Saturday, April 9, 2005

Self Park

Pictured (via and via):  That's me yesterday while reading Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner's The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind's Hidden Complexities.  I read most of it on the plane ride to San Francisco and back last month, and I'm on first thing Tuesday morning to lead a class discussion on its finer points.  Here, for example, is one of the passages from a page I dog-eared:

Ed Hutchins studies the fascinating mental models set up by Micronesian navigators to sail across the Pacific.  In such models, it is the islands that move, and virtual islands serve as reference points.  Hutchins reports a conversation between Micronesian and Western navigators who have trouble understanding each other's conceptualizations.  As described by David Lewis, the Micronesian navigator Beiong comes to understand a Western diagram of intersecting bearings in the following way:

He eventually succeeded in achieving the mental tour de force of visualizing himself sailing simultaneously from Oroluk to Ponape to Oroluk and picturing the ETAK bearings to Ngatik at the start of both voyages.  In this way, he managed to comprehend the diagram and confirmed that it showed the island's position correctly. [The ETAK is the virtual island, and Ngatik is the island to be located.] (51)

Via interlibrary loan, I went ahead and requested "Why the Islands Move" from Perception--the journal that printed Hutchins and Ed Hinton's short article in 1984.  Why?  Well, phase two of discussion-leading is writing a short essay due one week after the discussion.  And I've been thinking about epistemology and virtual reference points in relationship to cognition ever since I brushed against this passage.  So there it is. 

The rest of the weekend: social network analysis for 711, drafting a long-ish project on a set of six (1999-2004) CCCC keynote addresses (need to get down 10-12 pages by Monday afternoon to be on pace) for 611, and tinkering on a talk for the Humanities and Technosciences conference in Albany next Saturday (if you check the site, know that they've got our title wrong...we didn't call it "Web Blogs...." 

And lawn chairs.  Sixty and sunny, a laptop and wifi--we'll need lawn chairs for that.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at April 9, 2005 12:04 PM to Distances

I know exactly where in our back yard I can get the airport and battery phone signals. (Cell phones don't work very well in Earlville.) And I think I know where the lawn furniture is.

Posted by: senioritis at April 9, 2005 11:48 PM

Other than one-minute coordinations with D. and Ph., I only get one or two phone calls a month, but I have a cell phone just in case. I can manage on the back porch without a phone nearby, in other words. Been reading outdoors more than writing, but the wifi should sustain me throughout this afternoon. Grabbed up three new lawn chairs yesterday (all the rest was offed in the move to NY), including one with a leg rest, for, you know, relaxing the right way.

Posted by: Derek at April 10, 2005 1:45 PM