affordances -- some added thoughts

Hello, all --

After several days of on-and-off thinking about affordances, I think I see a few new facets of the problem. What seems to have been building up in my head is the idea that affordances -- and actually feedback functions in general -- are controlled variables.

This control is done at some lower level, a level in which the output function is reorganized to use different lower-level systems, or selects them (by sending reference signals to them) in some systematic way.

This doesn't necessarily mean that we actually change the affordances of specific items. It can mean that we select items according the results we intend to produce by using those items. The selection process determines which affordance we actually use.

This implies that the "standardization" of artifacts like tools is not necessarily what we need. We need a variety of possible means of control, from which we can select according to the specific purpose we want to carry out. A relatively small number of people actually produce new items or change old ones, but if they don't use the result themselves, they create them for the purpose of giving others new choices of means (e. g., so the designers can sell them). It is still the purposes of the user that determine which feedback function or affordance will be used to satisfy any given set of purposes.
And a selection is needed because not everyone can use a given affordance -- I have a friend who, for target practice, selects a bow with a 120-pound pull just to get a flat trajectory, a bow that I can scarcely bend, much less use to shoot an arrow.

It seems clearer to me now that the whole idea of a fixed feedback function or affordance is a mistake. It's really the "behavioral illusion" in another disguise. It seems that the affordance in the existing feedback path is what controls behavior, but in fact the affordance itself is controlled (by selecting one for use) as a way of achieving an end that has already been specified. The actual behavior involved relates to the purpose in the usual way, being adjusted according to the error and acting through the selected feedback path to make some perception match a reference setting. The choice of feedback path or affordance is varied until the specified goal is achieved.

This choice process is simply one of the usual ways a lower-order control system is used to produce an input needed by a higher-order system. The feedback path that the higher system sees includes all the lower-order control systems involved.

Best,

Bill

To paraphrase: in general, any perception that is means of controlling a perception at a higher level is an affordance with respect to that higher level purpose. Only the more obvious cases – obvious because perceived as a stable aspect of the environment – have been described as affordances, but the transient and nonce cases are no less so.

···

/B

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 4:59 AM, Bill Powers powers_w@frontier.net wrote:

Hello, all –

After several days of on-and-off thinking about affordances, I think I see a few new facets of the problem. What seems to have been building up in my head is the idea that affordances – and actually feedback functions in general – are controlled variables.

This control is done at some lower level, a level in which the output function is reorganized to use different lower-level systems, or selects them (by sending reference signals to them) in some systematic way.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that we actually change the affordances of specific items. It can mean that we select items according the results we intend to produce by using those items. The selection process determines which affordance we actually use.

This implies that the “standardization” of artifacts like tools is not necessarily what we need. We need a variety of possible means of control, from which we can select according to the specific purpose we want to carry out. A relatively small number of people actually produce new items or change old ones, but if they don’t use the result themselves, they create them for the purpose of giving others new choices of means (e. g., so the designers can sell them). It is still the purposes of the user that determine which feedback function or affordance will be used to satisfy any given set of purposes.

And a selection is needed because not everyone can use a given affordance – I have a friend who, for target practice, selects a bow with a 120-pound pull just to get a flat trajectory, a bow that I can scarcely bend, much less use to shoot an arrow.

It seems clearer to me now that the whole idea of a fixed feedback function or affordance is a mistake. It’s really the “behavioral illusion” in another disguise. It seems that the affordance in the existing feedback path is what controls behavior, but in fact the affordance itself is controlled (by selecting one for use) as a way of achieving an end that has already been specified. The actual behavior involved relates to the purpose in the usual way, being adjusted according to the error and acting through the selected feedback path to make some perception match a reference setting. The choice of feedback path or affordance is varied until the specified goal is achieved.

This choice process is simply one of the usual ways a lower-order control system is used to produce an input needed by a higher-order system. The feedback path that the higher system sees includes all the lower-order control systems involved.

Best,

Bill

Further, reorganization can amount to the discovery of an affordance (construction of a new perceptual input function), or the discovery of how better to employ an existing affordance (e.g. refinement of skill), or of how to employ it for a different purpose.

