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James Paul Gee's Affinity Spaces

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Tanya Perkins

on 10 March 2013

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Transcript of James Paul Gee's Affinity Spaces

Affinity Spaces: A New way of Thinking About Community! The term "affinity space" was coined
by literacy scholar James Paul Gee "Community" as a concept is okay, but I think we can do better than that! Gee proposes that, instead of thinking about groups of people as being either "in" or "out" of a community, we think of spaces where people interact. This is his starting point.

Spaces can be real, tangible spaces, like a classroom or a baseball field: OR they can be virtual spaces, like an
online discussion forum or game
such as World of Warcraft. The
point is, that it's a place where
diverse groups of people can interact,
share ideas or creations, based on
common interests. Gee calls these kinds of spaces "semiotic social spaces."
"Semiotic" means the study of signs and symbols. In this case, "semiotic" refers to the ways that people interact in the space so as to create meaning that might be unique to (or descriptive of) the space and to the people using it. These spaces (whether a baseball field or an online game) share certain features:

1. Content--What the space is about
2. Generators--What creates content for the space
3. Interaction--What users do with the content and how they connect with each other around the content. Gee uses the example of a painting: The image is the content.
The artist was the generator.
The interaction is how it makes
you feel when you look at it, or maybe
it's the review you write about in in
your blog (which then, of course, becomes
still more content that you, as a user, have
generated! In affinity spaces, these terms
aren't mutually exclusive!) Affinity spaces have
one more common
They are how you
get into or out of
an affinity space.
Some portals are
as easy as walking
into the room
where the Mona
Lisa is hanging.
Other portals require keys, passwords and other
more complex means...
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