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Humanist Archives: Nov. 1, 2018, 7:31 a.m. Humanist 32.150 - wayfinding

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 150.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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    [1]    From: Nick Patterson 
           Subject: Another one... (14)

    [2]    From: William Pascoe 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.148: wayfinding? (28)

    [3]    From: Bill Benzon 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.148: wayfinding? (38)

    [4]    From: Matthew Battles 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.148: wayfinding? (13)

    [5]    From: Nick Patterson 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.148: wayfinding? (36)

        Date: 2018-10-31 12:14:23+00:00
        From: Nick Patterson 
        Subject: Another one...

Marshallese, not Micronesian but may have relevant references.

Complementarity of Cognitive and Experiential Ways of Knowing the Ocean in
Marshallese Navigation
Joseph Genz
First published: 04 August 2014

Nick Patterson, Music Librarian
Music & Arts Library, Columbia University
701 Dodge, 2960 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

        Date: 2018-10-31 11:54:15+00:00
        From: William Pascoe 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.148: wayfinding?

Hi WM,

It's great to see Humanist back again.

I always wondered how to read those stick maps. It's one thing to say that people can find their way across vast distances in the open seas to an island if they understand those maps, and another to learn specifically how to read their details (that sort of detail always seems a bit lacking in museums and galleries - how to read).

By good fortune, I work on some things with Dr Bill Palmer, a linguist who has studied Micronesian languages with a specific interest in questions of direction, orientation and places. So I asked him. His knowledge was limited too, but more than mine. The shells represent atolls and the sticks may represent prevailing wind direction, currents, and the diffraction patterns of waves around islands (which, I learned elsewhere, a competent sailor can feel in their balls from far away even when no patterns are visible in the waves themselves).

The book he recommended to me to learn more about it was 'East Is a Big Bird: Navigation and Logic on Puluwat Atoll' by Thomas Gladwin. Dr Bill Palmer's own research might be of interest too.

Kind regards,

Dr Bill Pascoe
eResearch Consultant
Digital Humanities Lab
Centre for 21st Century Humanities

T: 0435 374 677
E: bill.pascoe@newcastle.edu.au

The University of Newcastle (UON)
University Drive
Callaghan NSW 2308

        Date: 2018-10-31 10:10:25+00:00
        From: Bill Benzon 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.148: wayfinding?

>        Date: 2018-10-31 08:29:20+00:00
>        From: Willard McCarty 
>        Subject: wayfinding?
> One of the functions of Humanist that I found difficult to do without 


> My question is this: where would you go apart from the above better to 
> understand wayfinding in the Micronesian sense?

Edwin Hutchins, Cognition in the Wild, MIT Press
> Edwin Hutchins combines his background as an anthropologist and an open ocean racing sailor and navigator in this account of how anthropological methods can be combined with cognitive theory to produce a new reading of cognitive science. His theoretical insights are grounded in an extended analysis of ship navigation—its computational basis, its historical roots, its social organization, and the details of its implementation in actual practice aboard large ships. The result is an unusual interdisciplinary approach to cognition in culturally constituted activities outside the laboratory—"in the wild."
> Hutchins examines a set of phenomena that have fallen in the cracks between the established disciplines of psychology and anthropology, bringing to light a new set of relationships between culture and cognition. The standard view is that culture affects the cognition of individuals. Hutchins argues instead that cultural activity systems have cognitive properties of their own that are different from the cognitive properties of the individuals who participate in them. Each action for bringing a large naval vessel into port, for example, is informed by culture: the navigation team can be seen as a cognitive and computational system.
> Introducing Navy life and work on the bridge, Hutchins makes a clear distinction between the cognitive properties of an individual and the cognitive properties of a system. In striking contrast to the usual laboratory tasks of research in cognitive science, he applies the principal metaphor of cognitive science—cognition as computation (adopting David Marr's paradigm)—to the navigation task. After comparing modern Western navigation with the method practiced in Micronesia, Hutchins explores the computational and cognitive properties of systems that are larger than an individual. He then turns to an analysis of learning or change in the organization of cognitive systems at several scales. Hutchins's conclusion illustrates the costs of ignoring the cultural nature of  cognition, pointing to the ways in which contemporary cognitive science can be transformed by new meanings and interpretations.

This is a SUPERB book.

There’s also an extensive literature on wayfinding in animals. I looked into when doing my book on music (Beethoven’s Anvil). Why? Two things: 1) wayfinding is a core activity for any being the moves across the earth. The systems that do we are thus ancient and reliable. 2) Dead-reckoning is one of the core methods of wayfinding for animals, especially birds. Dead-reckoning requires excellent clocks, hence a sense of time, hence music.

Bill B

Bill Benzon



        Date: 2018-10-31 11:28:07+00:00
        From: Matthew Battles 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.148: wayfinding?

One classic encounter with wayfinding in this sense—with broad theoretical
STS & HCI applicability, although that's not its primary
orientation—is *Cognition
in the Wild* (MIT), Edwin Hutchins's study of navigation in Polynesian
practice and aboard ships of the U.S. Navy.

matthew battles
associate director, metaLAB (at) harvard 
berkman klein center for internet & society 

        Date: 2018-10-31 11:37:54+00:00
        From: Nick Patterson 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.148: wayfinding?

*"My question is this: where would you go apart from the above better to *
*understand wayfinding in the Micronesian sense?"*


For older references, you might try:

Indigenous navigation and voyaging in the Pacific : a reference guide /
compiled by Nicholas J. Goetzfridt

We, the navigators : the ancient art of landfinding in the Pacific / David
Lewis ; Sir Derek Oulton, editor.

For something more recent, perhaps checking the references of some recent
dissertations might yield useful leads:

Marshallese navigation and voyaging: Re-learning and reviving indigenous
knowledge of the ocean
Genz, Joseph Howard.University of Hawai'i at Manoa, ProQuest Dissertations
Publishing, 2008. 3312590.

Hope these may help.

Nick Patterson, Music Librarian
Music & Arts Library, Columbia University
701 Dodge, 2960 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

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