But a missing piece is to measure someone&#x2019;s proficiency against material beyond their reach with the support of peers and mentors
This leads to the Constructivist educational system, Alan Kay, and Object-Oriented Programming, the Laptop, and other important things from the 70's.
Leontiev studied under Vygotsky. Aleksei Leontiev systematically studied the evolution of the human psyche. What is reality? What is life? In Reality there is only activity. There is only needs, motives, and a subject using objects. Photo: http://www.comnet.ca/~pballan/AT.htm
Subjects are alive and fulfill biological or cultural needs through physical or constructed objects. The psudeopod may have less complexity than Susan Blackmore, but they are both &#x201C;alive&#x201D;. There is no magic sauce added that makes humans &#x201C;intelligent&#x201D;. It&#x2019;s a natural pile-on of complexity that adds more and more Agency to the Subject. In this way, objects such as memes are as real as sea sponges. Photos: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Velvetwormonleaf.gif http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/
Phew we've made it to the 80's. SO diagram -> expanded Yrjo Engestr&#xF6;m into this triange. It&#x2019;s like Dayona Beach... for your mind. Engestrom stressed the context of activity. When creating web applications, we need to think broadly and look at organizational, cultural, and external technical factors.
Development - Research must be conducted against a moving target (web analytics) Internal - External is along two scales. Social (individual verses collective), Physical (internal versus external) and Let's drill down on the concepts on the right
AT breaks down Activity into these hierarchical layers Goals, Tasks, and Operations. A subject has many goals, some conflicting An activity may serve many goals Tasks may have sub-tasks A task may have many operations Operations are tiny, insignificant automatic actions such as creating a new text file. Or &#x201C;liking&#x201D; something, etc.
Agency - Subjects have Agency. It&#x2019;s a sliding scale from Chess AI to Fish to Humans
Activity does not exist without Objects Example using the Firefox web browser&#x2019;s AwesomeBar feature: Construction - Initially conceptualized, imagined, discussed, and then realized Instantiation - Now routinely used when you type in the address bar Linking - often referenced when constructing new Firefox Objects - &#x201C;Imagine a feature like the Awesome Bar, but for your Address Book Contacts&#x201D;
Average driver is in a NASCAR like state of flow. When you were first learning, you had to put all your attention into the gear stick to shift. When you rent a car and it has a funky shifter, you&#x2019;ll need to temporarily divert your attention to shift.
Internalization is learning and improves efficiency
Another idea in Activity theory is the connectedness of people and things which combine like Voltron to create a new organ.
Add-ons are real. No I mean really real!
Activity Theory explains why some social networks rule and others fall down. Flickr provides rich tools, objects, and roles such as Curation.
Jyri Engstrom, son of Yrjo Engstrom and creater of Jaiku talks about SocialObjects and why Linkedin has weak objects. A social graph alone is pointless.
Kaptelinin (1999). Methods & tools: The activity checklist: a tool for representing the space" of context. interactions, 6(4):27-39.
When using the Activity Checklist and your new Activity Theory perspective, these are some strategies you might apply to a web application.
Activity Theory is not a black and white set of rules, but a framework for understanding.
2 slides left, so here are some Meta-Physics
Empirical research is embedded in Activity. Wood is softer than my axe. Marble is harder than my axe. Axe - a tool with thousands of years of understanding encoded into it&#x2019;s physical shape and cultural meaning.
In a literal sense, your text editor is part of you.
Although empirical research is &#x201C;objective&#x201D; it&#x2019;s still relative to objects which are themselves subject to development, are only used because they motivate us. Which parts of reality are we blind to, because they are of no use to us?
420 BRO - A little more brain candy to hook you on Activity Theory Language and tools are the crystallization of activity. All life is just activity Use the AT triange to broaden your mental landscape when hacking the web.
Activity Theory in 20 slides
in 20 Slides
State of the Web
Software in 21C
Data + Algorithms + People
Code and Features -> Think Bigger
It’s all Social and Sensors
What’s the Point
Gathering Requirements from a Humanistic POV
Activity Theory doesn’t replace
Suggests trippy Metaphysics
Noone has ever invented anything ?!?
All higher mental functions appear ﬁrst on the
interpsychological plane and then on the
Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934)
because it’s social ﬁrst, then individual.
The Zone of Proximal Development
The distance between the actual
developmental level as determined by
independent problem solving and the level of
potential development as determined through
problem solving under adult guidance, or in
collaboration with more capable peers.
No Child Left Behind to take a test Alone
Life = Activity
Aleksei Leontiev 1978
Aleksey Leontiev (1904-1979) sat down and tried to
document the evolution of the human mind. Woah.
In Soviet Russia, Theory Activates You
Subject has needs
Objects provide motives
Needs to understand Memes
Activity in Context
Subject Object Outcome
Roles (and rules) Community Division of Labor
Yrjö Engeström 1987
Activity Theory is...
[Arrested] Development Activities are Hierarchical
Interpsychological vs Agency
Mental processes vs Internal vs External
Mediation (Functinal Organs)
Elements of Activity
Level Element Execution Example
High Level Goal Intentional
Low Level Operation Automatic New IDL
Actors have Agency
•Power over objects
•Attraction to objects
Objects have a Lifecycle
External <--> Internal (Learning)
Tools mediate reality to accomplish Goals
This becomes internalized enough to be considered an
This becomes internalized so far that it’s an operation
Student Driver New Car Average Driver
Goal Task Operation
Internal <--> External (repair)
Externalization of operations helps others learn
Any temporary combination of internal and external
forces which is capable of attaining a deﬁnite end
Eyeglasses Text Editors
Add-ons Continuos Integration Env
Schemas Programming Languages
Activity Theory describes
It’s bigger than CODE Tools
Subject Object Outcome
Roles (and rules) Community Division of Labor
Activity Checklist is a useful analytical tool
List of questions in 4 categories
Development (of application)
Drive requirements from User Goals
Allow for reuse with other sites/tools
Allow users to capture goals and tasks into a visual
representation to aid their memory
App terminology should mirror user’s mental model of
Be inherently social, allowing for subjects, roles, rules,
Be generative instead of prescriptive
Take resistance to technology changes into account
The Border between the mind and
the physical world is not closed
Trippy Metaphysics (cont)
The Mind is a stream of social artifacts, each artifact is
constructed between people acting in the world and
then gradually internalized until it is indistinguishable
from the mind
Reality is a consensual hallucination built out of
thousands of years of Activity. Each perception of
reality is unique, but neither accurate or necessary for
the existence of external reality