What comes to mind when a social or cognitive scientist thinks about “human interaction”? The answer surely depends on the scientist’s field of study and most of us learn images of interaction implicitly as part of being socialized into a scientific community. In some corners of artificial intelligence, the prototypical interaction is a sequence of turns in which strings of characters or symbols are exchanged. For some conversational analysts, the interactions of interest are mostly verbal, telephone conversations, for example. Ethnographers of speaking may focus on face-to-face interactions, and that formulation draws our attention to facial expression in addition to verbal behavior. To go further in this direction, the phrases that describe our default images of interaction become awkward. Many of us speak about “multimodal interaction,” but at the workshop leading to this volume, Emmanuel Schegloff reminded us that this phrase is an oxymoron. So, shall we simply say “interaction” and hope that others’ imaginations are as rich as our own? My personal preference is to emphasize the way participants to an interaction coinhabit a shared environment. No matter how they are described, our default images of human interaction have powerful consequences for the way we do science. Such images guide decisions about where we look for evidence concerning the nature of human interaction. They shape our understandings of what the observed evidence means. (What is the nature of human interaction, and what phenomena are our theories supposed to explain?) Finally, such images affect how we chose to explain the origins of contemporary human interaction
Research Professor. Director at Learning Change Project – Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, sustainability, thinkers, ++
Giorgio Bertini does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from these papers, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
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