analysis, social organization, classroom talk

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Originally uploaded by angie cat
I've just returned from Townsville. I'm really happy to have had that brief opportunity to visit. I found myself thinking that i liked Rockhampton better! what do you know!
This first pic was taken in the inner city around the mall where most of the shops are closed down and boarded up (such a pity).

The next pic is of the harbour and it's pretty.

Originally uploaded by angie cat

The final pic was taken from the same spot, only looking along the boardwalk that circles around part of the harbour.

Originally uploaded by angie cat

Saturday, October 25, 2008

my house down south

bunny 4
Originally uploaded by angie cat
My nephew Josh has just visited Ballarat. He kindly took some pictures of my house in Buninyong. Here's a nice one of the front of the house. So good to know that plants and trees are still alive despite TOTAL water restriction in the area.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Structure of the game: some thoughts

The children play a computer game on a Wiggles DVD. The DVD begins with music and an introduction from the Wiggles:
C: everybody loosen up
(1.5)↔((music playing))
C: let's get ready to ↑Wi↓ggle

After the introduction (which can be skipped over or cut short by a click of the mouse), the game provides choices: clicking on a certain icon leads to the selection of one game.

C: °we're planning a surprise party [for Dorothy°]
N: [which one do you want H]
N: the ↑sing-along one?

One game is about moving the Wiggles big red car to various places such as the bakery, the toyshop, the magic shop and the park. All the places are pictured on a map and the game player must move the car to get around.

The first place is the bakery (let’s call this section 1 of the game)
C: the first thing we need to do↑ (0.2)is [buy some bread from the=
M: [( ) ((pointing at the screen))
C: =↑bakery ↓
M: click [the arrow]
C: [you need to]help us get there (0.2) by moving our big red car
to the bakery (0.2) our big red car can be moved by clicking on
the arrows (0.4) if you need help↑ click on the big red ↑car=
M: =watch it
C: okay le::t's go::::

So C (the computer) provides the first destination (the bakery) and directions for playing the game (how to make the car icon move, and how to get help). M’s utterance (click the arrow) indicates that she knows how to make the car move before the computer gives directions. She also directs H (her younger brother, to watch it).

The other sections are as follows:

Section 2 Getting to the garage
C: we're ready (0.2)can you help us get to the gar↓age so we can fix the big red car

Section 3 Getting to the toyshop

C: we're rea↑dy (0.2)can you help us get to the toy shop (0.2) so we can buy some new juggling balls for ↑Hen↓ry

Section 4 Getting to the park
C: we're ready (0.2) we're ready (0.2) can you help us get to the park so we can ↑play

Section 5 Getting to Wag’s house
C: we're ready can you help us get to Wag's house so we can drop off a ↓bo↑ne

Section 6 Getting to the duckpond(??)
C: ((dog barks))(0.4)we're ↑rea↓dy can you help us get to the du-

Section 7 thanks for all your help
C: thanks for all your help we couldn't have done it without you(0.6)come back soon
(3.0)+((car takes off backwards then races back across screen))

Once this section of the game as been reached, the player is returned to the main screen and the original options (which game to play?):

C: let's get ready to wiggle

Note: as per usual the transcription is thrown out a little by the blogging html (for formatting) but I think readers will get the gist. I have also added in a new symbol ↔ it means that the action in brackets occurs during the silence in talk represented in ( ). So ...

(1.5)↔((music playing))

This means that music can be heard playing during a break in talk that lasts for 1.5 seconds.

Now, I wonder what interesting aspects of social organization can be found when children play this game?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

queued for review

Over the last few days I've been watching my submitted journal article for signs of progress. The journal I submitted to has a good system that records the on-going progress on the article. up until this morning, my article was queued for review which means it was waiting to be sent out to someone. now it has gone out to a first reviewer. While I'm sure it will be many weeks before I have a verdict on the fate of the article, it helps to see its progress even if it is slow.

meanwhile, I've been doing some more reading on formulations. Volume II of Sacks provides some information and discussion about formuation. For example, I read a little this morning (p. 46) about how a person might complain about a conversation using the formulation "you interrupted me". Since I'm having some trouble on discerning formulations, I went into one of my transcripts and tried to find an example, of where one of the kids has made a formulation. i think the following contains a pretty clear cut example:

B: oh Aurora don't do::n't o::wh
B: no I said don't
A: ↑why

So, B's use of "said don't" formulates what she has said previously rather than just repeating what she has said. In this way, I think that B is pointing out that A has not complied with what was a directive. A has continued to play the game rather than giving B a turn.

In a previous post, I wrote about Sack's ideas on use of reference terms to avoid formulations. I wonder if'dem' is used by B in place of naming the images on the computer screen (of animal tiles), and if A's utterance provides the formulation.

B: yeah um because us have ↑to (0.4) link dem
A: what you have to do is link animals

What do you think?

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Originally uploaded by angie cat

I've planted some lettuce and it is just taking off. Again, these plants are probably too close together but perhaps it won't matter as I will just pick leaves off here and there to make salad sandwiches.

