Jacob Lee's Blog – November 2009 Archive (3)

Systems: an extended glance at the obvious. Part I

Which among these three human artifacts is best described as a system: a hunting net, a shoe, or a gasoline powered motor? I think many of us are inclined to answer the third as being the most system-like. Why?

When one is asked to give prototypical examples of some concept, it is natural enough that we choose those examples with which we are familiar. When we think about a concept we often do so with these prototypical examples in mind. This entails a kind of ethnocentric coloring… Continue

Added by Jacob Lee on November 19, 2009 at 12:00am — 2 Comments

Engineered Objects, Systems, and State Spaces

Some anthropologists are uncomfortable with describing human-environment interactions in the language of systems. The concern seems to be that human-environment interactions don't work, in some fundamental way, like computers, engines, or other proto-typically designed things. These interactions are held to be too complex, too non-linear, too open for the systems metaphor to be appropriate, or at least useful. For my part, I think that the concept of a system is entailed by any… Continue

Added by Jacob Lee on November 13, 2009 at 8:30pm — 6 Comments

Some thoughts on intelligence and culture as constraint and resource

Maybe a year or more ago, in another context, John McCreery wrote:

As an anthropologist I both feel attracted to describing culture as “the panoply of resources that show that a place is unique and distinctive” and also aware that attaching culture to place may be too limiting. Consider diasporas, for example, or pop culture worlds like those of gamers or musicians that spill across the boundaries and distances that separate geographical spaces.

What strikes me most,…

Added by Jacob Lee on November 5, 2009 at 9:00am — No Comments


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