Week 1: The First Slice

2 Overview ball 20160117Well, after work session 1, the ball looks exactly like I thought it would, leaving me wondering, “How will this be helpful?” It’s too early to throw in the towel, though. I did learn a few things:

  • Elmer’s glue does NOT stick to styrofoam, and hot glue tends to EAT styrofoam and to make early choices permanent choices.
  • So, use sewing pins to attach the labels to the facets!
  • It’s kinda hard to cut through styrofoam. Do not attempt after two beers or more.
  • Your roommate may be very confused when you start talking to the air and she doesn’t realize you are recording. So, maybe just talk to her directly. An unexpected “live” co-learner!
  • The ball is definitely limiting the number and type of relationships I can represent physically. Unless I start drilling holes through the ball and building bridges across its surface. Which I might do. Pipe cleaners, anyone?

Perhaps more importantly, I learned a few things about my understanding of sense making:

  • I know of several concepts that I do not yet know how relate to other concepts, so I kept these on a separate “TBD” sheet. A nice way to hold the space for future learning.
  • I am not sure of the relationship between “indwelling another” and “empathy.” What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Week 1: The First Slice

  1. First, what a fun project! Thanks for including me!

    Indwelling another and empathy… I’m not sure that indwelling necessarily begets empathy, though it is certainly a good way of going about it, if I understand your meaning. Like, “walk a mile in his shoes to know what it feels like to [fill in the blank]?” Well, what if I walk a mile in his shoes and I still can’t fathom why he responded the way did. Do I lack empathy? Hmmm… most confusing. Did I completely miss your meaning?

    Also, as for confirmation, I think you’re on the right track, but I agree that it’s just not quite that. Maybe more like composition? How do arrange, or compose, these various parts to make sense of their interrelatedness? I’m thinking of making sense of data. Depending on how I organize the data, I may understand different things. Pulling various data together into a visual representation (like an SNA map), we may be able to make sense of parts of the system that we might not have otherwise understood. Understanding – did you have that? I can’t recall now.

    As you can see, I followed your lead of steam of consciousness. And I typed (actually swyped) it on my phone, so excuse typos and the like.

    Most enjoyable. I look forward to the next part?

    1. Hi, Jean! Great to have your insights here as a fellow tactile artist 🙂 Yes, you caught my meaning correctly; I think your “walk a mile” example is apt. I have read that the psychology literature distinguishes between “perspective taking” and “empathy,” where the latter involves feelings, beliefs, and desires and the former only involves thoughts (Preston and de Waal 2002). I wonder if the “walk a mile” is only “perspective taking”? But really, if you actually do “walk the mile,” that is, use your whole self when indwelling the other, how could you avoid having empathy?

      And, I LOVE your thought about sense making as composition. That really captures the “making” part, doesn’t it? Analytic philosophers are the ones who came up with the “discovery” vs “confirmation” distinction, and analytic philosophers are defined by their neglect of the role of the body in knowing, and usually also of “constructing” knowledge. I totally don’t have “composition” or “understanding” on my ball yet. This is great!

      Preston, S. D., & de Waal, F. B. M. (2002). Empathy: Its ultimate and proximate bases. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 25(01), 1–72. http://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X02000018

  2. As it turns out, I have been mulling over something I read about empathy – that the ability to empathize with one another is something that people seem to gain through face-to-face conversation. So suggests Sherry Turkle in the opening chapter of her book, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age (2015). Another interesting chapter deals with self-reflection. Having recently read much of the book, I am also aware, Bethany, that this platform for dialogue about sense-making is different than a face-to-face conversation. (Just one notable difference is that I am able to take some time to revise what I say before clicking “Post Comment”.) And it will be interesting to see what perspectives will actually be shared, and the extent to which a shared perspective might effectively prompt any of us to examine our own perspectives and assumptions. That is, say, to make us each acknowledge that chisel in our hand and consider whether one of another quality – or another tool altogether – might serve us better.

    1. Yes! Turkle was referenced in the Constructionism text I showed in my overview video (of course, not her new book; the text was from 1991). I agree that empathy is best formed through face-to-face interaction because I firmly believe that the fact that we exist in bodies matters to everything we do, including empathy. I realize that writing comments is also totally different than free conversation, literally because of the keyboard (again, a reason our bodies matter). The keyboard slows my thoughts down; makes them visual; enables self-editing…And yes, because of the dampened empathy effect, I wonder if ideas prompted through the comments feature on this site will be as effective (?) at helping me examine assumptions, etc. as face-to-face conversations I have here in East Lansing. I think what I’ll do is start noting in my journal when a conversant is online or in person (or both!). Thanks, Nathan! So great to have you commenting 🙂

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