- What makes a kid play with the same toy over and over again?
Or, here’s another way to phrase it:
- What is the structure of interactions between agents which result in ongoing engagement of the learners, the growing of shared meanings and playing with shared cognitive artifacts?
Interactions can be defined as the micro-events that occur between autonomous agents in processes that eventually result in a healthy agents and a healthy network. On the most basic level of life, autonomous organisms solve problems of encounters with the environment through mechanisms such as a selectively permeable membrane, a group of energy currencies such as those used for transport processes across a membrane, a set of catalysts responsible for modulating the rates at which reactions to the environment take place and mechanisms for stabilizing metabolism. More advanced adaptive interactions include motility, multicellular organization, and sensorimotor systems, leading to the development of the mind as a neurosomatic activity which establishes a sense of self in the environment.
Motility is the baseline for the appearance of cognition; in collaborative learning we should expect to see that a knowledge flow which is open and free is the baseline for the appearance of Surowiecki’s “wisdom of crowds” phenomenon. Online interactions are like non-terminating data processing algorithms, in that they are defined lists of instructions for completing tasks, but the length of the process cannot be determined in advance. If they are well designed, they extend our adaptive interactions in ways that allow us to move, use our senses to touch one another, and organize ourselves into complex systems.
It’s that kind of complex organization that provides a venue for self-realization. As our systems become more complex, they give us the opportunity for increasing individuation.
As de Chardin has said, “union differentiates.”