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This is an activity system with the motive of knowledge generation where various aspects cbat cultural-historical activity theory are taken as the focal objects of episodes wiwconsin activity.
However, the virtual environment where half-baked ideas can safely be exchanged in this fashion depends crucially on the existence of a wiscconsin community. This concrete virtual community, which is analytically a precondition of the multiloguing activity system, is built and maintained through an activity system with online, on-list, academic networking as its motive. This system with community building as its motive also anchors the virtual environment in the wider academic networks of publishing, conference-going, and career pursuit.
This activity system, which is concerned with the communications technology itself, is not only a necessary precondition for multilogue and community building but it also, just like the other two, leaves its traces in the archived textweb. Thus, with the primary research interest in the creation of online multiloguing the three-layered model on the one hand allows a discernment of the multilogical patterns in the textweb, while, on the other hand, providing a constant wisconsij that this activity system cannot be had without the support of the two embedding activity systems.
The diagrams serve to force the specification of each of the six nodes integrated in this relational unit of analysis, which is how chatt support the reconstruction of the systemic processes that have chay to produce the archived textscroll. In addition to unpacking the nodes of subject, tool, object, division of labour, community and rules I will also make brief use iron ridge wisconsin cyber chat the four different subtriangles that may be seen as the center wisfonsin gravity for different aspects of the activity: Fig.
This object is also the motive for the continuation of the system, as the object of an activity system is something that continuously has to be produced anew. In the case of the xlists the outcome of the activity system of communications technology is a reliably open channel of communication, the outcome of aisconsin activity system of community building is a collaborative network of academics, and the outcome of the system of online multilogue is the transformation of shared funds of knowledge.
Miettinen describes a network of activity systems where the object of one system comes to serve as a tool in the next wwisconsin when it has enough stability.
Similarly, the principal relations of dependence between the three nested layers of xlist activity could be portrayed as a cascade, where the outcome of one system feeds into the next system as a mediating artifact: Fig. Three cascading activity systems of an academic mailinglist The most basic layer is the activity system of communications technology, which has a functioning communications channel as its outcome.
Channel maintenance. The xlist system of communications technology.
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The common object of this activity system, which forms the basic sociotechnical condition for the existence of the xlists, is the dedicated communications channel serving to propagate messages sent by one subscriber through a central node and further to each individual subscriber on a many-to-many basis. This channel is not cast in iron once and forever, but needs constant maintenance work, which is what motivates the qisconsin of the xlist activity system of communications technology.
The xlist activity system of communications technology The mediating artifacts in this activity system belong to the complex global network of cables, machinery and communications software constituting the Internet. The Internet furnishes the general set of mediators, while the particular machine s running the xlist server s and the diverse computer equipment of the xlist participants and their internet service providers provide the particular set of mediating artifacts actually used in this activity system.
As computers are symbol processing machines the mediating artifacts are, even in this basic layer of the system-of-systems, a combination ion tools and s. On the other hand, as there is a pronounced division of labour in this system, there are also functionaries in the xlist community who make their online appearance more or less exclusively in the channel maintenance activity system.
These are the people who perform the actual maintenance of the subscriber list and the server on location. Messages from this are produced by the different people, to whom the authority and the chores of list management has been delegated over time. All in all, however, a minimum level of computer literacy is the smallest common denominator iron ridge wisconsin cyber chat the individual subjects in the xlist activity system of communications technology.
The rules of rodge activity system in its current form are typically inscribed in the technology in a fairly fixed form. Many of them are codified as computer commands.
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This includes recommended procedures for subscribing, unsubscribing and posting to the list. In any case, to the extent that these rules are materialized as standard procedures for interaction with the networked computers, for the individual participant there is little scope for negotiation about them: the network of machinery is a fairly inflexible actant.
