Technological Affordances

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Yannick Rumpala:

"A relevant way to approach this notion of potentiality is to relate it to the concept of affordance, developed by the American psychologist James J. Gibson (1979) to capture the perceptual and practical aspects of an individual’s relationship to its environment. This concept allows two perspectives to be held simultaneously, referring both to what an object provides with or permits, as well as to what a subject can do. The interaction with an environment is thus made up of opportunities and constraints. How a device is perceived will influence what will be made of it. With respect to technologies, they can be invested by desires, expectations, or hopes, but this investment is relative to particular situations into which these technologies fit and which will have implications for their uses and practices. From this point of view, the concept of “technological affordances,” provided that its implications are well understood (Parchoma, 2014), offers a more specific analytical resource to help identify what artifacts enable, and therefore which of their potentialities can be investigated under the lens of “technological potentialism.” (