I was led to this thought because this discussion was on my mind as I was reading in Phil Runkel’s People as Living Things, specifically, the paragraph that spans pp. 134-135, which talks of how “the nervous system begins casting about for a reorganization that will reduce the total error.” In that process of rumination, was that paragraph an affordance?

···

/Bruce

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 8:58 AM, Bruce Nevin bnhpct@gmail.com wrote:

To paraphrase: in general, any perception that is means of controlling a perception at a higher level is an affordance with respect to that higher level purpose. Only the more obvious cases – obvious because perceived as a stable aspect of the environment – have been described as affordances, but the transient and nonce cases are no less so.

/B

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 4:59 AM, Bill Powers powers_w@frontier.net wrote:

Hello, all –

After several days of on-and-off thinking about affordances, I think I see a few new facets of the problem. What seems to have been building up in my head is the idea that affordances – and actually feedback functions in general – are controlled variables.

This control is done at some lower level, a level in which the output function is reorganized to use different lower-level systems, or selects them (by sending reference signals to them) in some systematic way.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that we actually change the affordances of specific items. It can mean that we select items according the results we intend to produce by using those items. The selection process determines which affordance we actually use.

This implies that the “standardization” of artifacts like tools is not necessarily what we need. We need a variety of possible means of control, from which we can select according to the specific purpose we want to carry out. A relatively small number of people actually produce new items or change old ones, but if they don’t use the result themselves, they create them for the purpose of giving others new choices of means (e. g., so the designers can sell them). It is still the purposes of the user that determine which feedback function or affordance will be used to satisfy any given set of purposes.

And a selection is needed because not everyone can use a given affordance – I have a friend who, for target practice, selects a bow with a 120-pound pull just to get a flat trajectory, a bow that I can scarcely bend, much less use to shoot an arrow.

It seems clearer to me now that the whole idea of a fixed feedback function or affordance is a mistake. It’s really the “behavioral illusion” in another disguise. It seems that the affordance in the existing feedback path is what controls behavior, but in fact the affordance itself is controlled (by selecting one for use) as a way of achieving an end that has already been specified. The actual behavior involved relates to the purpose in the usual way, being adjusted according to the error and acting through the selected feedback path to make some perception match a reference setting. The choice of feedback path or affordance is varied until the specified goal is achieved.

This choice process is simply one of the usual ways a lower-order control system is used to produce an input needed by a higher-order system. The feedback path that the higher system sees includes all the lower-order control systems involved.

Best,

Bill

[From Bill Powers (2012.11.09.0909 MST)]

Further, reorganization can
amount to the discovery of an affordance (construction of a new
perceptual input function), or the discovery of how better to employ an
existing affordance (e.g. refinement of skill), or of how to employ it
for a different purpose.
I was led to this thought because this discussion was on my mind as I was
reading in Phil Runkel’s People as Living Things, specifically,
the paragraph that spans pp. 134-135, which talks of how “the
nervous system begins casting about for a reorganization that will reduce
the total error.” In that process of rumination, was that paragraph
an affordance?

/Bruce

To paraphrase: in general, any perception that is means of
controlling a perception at a higher level is an affordance with respect
to that higher level purpose. Only the more obvious cases – obvious
because perceived as a stable aspect of the environment – have been
described as affordances, but the transient and nonce cases are no less
so.

BP: I’d prefer to stick with “feedback function” or
“feedback path” or even just “means of control.” To
use the term affordance is to endorse the context of naive realism in
which it was proposed, which I definitely reject even if my reasons are
somewhat unclear. To say some means of control is an affordance is much
like saying that certain variables important for an organism to control
are “reinforcers.” The baggage that comes with the term
is unacceptable in PCT. And note how such vaguely-defined terms always
lead to classification problems – is or is not something an affordance?
I don’t care how it is classified because I don’t accept the
taxonomy.

Best,

Bill P.

