The Claim on Human Conviviality in Cyberspace

The Claim on Human Conviviality in Cyberspace

Fil J. Arenas (The Air University, USA) and Daniel A. Connelly (Air University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2182-2.ch003
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This chapter sets out by defining conviviality in a way that allows the term to be simultaneously applied to face-to-face and virtual experiences. The educational context is introduced as one of many that can benefit from both types of experience. Impairment of the components of a shared learning experience (self, others, teacher) does not have to occur if educators understand the unique combination produced by the content to be learned plus the markers of the type of learning experience selected. Matching the content to the medium produces the optimal results. The authors conclude that conviviality in a specific application is not only possible, but, potentially highly productive in cyberspace, minimizing the logistical, high-risk, and cognitive constraints identified by Calandra & Puvirajah (2014) that can impair other forms of communication and specifically non-cyber learning experiences. This chapter contributes to new era of human interaction literature in the age of virtuality.
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Figure 1.

Scene from learning simulation depicting West Point


Technology today is an overwhelming force. The available handheld information devices are becoming a necessity for those that need to remain connected for real-time information. According to Hopkins and Turner (2012), there are more handheld devices available in the world than toothbrushes! Although technology experts and futurists proclaim that we are still very much in the transformational stages of technological evolution, many feel that we are barely in the age of discovery (Bonk, 2010). Millennials, the next generation entering society after the turn of the century, have adapted the use of their electronic devices throughout their daily routines. Unlike generations of the past, they communicate through texts and instant messages as opposed to phone calls. For entertainment, millennials prefer to personally download their music, stream movies, and choose dating partners online. The Internet becomes the information center for inquiries about restaurants, cars, medical providers, electronics, or various appliances or services (Burstein, 2013). Further, Millennials are not the only populations that are dependent on technology. By 2014, Facebook had an estimated billion members, while Twitter boasted 271 million users. Between 2012 to 2014 Facebook’s most prolific demographic group were new users from ages forty-five to fifty-four. Additionally, Twitter announced a 79 percent growth of their users between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-four during this same timeframe (Pew Research Center Internet Project, 2014). The “information superhighway” of the early 1990s has evolved into a collection of colorful metaphors today attempting to define these technological spaces such as “cyberspace,” “the Net,” “online,” and “the Web.” Regardless of the term, these computer networks allow the creation of new social spaces allowing people to meet and interact with one another (Wellman, Salaff, Dimitrova et al., 1996).


Conviviality As A Social-Cognitive Concept

Figure 2.

Scene from learning simulation depicting foyer of air operations center


Originally, the concept of conviviality was made popular by Illich’s book entitled Tools for Conviviality (1973) whereby he defined conviviality as “… an individual freedom realized in personal interdependence” (p. 11).

Further, Illich defined a convivial learning experience as an occurrence where the teacher and the student may switch roles, allowing the teacher to become the student and the student become the teacher. This idea of role swapping recognizes reciprocity as a key component for conviviality. Such role swapping scenarios can directly be used in multi-agent systems (MAS).

According to Caire (2008), There are several reasons to add conviviality as a social-cognitive concept to multi-agent systems models and theories.

First, requirements for multi-agent systems expressed by politicians and managers say that systems must be convivial, whereas multi-agent system researchers and developers use other concepts. As an analogy, consider a manager requiring of her system developers to have a convivial attitude during a meeting, in order for example to make it more efficient. To model the requirement, the developers may interpret the conviviality requirement as being autonomous to make suggestions, being reactive to react the discussion in the meeting to reach their goals, being pro-active to take the initiative and being goal-directed, and most importantly being social by interact with others to reach their goals.

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