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Tuesday

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Origins of Human Group Behavior

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by Brian Haven
@ 12:42 AM

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After reading a little Malinowski for my Theory and Practice in Anthropoly class, I stumbled across a paragraph that stopped me dead in my tracks. Specifically it related to my thesis essay. In general, Malinowski briefly discusses (The Group and the Individual in Functional Analysis from Argonauts of the Western Pacific) the early discovery of an environmental factor (fire, use of a stick or stone) and how it becomes part of a culture, integrated into collective use and transmitted through tradition to later generations. This resonates because it addresses some of the foundational aspects of my thesis, an area I haven't had a chance to explore deeply and articulate in my essay.

As for my thesis essay specifically (here in the Interaction Design graduate program at CMU we do both a thesis essay and thesis project), I am looking at participation--in the context of individuals that engage with products (artifacts, services, systems, environments--products in the broader definition of the term) and use those products in ways that were not intended or expected by the original designers. Further, I'm interested in the shift in that behavior that causes many people to engage in the same basic activity and seek out a community that will encourage and support the efforts of the individuals, and give them a forum to share their knowledge. This particular section of the article provides some great foundation to the background section of my essay that supports some basic human behaviors that help explain why people might be motivated to initiate more meaningful interactions with products and seek communities with which to share their endeavors.

This sparked an interest after I received an inspirational response from my advisor, Craig Vogel, about the relationship of my topic to these original behaviors.

 

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