···

At 10:12 AM 11/9/2012 -0500, Bruce Nevin wrote:

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 8:58 AM, Bruce Nevin > bnhpct@gmail.com > wrote:

[From Chad Green (2012.11.09.1145 EDT)]

Bruce, perhaps you can help me to find an explanation for this experience:

A few weeks ago I woke up for no apparent reason in the middle of the night. This was becoming a pattern so rather than forcing myself to sleep I decided to pass the time by asking a question that I had never asked myself. Off the top of my head I chose this one: What is the opposite of virtue? After about 5 seconds I noticed something tickling my cheek. It was a streaming tear. Many more followed thereafter. I experienced no emotion as this unfolded. My mind was completely blank the entire time.

Is this an example of reorganization?

Best,
Chad

Chad Green, PMP
Program Analyst
Loudoun County Public Schools
21000 Education Court
Ashburn, VA 20148
Voice: 571-252-1486
Fax: 571-252-1633

"If you want sense, you'll have to make it yourself." - Norton Juster

Bruce Nevin <bnhpct@GMAIL.COM> 11/9/2012 10:12 AM >>>

Further, reorganization can amount to the discovery of an affordance
(construction of a new perceptual input function), or the discovery of how
better to employ an existing affordance (e.g. refinement of skill), or of
how to employ it for a different purpose.

I was led to this thought because this discussion was on my mind as I was
reading in Phil Runkel's *People as Living Things*, specifically, the
paragraph that spans pp. 134-135, which talks of how "the nervous system
begins casting about for a reorganization that will reduce the total
error." In that process of rumination, was that paragraph an affordance?

/Bruce

···

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 8:58 AM, Bruce Nevin <bnhpct@gmail.com> wrote:

To paraphrase: in general, any perception that is means of controlling a
perception at a higher level is an affordance with respect to that higher
level purpose. Only the more obvious cases -- obvious because perceived as
a stable aspect of the environment -- have been described as affordances,
but the transient and nonce cases are no less so.

/B

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 4:59 AM, Bill Powers <powers_w@frontier.net> wrote:

Hello, all --

After several days of on-and-off thinking about affordances, I think I
see a few new facets of the problem. What seems to have been building up in
my head is the idea that affordances -- and actually feedback functions in
general -- are controlled variables.

This control is done at some lower level, a level in which the output
function is reorganized to use different lower-level systems, or selects
them (by sending reference signals to them) in some systematic way.

This doesn't necessarily mean that we actually change the affordances of
specific items. It can mean that we select items according the results we
intend to produce by using those items. The selection process determines
which affordance we actually use.

This implies that the "standardization" of artifacts like tools is not
necessarily what we need. We need a variety of possible means of control,
from which we can select according to the specific purpose we want to carry
out. A relatively small number of people actually produce new items or
change old ones, but if they don't use the result themselves, they create
them for the purpose of giving others new choices of means (e. g., so the
designers can sell them). It is still the purposes of the user that
determine which feedback function or affordance will be used to satisfy any
given set of purposes.
And a selection is needed because not everyone can use a given affordance
-- I have a friend who, for target practice, selects a bow with a
120-pound pull just to get a flat trajectory, a bow that I can scarcely
bend, much less use to shoot an arrow.

It seems clearer to me now that the whole idea of a fixed feedback
function or affordance is a mistake. It's really the "behavioral illusion"
in another disguise. It seems that the affordance in the existing feedback
path is what controls behavior, but in fact the affordance itself is
controlled (by selecting one for use) as a way of achieving an end that has
already been specified. The actual behavior involved relates to the purpose
in the usual way, being adjusted according to the error and acting through
the selected feedback path to make some perception match a reference
setting. The choice of feedback path or affordance is varied until the
specified goal is achieved.

This choice process is simply one of the usual ways a lower-order control
system is used to produce an input needed by a higher-order system. The
feedback path that the higher system sees includes all the lower-order
control systems involved.

Best,

Bill

[From Kent McClelland (2012.11.09.1050 CST)

It looks we are coming to similar conclusions. My reaction to Bill's message below is to endorse it with a hearty YES.

Feedback functions are controlled, and they aren't fixed. Standardization is not by any means what we necessarily need (even though we increasingly see it all around us). Higher-level control systems select feedback paths from a range of possible lower-level control systems. It's all perception and control of perception. "Affordances" is not a helpful term to use to describe this phenomenon.

The only thing that I would add is that the feedback functions individuals employ are sometimes (pretty often) controlled by other people, not necessarily the individuals making use of those paths for controlling their own perceptions.

