ory depends on the availability
of sufficient resources within the
limited capacity of working memory.” 2) Novice writers with the
lack of task schema in long-term
memory resources may “frequently
focus on retrieving relevant content rather than developing conceptual plans.” 3) Working memory
constraints can affect “the development and functional use of global planning,” “the structural complexity of texts,” and “reading texts
critically in a macrostructure of
the text level” [ 7]. The structure of
a text is something that needs to
be made; thus, it exists as indeterminate and needs to expand. But
it should present a logical order for
I argue that MS Word, with
respect to all those needs, presents
novice writers with one simple
structure, while ignoring spatial
and mediated activities. The theoretical background for the need
for tools based on spatial activity
comes from the embodied nature
of abstract reasoning. George
Lakoff explains metaphorical
extensions of bodily movements
to abstract domains as follows:
“Schemas that structure our bodily
experience preconceptually have
a basic logic. Preconceptual structural correlations in experience
motivate metaphors that map that
logic onto abstract domains. Thus,
what has been called abstract
reason has a bodily basis in our
everyday physical functioning” [ 8].
Among bodily schemas, for
example, the configuration of a
baby in his mother’s arms is a
container schema, which is used
to describe a certain conceptual
category. The whole configura-
tion of the relationship between
the baby and the mother con-
sists of a gestalt structure. But
we don’t think usually that our
spatial, bodily activity is related
to abstract reasoning; spatial
image schemas based on bodily
movements such as part-whole
relations and cycle image sche-
mas structure our understand-
ing and organize thought.
I would like to thank Meredith Davis,
Martha Scotford, Christopher Martin
Anson, Christopher B. Mayhorn, and
Erik Stolterman for providing me
with advice, references, and feedback.
I thank the writers in the study for
sharing the writing process with me.
1. Vygotsky, L.S. Mind in Society: The Development
of Higher Psychological Processes. M. Cole, V.
John-Steiner, S. Scribner, and E. Souberman, eds.
Harvard University Press, 1978, 55.
2. Vygotsky, L. and Luria, A. Tool and symbol in
child development. In The Vygotsky Reader. R. Van
der Veer and J. Valsiner, eds. Blackwell Publishers,
3. Ibid., 266.
4. Leontiev, A. A. Psychology and the Language
Learning Process. C.V. James, ed. Pergamon Press,
5. See 1., 54-55. The order of sentences was
slightly changed from the original source.
6. Maturana, H.R. and Varela, F.J. The Tree
of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human
Understanding. Shambhala Publications, Boston,
MA, 1998, 138.
7. McCutchen, D., Teske, P., and Bankston, C.
Writing and cognition: Implications of the cognitive architecture for learning to write and writing to
learn. In Handbook of Research on Writing: History,
Society, School, Individual, Text. C. Bazerman, ed.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2008, 447-465.
8. Lakoff, G. Women, Fire and Dangerous Things:
What Categories Reveal About the Mind. The
University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1987, 278.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joohee Huh received a Ph.D. in
design at North Carolina State
University in the College of
Design. Her dissertation topic was
the dynamic interplay between
spatialization of written units in
writing activity and functions of tools on the comput-
er. Her research interests include embodied imagi-
nation, creativity, learning environments, and writing.
March + April 2013
© 2013 ACM 1072-5520/13/03 $15.00