Friday, October 10, 2008

too close

Originally uploaded by angie cat
yes, any gardeners out there will realise that i have planted the two rhubarb plants too close together. I am about to transplant one to another pot. still, the good news is that they are growing.

I've just done my daily check of things I'm watching closely. These include:
my bank account
my proposal for aera (will it be accepted?)
my journal article on transcription (the journal has it but it is in a queue to be reviewed)
my work emails (another journal has had a draft article for four months) (no harm in looking, right?)

Saturday, October 04, 2008


One way to examine talk in interaction during computer activity by young children is to examine their formulations: that is, what children formulate through talk about what is going on during their use of computers.

Formulations, according to its definition applied in conversation analysis, was first used by Harvey Sachs in his lecture materials. For example: Sacks referred to the possibility of using “group therapy session” to formulate “what’s taking place” (Sacks, 1995, p. 515) in the therapy data he was analysing. In relation to this concept, Sacks made the observation that participants also occasionally formulated the sessions as such. He posed the questions “When, Why? And with what kind of consequences?” (Sacks, 1995, p. 515). Sacks follows the questions with consideration of issues in relation to social scientists:

“Running along with that is, of course, an issue which we should like to get into position to raise and deal with: Have we any special right to assign name-formulations to the actions, upon, say, occasions when they are not generally assigned by participants? Can we construct rules for doing formulating – generally, and then for doing specific formulating, i.e., saying it’s a ‘group therapy session,’ for example. What does that hold for?” (Sacks, 1995, p. 515)

Sacks makes a nice (CA) point about the use of formulations. It is that people don’t just “do formulations” (Sacks, 1995, p. 516); they are used to do something:

“At any rate, in each case that a formulation of a setting, or an identity, is done, there’s something that has some line of consequences, and some analysable basis for participants, which can be one differentiated from another possible formulation ,and also from not doing it at all.” (Sacks, 1995, p. 516)

Sacks discusses the use of “indicator terms” to consider how people are able to not provide formulations of setting. Indicator terms encompass words such as as ‘here’, ‘now’, ‘there’, ‘later’, ‘soon’, ‘this’, ‘that’ and so on. He considers some of their properties. For example, they are reference terms. Another property is that a second use of a term in a sentence may have a different referent from its first use in a sentence said by another. Sacks uses these two sentences to illustrate: “I went to the movies”. “I stayed home.” (Sacks, 1995, p. 517). To return, to the group therapy session –Sacks shows how ‘here’ might be used to refer to the group-therapy session without formulating it as the group therapy session.
“So, there are ways in which the spatial indicators involve time and the temporal indicators invoke space as well.” (Sacks, 1995, p. 519)

To illustrate this claim, Sacks uses “You were hysterical last week” where participants in the group therapy session mean specifically “Not last week, but for the two hours we met, and in this place.” (Sacks, 1995, p. 519).

Sacks suggests that looking at a chain of indicators may show something about the usage of the indicator terms i.e. “Given their sheer abstractness, if any set of terms could be capable of invoking the sheer fact of the setting without the specification of the setting, it would usually be these.” (Sacks, 1995, p. 520).
So, overall the discussion of the use of indicator terms shows how members go about doing “something” without having to formulate what that something is. The indicator terms are integral to that because they refer to those things, require shared understandings of them, and stand for the actual formulation of them.

Sacks addresses the problematic nature of formulating setting (for example): “we’ll never get a stable formulation in which these things stand one to one – and if they had to stand one to one, there would be an enormous mess.” (Sacks, 1995, p. 521). [This is an interesting comment because Sacks is in a way alluding to context as some would have it, and pointing out the problems with it (and researchers’ conceptualizations of it.

Here’s a nice quote that Sacks uses in relation to why not formulating setting is a useful thing:

“Again, then, what I want to be able to is that there can be ways of invoking the fact of a setting, and a bunch of its features – whatever the features are of settings – without any specifications of which formulation of setting, which formulation of participants, being involved.” (Sacks, 1995, p. 521)

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Originally uploaded by angie cat

They say that rhubarb won't grow in Rockhampton. I'll keep you posted.

Today I started working on my part of a draft article on transcription and self-study. This is a collaborative effort with my friend Robyn Brandenburg. Robyn has kickstarted with some writing about her reflections on transcription in her self-study. Today, i wrote some of the literature review and fiddled with the abstract and a paragraph for discussion.

This week I've finally finished watching all my data recordings and made transcripts (rough) that record some of the talk and interaction involving the kids and computers. Now got to get to the more serious business of analyzing the transcript for the 'Click on the big red car' article.

Other things - I received a copy of the thesis on transcription by Dr Margaret Luebs. This is her dissertation which examined transcription, particularly in the areas of linguistics, discourse analysis and conversation analysis. It's a good read and an interesting piece of research. cqu library has bought the copy of the thesis (from the University of Michigan) and will have it bound and catalogued for the library. it will be a great resource for me and others (smile).