We live in cooperatively built physical environments in which many possible sources of disturbance have been systematically removed by the massive control efforts of the other people around us. It takes a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy, which overwhelms the collective control systems designed to protect individuals and make their lives more comfortable, to demonstrate the extent to which people in economically developed countries live in artificially constructed physical environments from which a great many natural fluctuations or disturbances have been (as much as possible, but not entirely) ruled out.

Kent

···

On Nov 9, 2012, at 3:59 AM, Bill Powers wrote:

Hello, all --

After several days of on-and-off thinking about affordances, I think I see a few new facets of the problem. What seems to have been building up in my head is the idea that affordances -- and actually feedback functions in general -- are controlled variables.

This control is done at some lower level, a level in which the output function is reorganized to use different lower-level systems, or selects them (by sending reference signals to them) in some systematic way.

This doesn't necessarily mean that we actually change the affordances of specific items. It can mean that we select items according the results we intend to produce by using those items. The selection process determines which affordance we actually use.

This implies that the "standardization" of artifacts like tools is not necessarily what we need. We need a variety of possible means of control, from which we can select according to the specific purpose we want to carry out. A relatively small number of people actually produce new items or change old ones, but if they don't use the result themselves, they create them for the purpose of giving others new choices of means (e. g., so the designers can sell them). It is still the purposes of the user that determine which feedback function or affordance will be used to satisfy any given set of purposes.
And a selection is needed because not everyone can use a given affordance -- I have a friend who, for target practice, selects a bow with a 120-pound pull just to get a flat trajectory, a bow that I can scarcely bend, much less use to shoot an arrow.

It seems clearer to me now that the whole idea of a fixed feedback function or affordance is a mistake. It's really the "behavioral illusion" in another disguise. It seems that the affordance in the existing feedback path is what controls behavior, but in fact the affordance itself is controlled (by selecting one for use) as a way of achieving an end that has already been specified. The actual behavior involved relates to the purpose in the usual way, being adjusted according to the error and acting through the selected feedback path to make some perception match a reference setting. The choice of feedback path or affordance is varied until the specified goal is achieved.

This choice process is simply one of the usual ways a lower-order control system is used to produce an input needed by a higher-order system. The feedback path that the higher system sees includes all the lower-order control systems involved.

Best,

Bill

[From Bill Powers (2012.11.09.1901 MST)]

Kent McClelland (2012.11.09.1050 CST) –

It looks we are coming to
similar conclusions. My reaction to Bill’s message below is to endorse it
with a hearty YES.

BP: Yay!

KM: The only thing that I would add is that the feedback functions
individuals employ are sometimes (pretty often) controlled by other
people, not necessarily the individuals making use of those paths for
controlling their own perceptions.

BP: If you’ll change that to read “the feedback functions available
for choosing by other people are sometimes (pretty often) created by
other people” I will not quibble further about the wording. Other
people don’t do the actual choosing, do they?

KM: We live in cooperatively
built physical environments in which many possible sources of disturbance
have been systematically removed by the massive control efforts of the
other people around us. It takes a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy,
which overwhelms the collective control systems designed to protect
individuals and make their lives more comfortable, to demonstrate the
extent to which people in economically developed countries live in
artificially constructed physical environments from which a great many
natural fluctuations or disturbances have been (as much as possible, but
not entirely) ruled out.

I wrote an “essay on the obvious” which extracted a slightly
different point from the same (agreed) facts:
The general [accepted] idea is that it is very hard to find any
regularity or order in the behavior of organisms, so we must look beyond
the obvious and search for hidden patterns and subtle principles.
But behavior IS orderly and it is orderly in obvious ways. It is
orderly, however, in a way that conventional behavioral scientists have
barely noticed. It is not orderly in the sense that the output forces
generated by an organism follow regularly from sensory inputs or past
experience. It is orderly in the sense that the CONSEQUENCES of those
output forces are shaped by the organism into highly regular and reliably
repeatable states and patterns.A good many of those regularities are the “artificially
constructed physical environments” you speak of, such as interstate
highways, houses, and telephone systems. These consequences of behavior
are produced, then used, with great precision and repeatability, so much
that only a control-system model can explain them. One certainly does not
get an impression of approximate regularities detectable only by
statistical means and visible only over many repeated trials. If a theory
can’t explain the most obvious and numerous regularities, how can it
purport to relate to hidden ones?