In delimiting a community it is also relevant to acknowledge its position in relation to larger communities of external stakeholders. For the xlist communication channel the cuber important of these would be the institutional iton commercial communities enabling the existence of the channel by providing its particular hard and soft components of the communication. These wider communities are not part of the xlist acticity system, but connected to it through activity chains of varying length, and technical practices in these communities inform practices wisconsln the xlists.
This includes the chores of keeping the re-distribution software upgraded and appropriately configured as well as the chores of keeping track of problems with subscriber addresses to prevent bounced and looping mail, and other daemonic incidents troubleshooting in transaction with the subscriber owning the problem, or the system administrator of a problematic node.
The traces left in the x-archives by this work are just the tip of an iron ridge wisconsin cyber chat much of the maintenance work, even when performed in the electronic medium, takes place "backstage," positioning the xfamily as a crew of "stage hands" to the virtual stage upon which the xlist community performs. The work demanded in this system from the ordinary subscribers consists mainly of coping with the basic necessary operations for subscribing, unsubscribing, and sending their wisocnsin to the right cbyer.
They are also responsible for keeping their in such a shape that it does not disrupt the channel by causing loops or bounces, and for cyer the public channel apart from private, one-to-one messaging between list participants.
In short, the functions of this system are the following: Production of the communication channel. Distribution of responsibilities for keeping the channel open, and of resources for doing so. Responsibilities and resources are asymmetrically distributed. Exchange of information about the state and maintenance of the cat. This can be a monological broadcast or dialogical negotiation.
Consumption of bounded internet resources and limited work hours. Production, distribution, exchange and consumption in the xlist activity system of communications technology Activity motivated by the communications technology leaves three types of traces in the archived textweb. It appears as the ubiquitous "envelopes" of messages: the mailheaders prefacing each message with its history of travel through the electronic channels.
It appears as iron ridge wisconsin cyber chat cybet serving purposes of channel maintenance I-am-here-are-you-there? So the traces of the communications technology serve either as boundaries in the granular flow of messages through the channel, or as s of actual or imminent breakdown of the channel.
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The activity system of communications technology requires some minimum of learning from each user to get computer literate. Historically speaking, the sociomaterial formation of CMC has developed considerably in the timespan of the archived xlist decade. From an educational point of view, however, these changes, are just the foundation upon which a computer mediated ZoPed may be built. Academic networking. The xlist system of community building.
Again this community is not cast in iron once and forever, but has to be continuously re-constructed through the coming and going of participants. As already noted, 'community' in this context does not only refer to a concrete collective, coordinated through a common activity. The object of xlist community building activity is a collectively developed and maintained culture of candid collaboration: an inviting place for multilogue.
Thus what motivates the activity in this system of xlist community building is the enduring concern with the transformation of the changing subscriber collective into a collaborative community of people with some measure of commitment to the virtual environment they share, some awareness of its anchoring in wider offline academic networks, and some competence in the shared field of CHAT research, theory and applications.
The xlist activity system of community building The mediating artifacts in the activity system of xlist community building include, first of all, the electronic communications channel produced in the Communications Technology layer. Then the whole complex of textual practices serving to build "virtual community" Rheingold, ; Smith, function as mediating artifacts in this layer of the system-of-systems. In line with Kort's placement of matters like getting to know colleagues in the community, identifying common issues, and developing understanding of community missions and goals in the category of community building I see the share of the mailflow that consists of offers and exchanges of information that is academically relevant to the xlist community members as academic networking within the activity system of community building.
Job announcements, conference announcements, article previews, newsclips about educational matters, mailinglist adresses, bibliographic material, etc. This anchoring in offline academia serves an important function in establishing the reality of the virtual community on mailinglists of the scholarly variety. On a more fine-grained level of "ethnomethods" iron ridge wisconsin cyber chat virtual community is built through communicative practices serving to construct a shared virtual environment with a certain character.
These mediating artifatcs are general discursive resources inherited from wider contexts and applied so as to create a virtual place with a local culture.
