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The Affordances of Blog

What is “affordance”

The psychologist James J. Gibson originally introduced the term in his 1977 article “The Theory of Affordances” and explored it more fully in his book The Ecological Approach to Visual Perceptionin 1979. He defined affordances as all “action possibilities” latent in the environment, objectively measurable and independent of the individual’s ability to recognize them, but always in relation to the actor and therefore dependent on their capabilities. (wikipedia) In his book, he said “Affordances of the environment are what it offers to animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill. I mean by it something that refers to both the environment and the animal in a way that no existing term does. It implies the complementarity of the animal and the environment.” (Gibson, 1979, 127). He also said that “ An affordance is neither an objective property nor a subjective property; or it is both if you like. An affordance cuts across the dichotomy of subjective-objective and helps us to understand its inadequacy. An affordance points both ways, to the environment and to observer.” (Gibson, 1979, 129). Chemero, Gibson, and Michaels considered that affordances are action-based relations between particular aspects of person and particular aspects of situations. (Chemero, 2003; Gibson, 1979; Michaels, 2003). So in my opinion, affordance is the relationship between persons and environment or animals and environment.

Three affordances of blog

I have a blog after I come to Finland to learn my master’s degree programmer. That is a kind of technology we learn and we are asked to publish our homework on it. Actually, Most of my friends have blogs long time ago, they write their diaries, display pictures and video, share their happiness and sadness, read and comment on others’ blogs, sometimes reprint some information or stories they are interested in to their own blogs. They like to spend part of time on taking care of their blogs and other persons’ blogs. But I am a lazy lady, I do not like to spend my energy and time on blog, so until now, I have had my own blog just one month.

Blog is a tool I used in my learning process, meanwhile, it also has many affordances. I will evaluate it from three aspects: social affordance, cognitive affordance and motivational affordance.

Social affordance: the blog is a kind of environment for people to write, to learn, and to share the knowledge, information, and anything else. When we reread our articles published on the blog, we will modify some inaccurate perspectives and reflect it to deepen our feeling. At the same time, the blog is a platform which is convenient to communicate with each other. To the interesting topic and viewpoint, we could talk about and make comments with our teachers, friends and peers, exchange our different ideas to get more new information and strategies. With the linkage, we could read other person’s blog, which is another way for us to learn. We will get new understanding and point of view which help us to improve our learning, but inevitably, we may not agree with their opinions sometimes. In addition, the blog is a social media for our collaborative learning. To the same target, we can discuss and interact with our group members on the blog, present opinions and views, which is useful for us to broaden our trains of thought and make us accomplish the task better. At the same time, it is in favor of fostering and proving our abilities of problem-solving.

Cognitive affordance: The design feature of the blog is to help, support, facilitate, and enable person to think and know about something. It is easy to apply a blog on the internet, for example, I apply for my blog on the www. WordPress.com. After getting my account, I can design my blog with the “dashboard”, which is the place for decorating, setting, writing, editing, and so on. In “dashboard” menu, I could use option “user” to invite other people to update my blog, use “theme” to choose different theme and tune it, use “links” to link URL which I am interested in, use “widget” to choose various items showed on the blog (categories, links, meta, calendar, tag, etc.), use “posts” to write something and insert pictures and video, the option “comments” inform us to read comment on our blogs, and others. All of those designs give us instruction and support to know and use the blog conveniently.

Motivational affordance: Some research suggests that the motivation can be divided into two parts: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. The intrinsic motivation “refers to the pleasure and inherent satisfaction derived from a specific activity”; the extrinsic motivation “emphasizes performing a behavior because it is perceived to be instrumental in achieving valued outcomes that are distinct from the activity” (Venkatesh and Speier 1999, p. 2). For my article, the intrinsic motivation refers to the person’s motivation, which is the motivation to use a blog. After learning how to build a blog and having my propra blog, I find it is not difficult to use a blog. Except for publishing the homework, I always design my blog, because it is uglier than my classmates’; when I study how to insert video and pictures, I am excited to add some video and pictures into my article, it is really interesting for me, and I have got the sense of achievement. So I believe I am really keen on the blog now. Otherwise, the extrinsic motivation refers to blog, which is a kind of social media. Firstly, the blog is a channel for knowledge, information, comments, and links. We could publish, search and organize knowledge and information, comment on other person’s standpoint, link to what our favorite and interesting website. Then, the blog is a tool to develop sharing and communication. When we share our knowledge and information on the blog, our friends, peers, teachers, or others can comment, discuss, and exchange ideas with each other. When we read feedback, it is helpful for our learning. Lastly, as the educational and entertainment resource, the blog has automatic time and date stamps, which avoid misinformation; in addition, the blog is portable, if we have a computer and Internet connection, we could use it at anywhere and anytime.

In a word, the relationship between blog and person is positive. The blog is needed, meaningful, efficient, and relational for us; and we are likely to apply, explore, and investigate blog in our learning process and in our life.


[1] J. H. Jung, Christoph Schneider, Joseph Valacich. (2010) Enhancing the Motivational Affordance of Information Systems: The Effects of Real-Time Performance Feedback and Goal Setting in Group Collaboration Environments. Management Science, Vol. 56, No. 4, April 2010 .724-742

[2] Samuel K. W. Chu, Alvin C. M. Kwan, Peter Warning (2012). Blogging for Information Management, Learning, and Social Support during Internship. Educational Technology & Society, 15(2), 168–178.

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affordance


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