If you agree with the ideas I outlined, then you probably also would
agree that once again, PCT turns cause and effect upside down. As I have
heard of them, concepts of cultural effects of human artifacts assume
that the artifacts shape the behavior of the people who live among them.
The same old “environment in control” idea. But if my view is
right, the artifacts are a result, not a cause, of behavior, and are used
only as long as the intentions of the behaving systems require their use.
Nobody will pay $100 for a Cabbage Patch Doll any more.

Best,

Bill P.

···

Chad,

I’m not sure why you ask me this. If the affectless tears were an effect of reorganization then more was going on than you have said. If you were unable to control a variable of vital importance to you, you haven’t said so. Nor have you described any change in your behavior (your control of perceptions) such as might result from reorganization.

Maybe just a physiological effect of sleep deprivation?

Some of us have suggested that if you want to experience reorganization, just keep studying and applying PCT. For examples, see Phil Runkel’s dialog with Bill.

···

/B

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 11:45 AM, Chad Green Chad.Green@lcps.org wrote:

[From Chad Green (2012.11.09.1145 EDT)]

Bruce, perhaps you can help me to find an explanation for this experience:

A few weeks ago I woke up for no apparent reason in the middle of the night. This was becoming a pattern so rather than forcing myself to sleep I decided to pass the time by asking a question that I had never asked myself. Off the top of my head I chose this one: What is the opposite of virtue? After about 5 seconds I noticed something tickling my cheek. It was a streaming tear. Many more followed thereafter. I experienced no emotion as this unfolded. My mind was completely blank the entire time.

Is this an example of reorganization?

Best,

Chad

Chad Green, PMP

Program Analyst

Loudoun County Public Schools

21000 Education Court

Ashburn, VA 20148

Voice: 571-252-1486

Fax: 571-252-1633

“If you want sense, you’ll have to make it yourself.” - Norton Juster

Bruce Nevin bnhpct@GMAIL.COM 11/9/2012 10:12 AM >>>
Further, reorganization can amount to the discovery of an affordance

(construction of a new perceptual input function), or the discovery of how

better to employ an existing affordance (e.g. refinement of skill), or of

how to employ it for a different purpose.

I was led to this thought because this discussion was on my mind as I was

reading in Phil Runkel’s People as Living Things, specifically, the
paragraph that spans pp. 134-135, which talks of how "the nervous system

begins casting about for a reorganization that will reduce the total

error." In that process of rumination, was that paragraph an affordance?

/Bruce

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 8:58 AM, Bruce Nevin bnhpct@gmail.com wrote:

To paraphrase: in general, any perception that is means of controlling a

perception at a higher level is an affordance with respect to that higher

level purpose. Only the more obvious cases – obvious because perceived as

a stable aspect of the environment – have been described as affordances,

but the transient and nonce cases are no less so.

/B

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 4:59 AM, Bill Powers powers_w@frontier.net wrote:

Hello, all –

After several days of on-and-off thinking about affordances, I think I

see a few new facets of the problem. What seems to have been building up in

my head is the idea that affordances – and actually feedback functions in

general – are controlled variables.

This control is done at some lower level, a level in which the output

function is reorganized to use different lower-level systems, or selects

them (by sending reference signals to them) in some systematic way.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that we actually change the affordances of

specific items. It can mean that we select items according the results we

intend to produce by using those items. The selection process determines

which affordance we actually use.

This implies that the “standardization” of artifacts like tools is not

necessarily what we need. We need a variety of possible means of control,

from which we can select according to the specific purpose we want to carry

out. A relatively small number of people actually produce new items or

change old ones, but if they don’t use the result themselves, they create

them for the purpose of giving others new choices of means (e. g., so the

designers can sell them). It is still the purposes of the user that

determine which feedback function or affordance will be used to satisfy any

given set of purposes.