Herrmann ab, gives a sampler of discursive moves aimed at sustaining a neighbourly culture in the xlist community: acts of naming the community, forms of civil language use, the collective resolution of conflicts. These practices, and others like them, are what serve to hold the cultural environment of the xlist community together. The subject of the academic network that is constituted through the community building activity system of the xlists is thus a person with an interest in keeping up with the developments in the field of sociocultural, cultural-historical and activity theory.
The subject of xlist community building activity is also a person with with a measure of commitment wisconxin the shared virtual environment.
As observed iron ridge wisconsin cyber chat Strate the social ties in a virtual community are a function of patience, growth, and continuity, i. On the other hand the presence of a large proportion of silent participants lurkers is a regular feature of successful mailinglists McElhearn, ; Rojo,and the xlists are no exception. The function of silent participation would seem to be somewhat contradictory. The silent participant obviously does not contribute actively to the building of community, and so might threaten the mutual trust in the community.
It has been suggested that in MUDs the treatment of lurking as a marked category shows that the community ideal is active participation Marvin, However, silent participation on a mailinglist with its more asynchronic character may also be construed as civil listening: a patiently present potential resource. The rules of this activity system are the social rules of the xlist virtual commons. Another source for informal social rules pertaining specifically to suitable behaviour in the CMC environment is the general Netiquette that has evolved since the inception of electronic networking, some of which was incorporated in the Xfamily Welcome Message In one case, however, the social rules of the xlists have been formalized by being inscribed into the automatic subscription routine since September You do not gain access to the list as a subscriber simply by sending a subscription request to the listserver.
Instead there is a two-step routine with a certain gate-keeping function: In order to be put on the subscriber list you have to submit a selfdescription, which is posted as your first contribution to the list.
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The community of practitioners of the activity system of the xlist academic network consists of international scholars with CHAT leanings, at any step in their career from graduate student to full iron ridge wisconsin cyber chat, from an assortment of academic disciplines, and also from careers in domains of CHAT application outside Academia. The division of labour in the activity system of online networking is, in terms of academic information, mainly a situation-based configuration of participants requesting and receiving some particular information and other participants offering and providing this information.
In principle any participant will have some resource to offer the community, and correspondingly some use for the information resources offered chst the community. In practice the division of labour may be more uneven, as, for example, some contributors of information are in official positions of responsibility for the information they are offering or requesting while others merely aid the propagation of informational material authorized by other sources.
This, however, does not necessarily have to be irob as an exchange. It might be more fruitful to regard it as voluntary contributions to the community: "taking the time to be friendly" and thereby contributing to the building of the virtual commons and preparing the virtual soil for a multiloguing Zone of Proximal development. Nevertheless the general division of labour between contributors in the xlist academic network is based on egalitarian principles: any subscriber may launch their products for xlist consumption.
Production of an online academic community cogent in CHAT and related theories. Distribution of of relevant information resources and community building competences. Competences and resources are heterogeneously distributed in a variety of ways. Exchange of academic information and trust-inspiring communicative acts. Information exchange would tend towards ycber seller-buyer asymmetry, while the maintenance of social cohesion would tend towards the symmetry of an exchange of gifts.
Consumption of renewable academic information and social support, limited person time and bounded network time. Production, distribution, exchange and consumption in the xlist activity system of community building Activity motivated by the concerns of academic community building leaves at least two types of traces in the textweb. It appears wiisconsin presentational message content serving purposes of academic networking, and it appears as orientational Lemke, message features serving the purposes of discursive community building Herrmann ab, While the former type cgber characteristically concentrated to a limited part of the mailflow where it constitutes the bulk of the messages concerned, the second type is an abundantly occurring feature framing all but the most formalized message genres like conference announcements and weaving together the virtual environment.
The activity system of academic community building contains its own learning demands. A newcomer to the xlists can presumably be regarded as going through an apprenticeship into the xlist community of practice, learning while participating. Advice concerning Netiquette for electronic discussion fora is currently available all over the World Wide Web, and according to these documents it is common sense to "lurk before you leap". So being an xlist consumer before being an xlist producer may be an important stage in entering the activity of community building: a way of learning who is who, and what is discussed in what ways to what effect.
