Metaffordance - Visualise your future!




Metaffordance was developed by Dr PJ Treffner to offer analysis, tools and techniques from complex systems science to help individuals and groups simplify and optimise their interaction with the world.

Background (or skip to the chase below)
"Metaffordances" are things or devices that allow creative interaction (from: "meta" = self-referential, and "affordances" = things that allow or afford actions).
An affordance is a scientific term for the perceivable properties of something such that the thing is seen in terms of what actions are allowed (definition by the famous experimental psychologist James Gibson). We can see that a chair affords stepping up on...or sitting on...or picking up; it depends. This is because there is body-scaled information (structured, reflected light composed of higher-order invariants). We can perceive (affordances) because information is detected by our senses+brain+body system). We do not need to "think" about what meaningful actions the world affords us...we simply SEE these meaningful properties. Because "ecological information" exists and is all about action, it is a new type of information (discovered by Gibson and who is often acknowledged as the 20th century's greatest scientific psychologist). All organisms perceive their environments in terms of what actions are possible.
A metaffordance is a special kind of affordance - it is an information tool - a second-order affordance, a self-referential affordance, and it generates information. It affords not just actions like pressing a button to turn on a laptop screen but new information actions and interactions ("informactions" we might say) when you press a button on the game or website "inside" the screen. Your action in the "virtual" world has real consequences for you in both the real and the virtual world just as a real action in the real world has real consequences for you.
Metaffordances provide opportunities beyond basic actions because metaffordances generate information about possible interactions
Affordances invite us to act; metaffordances invite us to interact.

A pencil affords grasping (a basic action affordance) but it allows much more. It is a metaffordance for communication - it amplifies communication via the action of writing in a language. This allows interaction with those who can read because it can generate information.
A mobile phone affords picking up and holding (basic action affordances). But it is a metaffordance for verbal interaction and discussion between two interacting people. It generates (and transmits) information.
A video conference computer screen is a metaffordance for group interaction and debate. 
An augmented reality device (e.g., a smartphone or tablet screen with camera and superimposed graphics and text) is graspable (the basic affordance) but it is a metaffordance for amplified interaction with the thing it is directed at (e.g., a restaurant app that superimposes menus or customer reviews when the screen is pointed at a particular pizza shop). Or Pokémon Go which (although useless) allows virtual actions with real consequences - you go outside and walk and look at stuff.
What we can do for you (but read the Background too!)
We provide ideas, tools, and techniques - metaffordances - to  help you understand the opportunities for action in an ever-changing world of increasing complexity and mental and physical challenge.

With a background in cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and ecological psychology, we understand the key role of attention in human performance, and especially in safety. Having conducted the world's first study in real cars of how talking on a mobile phone degrades the control of driving, we have effective knowledge to pass on to you on how to dramatically improve your chances of good outcomes in complex information-intensive situations.

With extensive international experience in scientific research, we can provide expertise in data analysis, visualisation, data interpretation, and all stages of project management.

Together with associated experts and colleagues in the field, we offer techniques that provide solutions to complex, real world problems. Simple principles can generate complex patterns (even chaotic signals) and understanding the underlying dynamical principles is the key to progress. We have numerous scientific papers from our projects that are not only proof-of-concept...they SAVE LIVES.

Let us help you not only see the simplicity in the complex, but act on it too.

- Psychology: perception and coordination, ecological approach, affordances, attentive driving, neuroscience, sports science; attention and perception, HCI design, ergonomics, motion capture, virtual reality;

- Complex systems: nonlinear dynamical systems (stability theory, attractors, chaos), mathematical biology;

- Analysis: statistics, experimental design, modelling, connectionism, neural networks and brain modelling;

- Training in nonlinear, inherently unstable terrestrial locomotion techniques (driving, sailing).




Much of our work is voluntary. Please donate to help support further efforts.

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Metaffordance - Realising the metaphor dance

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