[Back] [Forward] [Contents] [Home]

3.4 Representation of agents

Perception is individual activity – there can be no common, generic perception. This fact forms the core of Gibson's concept of affordance. Affordances are contextual and relationally specific to individuals, with different individuals perceiving different affordances of the same thing.

If vision requires an agent who watches, taskscapes and soundscapes must be populated with beings that are themselves agents who watch and listen and 'act back'. This creates another set of complex affordances, 'social affordances', which invite and guide agents to initiate interaction or communication with another agent (Webster 1999).

However, GIS is empty in a sense that it is not populated with agents. One solution to this problem may be adoption of an autonomous agent approach (cf. Epstein and Axtell 1996; Kohler and Carr 1997). This approach, a sort of 'virtual ethnoarchaeology', might offer us a different and valuable insight in the process of creating past landscapes as a result of on-going social life. On the other hand, we are then faced with yet another set of dangers, as these types of models can quickly become 'cybernetic wastelands' inhabited with 'hollow men' (cf. Thomas 1988; 1991).

[Back] [Forward] [Contents] [Home]

© Internet Archaeology URL: http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue16/6/34.html
Last updated: Thur Nov 11 2004