So I took a look at the activity theory reading for this week, and it’s figures were very reminiscent of something I’ve seen before: the triforce from The Legend of Zelda. There are three pieces of the triforce: the triforce of power (top), the triforce of wisdom (bottom left), and the triforce of courage (bottom right). Let’s compare this to the activity theory diagram, and let’s see what we can get and gain insights about this little exercise (I don’t know this in advance):

The top triangle in activity theory (paralleling the triforce of power): so the top triangle represents the relationship between the instruments, subject, and object. If this relationship were to mimic Zelda, then power comes through the relationships between these three aspects. Hmmm… by knowing these relationships, we are getting to know the people, and how they will become transformed by the object and the objects in their lives. OK… so how does the instrument come into play? Well, I guess by knowing what types of instruments are available to the designer to create the objects and the transformation of people, as that will affect what and how we can design. I guess that does create some sort of power, in the same sense power is used in the meta-analysis of this heuristic aid. It is the power to really know how you will change the people through what you design, possibly subjugating them, or freeing them.

The bottom left triangle (paralleling the triforce of wisdom): this triangle represents the relationships among subject, rules, and community. Well, wisdom to me is the utilization of prudence in crafting knowledge for others to be able to use at a later time. So… if we take a look at how rules affect people, we can be able to learn what type of world they live in. By knowing what type of world people live in, we can gain some insights on how their world is built and maybe what will happen if we change it. This will also help us to see how each subject fits into the community at large, and how rules play a part in the community, and also for the subject in that community. So far me, taking wise design decisions means that one studies these aspects of the people we are designing for, such that we don’t introduce any “planned” evils into their community, and also having a healthy knowledge of the rules they like to follow and live by. So I guess then being able to articulate activity theory in this light is kind of like the wisdom designers must be able to have in creating and executing on their designs.

And let’s take a look at the bottom right triangle (paralleling the triforce of courage): this relationship takes a look at the object made, the division of labor among people, and the community at large. As a designer, this area connotates to me to taking a look at how our design affects the system of the world at large. It is through the object that we create that we affect the world. Whether it is software or an artifact, this thing ends up changing how people work: from simply the people who have to build the thing, to seeing how that object potentially changes how much work each person in the workforce has to end up doing to get their job done (this can be for good or for bad) – and it also reminds me of the consequences of design Erik talks about. We need to be able to take the courage to live with our consequences of how this object will change how people will work (even play is considered work by some), and how this ends up affecting the community at large. Even something as “simple” as Photoshop has completely changed the amount of “courage” out there, as now it is a pre-req in order to do many things in the creative industry, which has transformed what objects that industry makes and whom can be involved in that industry as well. So I guess this analogy holds as well, which is epic, as I didn’t think this was going to semantically happen (just thought the lines would be the only thing that would hold).

So then this begs the question: was Link (and by Link, I mean the creators of The Legend of Zelda) knowledgeable on this topic when they were creating the triforce. Were the original makers of activity theory psychic enough to see the power behind this symbol to many gamers in life down the road. I guess the obvious answer is that this is a simple coincidence, but it would be cool if this had any impact whatsoever. And just like when all three parts come together, the goddesses of Zelda created the world and all of its people, design creates the world we end up living in when we put the triforces of activity theory together (after all, it’s just another tool we can use to help us design the world we live in). That’s some creative powers there!

I guess maybe a flip side of this is necessary, but I’m going to leave that open to the rest of the class.

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