Tuesday, 23 August 2005


A week ago, I wrote about designing real physical space for future. As I was reading Rob Reynolds' article on The Incredible Shrinking LMS -- Or How Learning Will Travel, my thought ran off after reading his view of "home":

I grew up in Texas, spent some quality time in Latin America, went back to Texas for a time, moved to Oklahoma, and have finally started a new stint in Massachusetts. On the one hand, each of those places came to feel like "home." On the other hand, the part of each of them that is home is less about geography and more about experience and memory. While I have always had a "home base," my real concept of home has been expanding my whole life. When you get right down to it, home for me is Texas/Mexico/Argentina/Oklahoma/Massachusetts and every memory, relationship, and story tied up with those places. And because home is the collection of these things and not the physical surroundings in which I live, I always carry it with me. It may be manifested, to some extent, in my house or apartment, in the places I actually live, but it is definitely a "mobile" reality and always has been.

One thing which resonances very strongly with me is his notion of
the understanding of home evolves naturally from house --> house + relationships and experiences -- > relationships + experiences + memories

Closely related is the notion of social situation. American sociologist Ervin Goffman, in his 1959 volume The Presentation of Self in Everyday life unravels the intricacies of social role-playing: he shows how we play different roles in different social situations, and how we are constantly occupied (both consciously and unconsciously) with impression management. Goffman’s (mainly implicit) characterization of the notion of situation — which plays a pivotal role in his analysis—is spatial in nature. That is, Goffman’s situations - such as the home, the workplace or the city-hall — are thought of as physical locations, delimited by physical boundaries such as walls, floors and ceilings. In Joshua Meyrowitz’s No Sense of Place, he asks why should we think of social situations in these terms? Clearly what is essential to the social aspects of a situation are the flows of information, communication and influence among its human participants, not its physical whereabouts. Admittedly, such things as walls and ceilings do help shape the social on goings that take place within them, but only derivatively so, i.e., by their effects on the above mentioned flows. (We usually take such effects for granted, e.g., as when we rely on the walls of out home to provide us privacy.) Thus Meyrowitz’s conclusion is that social situations are best thought of more abstractly, as information systems.

This is the basis of my interaction spaces design in Fablusi role play simulation. I have argued against rendering of interaction spaces here and here. Space, in a sense, is related to the experience and memories more than the physical setting. Space in role play simulation, and indeed any other type of simulation, is already an abstracted notion. The focus has moved away from the "physical"-aspect of the space into the "experience" and "memory"-aspect of space. I argued that it would be a more engaging (and pedagogically effective) space if the space is augmented by player's imagination rather than graphic designer's creativity and with an information flow control system which resembles the social relationship of the participants in the space. Hence Fablusi iSpaces are implemented with very complex "right" management capability. :-)

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