Saturday, May 29, 2010

Integral representations

As I've been working through writing up the comparative analyses, one thing that's struck me is that a key differentiator of practice styles and expertise is how much (and in what ways) practitioners make the representations themselves matter to the participants and to the proceedings, as opposed to being (in varying ways) a sideshow, background, or decoration.

For example, one of the Shaping aspects in Category B (practitioner interaction with participants) is the "degree of intervention to get participants to look at the representation". It occurred to me that, while all of the studied practitioners used various physical and verbal means to do this, the style, purpose, and strength with which they did this varied greatly. Both of the 'expert' sessions (Hab Crew and Remote Science Team) did this frequently and in depth throughout the session, but also did it with a degree of naturalness. They did not have to use much special force or emphasis because, due in large part to their expertise, the representation was integral to the proceesings, embedded in how and why the group was working.

This isn't something that comes for free and takes a lot of factors to achieve, but the phrase integral representations (seemingly widely used in mathematics) seems to me to sum up a lot of what this research is aiming toward: how to make such representations integral to their participants and audience, how to make them matter, and in what ways.

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