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Research Seminar Social Technologies: (slight) change of schedule + literature
Posted: 09 December 2015 03:13 PM
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Dear students,


in the 2nd semester a brand new course, Research Seminar Social Technologies, will be given by Max van Duijn.

I would like to draw your attention to two things:


I) course schedule has been slightly altered in order to give some more time in between classes for you to read. For more info, please check this link:
http://mediatechnology.leiden.edu/programme/calendar/


II) Hopefully you’ve been good this year to put the course literature on your wishlist for Santa:
1) http://www.bol.com/nl/p/thinking-big/9200000020311046/
2) http://www.vanstockum.nl/boeken/kinderboeken/speel—en-leerboeken—12-jaar/gb/origins-of-language-hurford-james-r-9780198701880/


Course teacher really insists on getting the actual book.

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Posted: 07 February 2016 05:08 PM   [ # 1 ]
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I have a question about the literature: Max, could you specify now which parts/chapters of both books we will read? Or we should know the whole content by the end of the course?

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Posted: 15 February 2016 01:29 PM   [ # 2 ]
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Hi Paulina and all,

We will read all of Hurford’s book and, depending on our progress, nearly all chapters of Gamble et al.

For those who have not yet bought the books, it is still possible to get them in my favourite bookshop. Please let me know before coming Wednesday 17th, noon, whether you would like me to order them for you. The prices are as follows:

Gamble, Gowlett and Dunbar: Thinking big             28.95
James Hurford: Origins of language                     26.95

If we order a few, we get a 10% discount, so let’s see.

All best, Max

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Posted: 20 February 2016 02:44 PM   [ # 3 ]
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Dear all!

For the first meeting of the Research Seminar Social Technologies on Monday 29th of February, I’d like you to read the following two pieces of text:

1) A few excerpts of the first chapter of Tomasello’s 1999 book The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition, which can be found here:
http://people.ucsc.edu/~gwells/Files/Courses_Folder/documents/Tomasello.Problemabridged.pdf

2) The first chapter (p. 1-18) of Hurford’s The Origins of Language (see earlier posts).

We’ll plan the reading for the following weeks at the second meeting, depending on how smooth we proceed with the basics.

I look much forward to getting started with this, it’s going to be a great endeavour.

All best, Max

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Posted: 26 February 2016 03:39 PM   [ # 4 ]
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Extra info on: “This first bipedal gait started the process of freeing the rhythm of breathing from that of walking and running”
(p.3 Hurford’s The Origins of Language)

When I read this, my first thought was: huh, what? This is what I found.

The Walkie-Talkie Theory: Bipedalism Was Necessary For Human Speech Evolution
Speech is a byproduct of the respiratory adjustments associated with walking upright on two legs. With bipedalism came a secondary and unrecognized consequence, the respiratory plasticity necessary for speech. Quadrupedal species must synchronize their locomotion and respiratory cycles at a ratio of 1:1(strides per breath), a coupling required by the shared, rhythmic use of the thoracic complex (sternum, ribs, and associated musculature), and the need to endure impacts of the forelimbs during running. Without such sychronization, running quadrupeds would fall face first into the dust because their thorax would be only a floppy air-filled bag that could not absorb the shock of forelimb strikes. Human bipedal runners free of these mechanical constraints on the thorax employ a wide variety of phase-locked patterns (4:1, 3:1, 2:1 [most common], 1:1, 5:2, and 3:2), evidence of a more plastic coupling between respiratory rhythm and gait. The relative emancipation of breathing from locomotion permitted by bipedality was necessary for the subsequent selection for the virtuosic acts of vocalization we know as speech.

The contribution of bipedality to speech evolution has been neglected because linguists typically focus on higher-order cognitive and neurobehavioral events that occur from the neck up and overlook the neuromuscular processes that produce the modified respiratory movements known as speech.
Link: https://edge.org/response-detail/11132

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Posted: 27 February 2016 02:11 PM   [ # 5 ]
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The Origins of Language first chapter reminded me about the film “Quest for Fire (1981)” a great speechless film that gives an impression of ‘primitive’ communication of our ancient ancestors.
I have uploaded it to WeTranfer so you all can download and watch it if you are interested.

IMDB:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082484/

WeTransfer:
http://we.tl/WTMHcujwhl

 

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Posted: 03 March 2016 06:20 PM   [ # 6 ]
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Thinking Big was delivered within two days via https://www.managementboek.nl

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Posted: 03 March 2016 06:28 PM   [ # 7 ]
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Dear all,

Thanks Robbert—that’s a good advice! And just in case they’ve run out of stock too: Amazon.co.uk should be able to do overseas delivery in a couple of days.

