I’d heard the terms of affordances and constraints in rhetoric/composition discussions, as well as in discussions particularly with design (so Norman made the connection where that came from much clearer). Honestly, I was never really familiar with where these terms came from, and it actually surprised me that it was from biology or the hard sciences. Perhaps moreso, it was weird to think about that considering Gibson seems to warn that taking these words outside of the biological context really makes these terms complicated and the water becomes murky. I somewhat agree with him, but I can also see the purpose of using these terms, particularly as Norman does in design.

Admittedly, I had the hardest time wrapping my head around Bateson’s piece about the mind being both immanent and transcendent. I did understand that based on our approach of evolution and how the world works, based on the Pythagorean concern for pattern over substance, this had limited our understanding of the mind and how it works, as well as how humans should be viewing the environment. For instance, when Bateson said, “if the organism has destroyed its environment, it has in fact destroyed itself” (457). That made sense to me, as did his example about the blind man and the cane, and that when using the cane, the cane is part of the mental system. Knowing where to “slice it” as he says seems tricky though and I’m still trying to work through that.

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In particular, I started putting together Norman’s discussion of affordances and constraints with my previous look at World of Warcraft‘s interface in particular. For instance, I’d discussed that one of the affordances of the WoW interface was it’s ability to be modified. However, I think perceived affordance might be a better term for discussing what the interface does and does not allow for. I think it also be useful to discuss the cultural conventions used in World of Warcraft game, both form the standpoint of the game being a game created in the United States, but even moreso by it following expected conventions of an RPG game and using intricate menu systems (I even think the in-depth menu systems that some RPG games like those in the Final Fantasy system use.) I’m mostly thinking in the sense, that while there is a lot of customizing potential in the World of Warcraft interface, it can also be very intimidating to new players (because the game is well established and extensive too), which means that the customization isn’t necessarily an affordance for everyone. I think in a future case study this will likely be a theory I follow up with, as I think it has a lot of potential for developing discussion about the interfaces in online game spaces.

 

 

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