And a selection is needed because not everyone can use a given affordance

– I have a friend who, for target practice, selects a bow with a

120-pound pull just to get a flat trajectory, a bow that I can scarcely

bend, much less use to shoot an arrow.

It seems clearer to me now that the whole idea of a fixed feedback

function or affordance is a mistake. It’s really the “behavioral illusion”

in another disguise. It seems that the affordance in the existing feedback

path is what controls behavior, but in fact the affordance itself is

controlled (by selecting one for use) as a way of achieving an end that has

already been specified. The actual behavior involved relates to the purpose

in the usual way, being adjusted according to the error and acting through

the selected feedback path to make some perception match a reference

setting. The choice of feedback path or affordance is varied until the

specified goal is achieved.

This choice process is simply one of the usual ways a lower-order control

system is used to produce an input needed by a higher-order system. The

feedback path that the higher system sees includes all the lower-order

control systems involved.

Best,

Bill

Yes. Almost a reductio ad absurdum. If Gibson’s term has the same range of reference, but is less specific, why bother?

Why bother is to be able to say to someone who likes Gibson’s ideas that she is not saying any more than this. Yes, the feedback function (feedback path, means of control) is modeled as properties of the environment, but it is such only because of control systems that choose and employ it. Without control, no affordance exists as such.

···

/B

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 11:19 AM, Bill Powers powers_w@frontier.net wrote:

[From Bill Powers (2012.11.09.0909 MST)]

At 10:12 AM 11/9/2012 -0500, Bruce Nevin wrote:

[…]

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 8:58 AM, Bruce Nevin > > bnhpct@gmail.com > > wrote:
To paraphrase: in general, any perception that is means of
controlling a perception at a higher level is an affordance with respect
to that higher level purpose. Only the more obvious cases – obvious
because perceived as a stable aspect of the environment – have been
described as affordances, but the transient and nonce cases are no less
so.

BP: I’d prefer to stick with “feedback function” or
“feedback path” or even just “means of control.” To
use the term affordance is to endorse the context of naive realism in
which it was proposed, which I definitely reject even if my reasons are
somewhat unclear. To say some means of control is an affordance is much
like saying that certain variables important for an organism to control
are “reinforcers.” The baggage that comes with the term
is unacceptable in PCT. And note how such vaguely-defined terms always
lead to classification problems – is or is not something an affordance?
I don’t care how it is classified because I don’t accept the
taxonomy.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Chad Green (2012.11.19.1231 EDT)]

Bruce, much like I'd like to deny my ignorance of PCT (espoused theory of action), my behaviors (theory-in-use) as a program evaluator reveal otherwise. This article on "responsive evaluation" helped me to bridge the gap (see pp. 20-21) finally: http://education.illinois.edu/CIRCE/Publications/1975_Arts_Eval.pdf .

As for the tears, perhaps the experience relates to the following quote on page 22:

"Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?" - Henry David Thoreau (Walden)

Thank you!

Chad

Chad Green, PMP
Program Analyst
Loudoun County Public Schools
21000 Education Court
Ashburn, VA 20148
Voice: 571-252-1486
Fax: 571-252-1633

"If you want sense, you'll have to make it yourself." - Norton Juster

Bruce Nevin <bnhpct@GMAIL.COM> 11/13/2012 1:17 PM >>>

Chad,

I'm not sure why you ask me this. If the affectless tears were an effect of
reorganization then more was going on than you have said. If you were
unable to control a variable of vital importance to you, you haven't said
so. Nor have you described any change in your behavior (your control of
perceptions) such as might result from reorganization.

Maybe just a physiological effect of sleep deprivation?

Some of us have suggested that if you want to experience reorganization,
just keep studying and applying PCT. For examples, see Phil Runkel's dialog
with Bill <http://www.livingcontrolsystems.com/files/books_videos.html#dia>.

/B

···

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 11:45 AM, Chad Green <Chad.Green@lcps.org> wrote:

[From Chad Green (2012.11.09.1145 EDT)]

Bruce, perhaps you can help me to find an explanation for this experience:

A few weeks ago I woke up for no apparent reason in the middle of the
night. This was becoming a pattern so rather than forcing myself to sleep
I decided to pass the time by asking a question that I had never asked
myself. Off the top of my head I chose this one: What is the opposite of
virtue? After about 5 seconds I noticed something tickling my cheek. It
was a streaming tear. Many more followed thereafter. I experienced no
emotion as this unfolded. My mind was completely blank the entire time.