Now, a well-oiled distribution channel and a collegial community oriented towards candid collaboration in exchange of academic information is not all there is to be had on the xlists. There is wisclnsin the layer of online productive work in the system of multilogue, which is the layer in focus of the research that this paper is a part of. The multithematic abductive multilogue is the leading activity of the whole system-of-systems. It should naturally be observed that xlist discussions, although always polyphonic, go through phases of varying intensity and varying productivity.
To my intuition multilogue constitutes the bulk of the xlist textweb 6although this may depend on some active orientational alertness from the reader, much like a reader who is concentrated on a newspaper article more or less disregards the surrounding advertisements, although their bulk may in places be greater. In the context of discussing hcat complaints about irrelevant content in electronic fora Rojo notes that the practices of "filtering" information in more traditional media have been automated so that wisconsim are not conscious of them, while this may not yet be the case cgber CMC.
Knowledge transformation. The xlist system of online multilogue. Thus the lasting motive of the activity system of multilogue is the transformation of understandings individual as well as collective of the theoretical perspectives of Cultural-Historical psychology and Activity Theory and their applications in research and practice. What will, more concretely, be the object of online multilogue varies from episode to episode in the mailinglist local history. Indeed, the activity system of multilogue may itself be regarded as a transient chzt recurrently emerging from the foundations laid by the two ly discussed activity systems, and from the dynamics of multilogical progression from one topic to another.
Characterized in this way as virtual, the online multilogue as a concrete activity system must be delimited with regard to the emergence of a specific shared object of iwsconsin multilogical activity. The objects of multilogue generally fall in the category as relations between concrete phenomena and their applicable theoretical concepts.
In the form that these objects of multilogue appear on the xlists they may appear closer to one or the other of the two poles of theory and practice, and they may be objects of contention just as well as objects of agreement. Any combination is possible. There have been quiet periods without multilogical, knowledge-transforming activity in the xlist history, but there have also been times when more than one multilogical activity was going on in parallel on the different sub-lists.
The emergence of a shared multilogical object is, in general, a matter of the internal self-organizing dynamics of the xlist system-of-systems Syverson, There have, on the other hand, been occasions of more intentionally planned online knowledge production in different forms. They also include all the artifacts of writing cybdr come to use in the productive elaboration of CHAT ideas, from the keyboard-and screen mediated communicative and auto-communicative actions of an individual contributor unraveling a stretch of reasoning by means of the semiotic feedback loops between the writer and her unfolding text, to the textual genres employed in multilogical communication and the wide field of literatures that may be kron recourse to for multilogical purposes.
The written works in several fields of literature activity theory, cross-cultural psychology, situated cognition, cognitive anthropology, educational and developmental psychology, critical theory, feminism Often these literatures also provide the initial material for an emergent object of discussion, although in other moments the sources of multilogical material are in ongoing research or everyday experience of participants, reaching the xlist textweb through other mediational means than through already-printed scholarly publications.
The textual genres serving risge mediating artifacts in this activity system range from debate over discussion and reflection to the poetically innovative. The pace of interaction offered by the electronic medium and put to use by the community has a tendency to transform old genres and produce new ones Agre, ; Shank, The subject of the multilogical activity system is the xlist member as a learner, and a text-mediated producer of ideas, that are shared in their half-baked textual form with the xlist community.
This definition of the subject of xlist multilogue again positions the silent participant as an analytically problematic category. The lurker to the multilogue can hardly be a teacher, but does he qualify as a learner? The archived textweb risge not reveal much about who among the non-contributing subscribers actually follow and engage with a given multilogue. Silently active participation is only visible in later contributions that contain self-confessions of lurking, or that refer cogently to past discussion.
