Jon Hoem - CV

Førsteamanuensis ved Institutt for kunstfag, Høgskolen på Vestlandet – Bergen.

Underviser i og forsker på nye, digitale medier.

Jeg er opptatt av forholdet mellom medier og fysiske steder. For tiden jobber jeg mest med sfæriske medier og Robotassistert undervisning.

Min Dr.-avhandling om personlig publisering.

Siterte artikler og publikasjoner i Cristin.



14. juli 2017

Janusian affordances

Writing on an article about how students have used various presentation software for different purposes I have struggled with the term "affordance". My problem is about the duality of software, in this case presentation software, like Powerpoint. The software has a complex interface, which obviously holds a lot of signs with meaning connected to the software's underlying functionality. It may seem sensible to speak about software as a sign system, even in a semiotic sense. On the other hand Powerpoint is more than a system of signs with meaning and functionality. The software is also a tool, which is designed with some intended use. At the same time it can be used for multiple purposes. The primary use is making presentations, presentations that become sign systems in their own right.

Software holds a duality, being both a sort of sign system that is decoded by one user who use the software as a productive tool. At the same time another sign system that is experienced and decoded by the users who see the produced presentation. Both ways of use are facilitated by the same software. Therefore software used for productive purposes has two levels that are linked, but they should also be kept analytically apart.

The objects and environments that hold technological affordances have the faces of Janus. Janus being the Roman god of beginnings and endings, who was commonly portrayed with two faces. In this case one face can be seen as looking towards the perceived affordances that can be related to the producer, the other looking towards the perceived affordances related to the spectator.

Given that technologies in general, and authoring software in particular, can be used in different ways we can call the affordances they offer janusian affordances. This refers to the ability to conceive and hold multiple affordances, sometimes contradicting each other, simultaneously. 

I believe janusian affordances become useful when describing, discussing and analysing possibilities given by software in networked environments, with a clear focus on the duality tool – product / producer – consumer in mind. Janusian affordances will also in software that is not used on networked computers, like where a software can be used for multiple purposes and/or in combination with other software.

By the way. the animation was made with presentation software. You (in this case the user/spectator) can enjoy the moving image, a result of the affordances in the software used. However, to me (the producer) the same software gives completely different cation opportunities – janusian affordances in play.

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