Interactions and Layers

Activity Theory (or is it Actor-network Theory (ANT)) considers the case of a navigator interacting with the Chartmaker through the medium of the Chart. Fair enough, but what is not highlighted is that the Navigator and the Chartmaker exist at different levels. The Navigator is working at the level of individual voyages / operational level. A voyage make take days or weeks. The Chartmaker is working at a higher level - supporting multiple voyages and the timescale of the chart may be years or decades of use.

The Chart artifact acts as a bridge between levels.

The argument of ANT is that the bridge could be an artifact (a Chart), or a person (someone knowledgable of the coastline). The point Activity Theory would make is that unlike someone showing the way (who can have their own biases, motives. goals, etc.), the Chart only reflects the Chartmake's biases, motives, goals, etc. See Wood & Fels [1] for an analysis of these human factors in map making.

Consider a similar situation - a security guard on a building entrance, vs. a electronic Id gate. What happens when the electronic gate does not recognise the card? Some alternative access to the decision maker (e.g. an concierge) must be be available.

1. Wood, D. & Fels, J. 2008. The Natures of Maps.
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