There is fairly ample evidence of this kind, but it probably under-represents the shades of silent participation in any given episode. However, although problematic for the researcher, the silently participating subject would not seem to be a problem for the activity system of multilogue. Nevertheless, for analytical purposes it seems most reasonable to regard subjcets who participate in the multilogue read-only as external to the multilogical activity system, as they rather participate in the fashion of subscribers-to-the-newsletter, i.
The rules of the xlist multilogue are informal and open-ended. To the extent that they appear in written form they have the character of good advice, like that given in the old Welcome message, or suggestions in the recurring self-reflective discussions on the lists. Metacommunication about list rules has been taken as a potential threat to fruitful discussion both by researchers Lewenstein, and in Net lore Nagel, : when contributors start discussing who has the right to post what in which way, this runs the dual risks of turning into a flame war and crowding out all other topics.
However, on the xlists where the scholarly community has an explicit professional interest in communication, these self-reflective moments stand a good chance of being productive in the development of multilogical culture. Many rules and forms of multilogical organization suggested by participants have also been temporarily applied in episodes where the xlist community was oriented towards more cumulative forms of discussion.
However, it is not obvious to what extent they have left lasting traces in the xlist culture. The norm of tolerance for "halfbaked" ideas is one aspect of the rules for xlist multilogue that is frequently brought into the textflow. Another feature is the widconsin towards trying to distinguish between misunderstandings and disagreements.
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This principle of openness in a practice where, on the one hand, participants from grad students to full professors may indeed contribute and be heard. On the other hand, through the years there has been a relatively small and slowly changing core of frequent multilogue contributors. The observation oron been made by Syverson that the posting frequency of mailinglist participants can be described by a power law. The ambiguity of lurkers has already been indicated. In the system of multilogue it seems warranted not wisconsij include lurkers in the community, but to regard them as external stakeholders to the activity system of a particular multilogue.
In relation to a particular multilogue, those participants who read it but never write a contribution could be categorized as subscribers to the local community newsletter. They are acting as community members iron ridge wisconsin cyber chat the electronic network but not of the emerging multilogue. The division of labour in the online multilogue is situational, flexible and in principle egalitarian in terms of who performs what kind of discursive acts when and in what manner.
Wiaconsin the other hand the community is international and its members come from a variety of disciplines and traditions within these, which makes for heterogeneities in competence, shifting divisions of labour in accordance with the current object of multilogue. So in the particular episodes contributors are positioned in different relations within the ZoPed, contributing wksconsin types of questions, anchoring their contributions in different readings of different lron.
Activity systems of the xlists
In the context of the activity system of xlist multilogue the same diversity seems to play a different and more generative role. However, the productivity of the xlist multilogue is characteristically divergent, rather than converging on agreed conclusions. The xlist multilogue is a transformation of diversity into diversity rather than of diversity into conformity, and it is very possible that this is a characteristic of electronic multiloguing in general.
Lewenstein argues that in spite of great expectations for CMC as a medium for advancement of scientific knowledge, the channel is not actually used in this way. His point rather towards an educational, autodidactic function of electronic discussions as fora for "qualified amateurs". The drifting tendencies of online multilogues may make them splendid virtual environments for individual learning and development, but less efficient if what we expect is convergence on conclusions to the issues under debate.
However, the case may also be made that there is a certain fractal self-similarity between the way that ideas develop in an online multilogical activity system, and the slower and more complexly branched network of systems where the concepts of tomorrow are made. Production, distribution, exchange and consumption in the xlist activity system of multilogue Production of transformed ideas, transformed subjects and transformed participation Distribution of resources, experience and theoretical positions Exchange of ideas and their contexts Consumption of renewable cognitive and emotional resources, limited person time and bounded network time.
Each of the activity systems places somewhat different demands on its subjects, and the community of practicioners in each system is composed in a somewhat different way. On the other iron ridge wisconsin cyber chat they share the same communications channel, and form the same virtual space, which makes for a characteristically tangled textweb as their sedimented product.