Is this an example of reorganization?

Best,
Chad

Chad Green, PMP
Program Analyst
Loudoun County Public Schools
21000 Education Court
Ashburn, VA 20148
Voice: 571-252-1486
Fax: 571-252-1633

"If you want sense, you'll have to make it yourself." - Norton Juster

>>> Bruce Nevin <bnhpct@GMAIL.COM> 11/9/2012 10:12 AM >>>
Further, reorganization can amount to the discovery of an affordance
(construction of a new perceptual input function), or the discovery of how
better to employ an existing affordance (e.g. refinement of skill), or of
how to employ it for a different purpose.

I was led to this thought because this discussion was on my mind as I was
reading in Phil Runkel's *People as Living Things*, specifically, the
paragraph that spans pp. 134-135, which talks of how "the nervous system
begins casting about for a reorganization that will reduce the total
error." In that process of rumination, was that paragraph an affordance?

/Bruce

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 8:58 AM, Bruce Nevin <bnhpct@gmail.com> wrote:

> To paraphrase: in general, any perception that is means of controlling a
> perception at a higher level is an affordance with respect to that higher
> level purpose. Only the more obvious cases -- obvious because perceived
as
> a stable aspect of the environment -- have been described as affordances,
> but the transient and nonce cases are no less so.
>
> /B
>
>
> On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 4:59 AM, Bill Powers <powers_w@frontier.net> > wrote:
>
>> Hello, all --
>>
>> After several days of on-and-off thinking about affordances, I think I
>> see a few new facets of the problem. What seems to have been building
up in
>> my head is the idea that affordances -- and actually feedback functions
in
>> general -- are controlled variables.
>>
>> This control is done at some lower level, a level in which the output
>> function is reorganized to use different lower-level systems, or selects
>> them (by sending reference signals to them) in some systematic way.
>>
>> This doesn't necessarily mean that we actually change the affordances of
>> specific items. It can mean that we select items according the results
we
>> intend to produce by using those items. The selection process determines
>> which affordance we actually use.
>>
>> This implies that the "standardization" of artifacts like tools is not
>> necessarily what we need. We need a variety of possible means of
control,
>> from which we can select according to the specific purpose we want to
carry
>> out. A relatively small number of people actually produce new items or
>> change old ones, but if they don't use the result themselves, they
create
>> them for the purpose of giving others new choices of means (e. g., so
the
>> designers can sell them). It is still the purposes of the user that
>> determine which feedback function or affordance will be used to satisfy
any
>> given set of purposes.
>> And a selection is needed because not everyone can use a given
affordance
>> -- I have a friend who, for target practice, selects a bow with a
>> 120-pound pull just to get a flat trajectory, a bow that I can scarcely
>> bend, much less use to shoot an arrow.
>>
>> It seems clearer to me now that the whole idea of a fixed feedback
>> function or affordance is a mistake. It's really the "behavioral
illusion"
>> in another disguise. It seems that the affordance in the existing
feedback
>> path is what controls behavior, but in fact the affordance itself is
>> controlled (by selecting one for use) as a way of achieving an end that
has
>> already been specified. The actual behavior involved relates to the
purpose
>> in the usual way, being adjusted according to the error and acting
through
>> the selected feedback path to make some perception match a reference
>> setting. The choice of feedback path or affordance is varied until the
>> specified goal is achieved.
>>
>> This choice process is simply one of the usual ways a lower-order
control
>> system is used to produce an input needed by a higher-order system. The
>> feedback path that the higher system sees includes all the lower-order
>> control systems involved.
>>
>> Best,
>>
>> Bill
>>
>
>

[Harms 2012-11-23 08:50 Eastern]

I had not seen the previous posts on this topic, but the clarity of this one is such that it stood on its own. This strikes me as an advancement and clarification. It helps HPCT in several ways, one of which is by enriching the examples that we can draw on in explaining it to newcomers.

Thanks, Bill.