For the next meeting, taking place on Monday the 21st, please read & eat:

Gamble et al.: Thinking Big - preface/introduction + ch 1 + ch 2
Hurford: Origins of Language - ch 1 + ch 2 + ch 3
Tomasello: Cultural Origins of Human Cognition - ch 1 (or excerpt via the link in earlier post)

We will go through the texts in class, so please make sure that you have your books/copies/prints in front of you!

Cheers, Max

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Posted: 07 March 2016 05:26 PM   [ # 8 ]
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In the last week of Essentials in Art and Music the paintings in Lascaux were mentioned. Working on the article about Representation I came across a fascinating TED-talk Genieve von Patzinger: Why are_these 32 symbols found in ancient caves all over europe? Here is the link and the paper: https://www.ted.com/talks/genevieve_von_petzinger_why_are_these_32_symbols_found_in_ancient_caves_all_over_europe?language=nl

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Posted: 12 March 2016 03:47 PM   [ # 9 ]
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Hi all,

My bookshop has a few extra units of Thinking Big (the green book by Gamble et al.) in stock—the price is EUR 26,10. If you are interested, let me know!

All best, Max

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Posted: 21 March 2016 11:51 AM   [ # 10 ]
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https://www.netflix.com/search/cooked

Is about the impact of cooking on evolution. (don’t know if it is based on Richard Wrangham’s book, tho)

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Posted: 21 March 2016 12:40 PM   [ # 11 ]
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It is commonly accepted that humans underwent more evolutionary changes than chimpanzees since their lineage divergence, estimated around 7 million years ago. This paper confronts this assumption, at least in the genetic inheritance, where it seems that chimpanzees had more changes in their chromosomes:

Bakewell, M. A., Shi, P., & Zhang, J. (2007). More genes underwent positive selection in chimpanzee evolution than in human evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(18), 7489-7494.

But this does not necessarily mean that the phenotypes changed in the same way. In deed, when we look at fossils evidences, we have the perception that the human lineage had a bigger evolutionary change than chimpanzees.

 

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Posted: 21 March 2016 12:48 PM   [ # 12 ]
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The emergence of a novel language developed by twins is called CRYPTOPHASIA, this is the Wikipedia page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptophasia

Riccardo

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Posted: 21 March 2016 04:29 PM   [ # 13 ]
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Hi all,

Thanks for all contributions and interesting discussion today!

For the next meeting (on the 4th of April) please read Ch 3-4 of Hurford and Ch 2-3 of Thinking Big.

If you would like to look at Simon Kirby’s lecture in more detail, please see here:
https://youtu.be/geetqwCcgl4

There is a recent paper by him and Monica Tamariz which can be found here:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352250X15002225

If anyone would be interested in doing a brief, 5-10 minute presentation about this article next meeting, please be welcome!
I’m looking for volunteers (can be groups of 2-3 max.) in each class to do this.

For the others, there is also a small homework assignment: please note down one interesting question that was answered (to at least some extent) when you did the reading. Write down the question and the answer on ~1/2 A4 and bring it with you—I will ask some people to tell us about your question and answer in brief.

SO: if you would like to read and present Tamariz & Kirby, let me know asap—only a few people can do this. The others bring a question-and-answer with them next meeting.

All best, Max

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Posted: 01 April 2016 08:18 AM   [ # 14 ]
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Hi all,

Attached to this post you find the a short version of the questionnaire used by Dunbar et al to establish how many active social contact people have. If you’d like to get an idea how they’ve established the “Dunbar layers” (5-15-50-150-500-1500), you could try to fill it out. However, try to act AS IF you didn’t now about the theory! smile

All best, Max

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Posted: 05 April 2016 01:28 PM   [ # 15 ]
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Dear all,

Please find below the schedule for the next meetings:

25-4 | “Displacement” in language and thought | Hurford 3-5, Gamble et al. 4

02-5 | The bonding gap | Hurford 6-7, Gamble et al. 5-6

09-5 | Bonding big societies | Hurford 7-8, Gamble et al. 6-7

27-5 | optional class | I’ll be in 413 and you are encouraged to come and ask questions/discuss ideas while working on your projects

02-6 | SYMPOSIUM Social Technologies, presentations of group- or individual work-in-progress

30-6 | hand in work

The question/assignment for the symposium is as discussed:
Identify and investigate a “social technology”, i.e. a device, tool, or (cultural) practice that facilities our management of social relationships. Think big and cast your net wide: at the symposium, you are free to present and argue for daring hypotheses. This is in the spirit of the entire class: for example, both “language” and the practice of “making campfires” are seen as social technologies.
Alternatively, you can also create a new social technology and reflect on its working + the process of making it.

(If you weren’t there, please consult fellow students about this!)

All best, Max

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