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In class on Thursday I was getting caught up on the word “Identity” and I’d like to use this post to discuss different meanings of identity.

Jeff wrote “Difference vs Identity” on the board refering to structuralism and phenomenology* where difference stood for the idea that nothing has meaning in itself but rather only has meaning when it is in a network and creates oppositions where was Identity was the idea that someone or something had inherent properties, it has an essence, and this was not dependent on context.

So how does this idea of Identity as essentialism relate back to the idea of ones personal identity? For me, the two are very interrelated. Identity in the essentialism way states that I have some sort of Katie-ness which is intact even when my context changes. However, I think that my Katie-ness is constructed based on my past experiences. It is what we experience in life that shapes our lifeworld. If my lifeworld changes do I still have the same essences as Katie? How do these two relate to each other?

In class, Jeff seemed to have a fairly strong stand on this, although we didn’t really get into his thoughts on it. I’m curious what others in the class thought about this. Can we separate who we are from our lifeworld and experiences? How do they related to each other? Do they relate to each other? What exactly is the difference between Identity and Identity?

* Can Phenomenology and Hermeneutics be used interchangeably? I’ve been using them interchangeably but I’m not sure if there is some subtle difference between the two that I missed…


In class we were asked to pick a concept from Lowgren’s paper “Articulating the Use Qualities of Digital Designs” and find an interaction example of it.

I chose seductivity and to illustrate it – Scribblenauts.

What parts of Scribblenauts are seductive?

– the name, the ending “-nauts” reminds me of Jason and the Argonauts, which reminds me of epic adventures and mythical beings

– for me, the most seductive thing is the ability to summon forth any being into existence. So all you have to do is think of something, write it, and then see if it appears

– or if you’re extra-curious get out a dictionary, start at the letter “A” and see how many things (nouns) you can summon into existence

– once you’ve summoned these things into existence you can either interact with them, or have them interact with each other, either to complete some goal, or just to see what happens. Who will win in a fight between a T-rex and a “train of pandas riding on a bicycle”? Can your bazooka destroy a bunch of bottles (yes it can)? What about a kangaroo with a fishing rod tied to his body, it’s up to you to find out

– its seductivity power is so strong that people will take the time to write or press each tiny, individual letter just to see what happens

– it’s seductive because it fulfills curiosity gradually, each time you satiate one curiosity (like seeing a Kraken) then you’ll be curious to see what else you can summon or bring forth

– it creates an emotional response of curiosity and excitement as well as disbelief at the spectacle that is unfolding

People have ideas about how things behave and what those things are, this game allows you to explore how these entities and objects will behave in different contexts. It lets you explore your mental models of what something is. For example, how strong is a Kraken? Is a Kraken stronger than Godzilla? Is Godzilla stronger than Death?

The class challenge: Is there some object that is so foreign that we cannot find a “way in”? Is there ever a place where we don’t have horizons?

Conclusion on 10/28/10: It is impossible to have no horizons; we always have some relation to something; our horizons help us interpret an object; there is always a way in to something

Imagine this is true … that within your head is “some bit of knowledge” that can help you relate to some object, no matter how strange or foreign that object appears.

So here’s the visual culture object I’d like you to relate to: a film clip from The Lost Weekend. I have heard some recovering alcoholics say that this is a realistic portrayal of what it’s like to be an alcoholic; this is an example of an alcoholic’s alcoholic.

But, and here is where it gets interesting to me: I have heard some Alcohol & Drug counselors argue that you can’t counsel or help an alcoholic unless you’ve been one … so they would disagree with Gadamer; they would say there is no way in to the life-world of an alcoholic unless you’ve been one and been through it. Watching a film, reading a book, observing, talking with an alcoholic, won’t work — to understand an alcoholic’s life-world you must have lived it.

So, I’m wondering, is it possible for a non-alcoholic to find a way in to the world of an alcoholic? What might a non-alcoholic say to convince an Alcohol & Drug counselor that they could understand the life-world of an alcoholic?

I’m not sure if what I’m asking and wondering is related to Gadamer exactly, but I do know that there are many films and objects that attempt to give viewers a glimpse into the life-worlds of others. I guess I’m still not convinced that there is always a way in to everything.

Here’s the film clip:

Clive Bell says

To “appreciate a work of art we need bring with us nothing from life, no knowledge of its ideas and affairs, no familiarity with its emotions” (Barnard,p. 171)

I find it strange that the above is considered to be a weakness. To see something with no attachments or associations, to look at an object as if one had never seen it before seems instead to be a strength. If one looks upon an object and sees (not the object) but the associations that the object brings to one’s consciousness, then are all objects perceived nothing more than the summation of the individual’s associations and attachments?

And what about the object itself? If you put too much attention towards associations and attachments, then some type of reality or quality inherent to the object might be ignored or forgotten.

It seems better to look and detach from one’s mind every association, good, bad, and neutral. So that one can see the object as if they have never seen it before.

After reading some drafts of others’ papers, hearing all the ideas, and then going through the painful yet rewarding process of writing my own paper, I realized something.  It would almost be a shame for me to NOT read everyone’s final paper.  I have learned so much from hearing other people’s perspectives and ideas this semester that I crave some more. Maybe that sounds loony but so be it.  Or perhaps some others feel the same.

In any case, this is a call to everyone to share their papers here.  Casey has already put his up, and mine can be downloaded here.  I look forward to seeing some great perspectives!

We talked about the hammering in class and the article was very interesting. Of course, the carpenters pay more attention to the hammering. However, they will need to think about the hammerness first because they will have to make a decision on which hammers they need to use. The carpenters, I assume, have different kinds of hammers and other tools. Now they want to make a chair. Before starting to make a chair, they will gather all the tools they need in making a chair. When they prepare the tools, they may have to think about the hammerness. Of course, they do not want to use a small hammer to drive a big nail. They will use bigger and stronger hemmers for bigger nails. So… I guess they think about the hammerness first, and once they started making the chair, they are “hammering”.

When I was writing above, I guess I was not thinking about the keyboardness. (or typingness.. haha) I was not thinking about how the keyboards are composed or what keys do. I just started typing to write on this blog.

After the class, it was interesting to see that most of the time, we do not think about the “hammerness”, but just hammering. It would be really great if we can design something and users, at all, do not care about the “hammerness”. However, would it be really possible? I hope later I can really design something that the users can just start hammering…

When I was watching the Jurassic Park, I could not stop thinking that this is true. In the movie the scientists took the blood of dinosaurs from the insects in ambers and used the DNA to clone the dinosaurs. I really do not know this can really be true. However, because I knew there were the human genome projects going on at that time, I just had to believe that this can be true in some sense.

Then… the movie started. All the dinosaurs walked around and chased the actors. The faces looked so real and all the spcial effects made me believe that this is really true. I think that those effects and computer graphics did a very good job in the movie and also the background science knowledge even helped more to have the audience to fall deep in the movie and feel that the movie is real.


One small question… Where can we find the readings for Tuesday? I checked Oncourse, but there were no article uploaded. Is it just me with Oncourse problem?