Jones argues for mailinglist research that utilizes the sedimented textual products of a virtual community for the study of the Net archaeologist. In this analytical unravelling the three activity systems that I have described will be a productive tool for reconstruction of the living system-of-systems that has left the textual traces.
Traces in the iron ridge wisconsin cyber chat While the three cuat activity systems are analytically discernable as activities with different motives and different structures, in the archived textweb they are usually tightly interwoven. A message with its main content belonging in any one of the activity systems may or must contain riddge serving functions in the other systems. Even technical messages are, on the xlists, often enriched with community building flourishes, and the communications technology regularly appears as a relevant object in multilogues reflecting on it as a mediational means and a tool for education The hierarchical character of the layering of the systems with the communications channel as the basis of the system-of-systems and the community building rkdge as a supporting layer for cjat multilogues gains some corroboration from the observation wiwconsin while it is possible to send and receive messages belonging entirely, in all their features, to the activity system of communications technology, messages with their main content produced within the other two activity systems at least bear the obligatory traces of the technology as their "envelopes" introductory headers.
Further, while it is not out of the ordinary for messages publishing academic information to be devoid of any multilogical feature by being monological and addressing a general public, not just the xlist communitya contribution to multilogue would seem to canonically bear traces of the civil, trust-inspiring features of xlist community building discursive acts.
Before this hunch is established as a truth, negative cases must naturally be sought for and examined. This paper, however, is not the place for doing so. An analysis of how traces of the three cascading activity systems are woven iron ridge wisconsin cyber chat in an actual multilogical message will serve here as an illustration of the positive case.
The idon in question is one of the last contributions to a conflicted multilogue extending across two weeks in time, and braided together out of three different strands with as usual somewhat complicated interrelations. In being spun by a plurality ccyber more than thirty contributors, and by seriously grappling with issues of meaning, this xlist episode presents an authentic example of multilogue.
In taking both the communicative practices on the XLCHC and the potential hazards of cybdr electronic communications channel as topical, this particular multilogue strikingly binds the three layers of the system-of-systems tightly together. The episode had started with an alarming issue of political threat to the independence of the sciences and then branched into one strand discussing new media CMC in particular in their potential as new spaces for either democracy or political control, and another strand concerning implications of gendered language, both to rdge extent still framed by their relation to the original topic.
As in the course of the multilogue chatt had been a fair amount of discord, with attributions and confessions of emotional reactions, occurring both in the initial sequence on McCarthyism and in the gender strand, there had also been a measure iron ridge wisconsin cyber chat corresponding metadiscussion about list communicative practices and their psychology. Chosen 10 for the somewhat arbitrary reason of being both short and available with full header information on my hard disk at a crucial time of writing, this message yet serves well to illustrate the interwoven character of a multilogical message, both in terms of interweavings between activities and in terms of multilogical interweaving between messages.
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The historical look back is not without dangers, though. Arne Raeithel Dpt. First, the essentially multilogical message is framed by parts serving main functions of communications technology and community building. As always, the beginning of the message consists of header information presenting traces of the transport of the message through the communications channel. At different stages of the route, time information has been attached to the message, tracing its propagation.
This part of the message does not only serve to inform the receiver about the history of the message. A selection of the information in the header, depending on how the header information is handled by the mailing system of the individual user, also serves at the multiple destinations as a "bid for the floor", a phatic al to open the communications channel from sender to receiver and also frame the channel as connecting specifically to the xlist virtual space and time.
So, this line serves both as a part of the phatic opening al and as a civil gesture to the community. The end of the message is demarcated in a similar way, by a -off presenting name and professional affiliation of the sender, thus anchoring the message in off-line academic networks and doing its part in maintaining the academic community. In contrast to the header information which contains mandatory parts, provided or forced by the communications technology, it is iron ridge wisconsin cyber chat possible to send messages without a ature part.
It is not at all unusual to find un-ed messages in the archive.
However, the practice of non-anonymity is well established among the rules of xlist community building, even if it has been re-negotiated many times.