Activity Theory & MyFC

This is something I posted to a MyFC forum thread that had been going on for some time.  Another member made a comment that such a dull, non-football discussion had gone on for 18 pages.  It was a good opener for me to make some comments that had been floating round my head for some time.
Diagram of Extended Activity System

Diagram of Extended Activity System

There are clear problems with this Society, which underpin any activity that leads it towards achieving its goals. We have to get these in order if we are to do the work we need, e.g. sorting out the finances, recruitment, or other club business. I see 3 main problems: the tools that we use, the rules that govern the community, and the division of labour within the community.

I’m citing Extended Activity Theory here, something I’ve been studying recently. I think it offers useful insights into where things don’t work and more importantly: how we can fix them.

Tools are: the website, forum, mailshots, wiki, podcast, matchday programme, chatroom, API, team selector, translation team, board blogs, twitter/jaiku match updates, tags, PM, video – anything we use to transmit or accumulate knowledge throughout the society.

“Tools shape the way human beings interact with reality and reflect the experiences of other people who have tried to solve similar problems at an earlier time and invented/modified the tool to make it more efficient. This experience is accumulated in the properties of tools as well as in the knowledge of how the tool should be used. ”

“Tools are created and transformed during the development of the activity itself and carry with them a particular culture – the historical remnants from that development. The use of tools is a means for the accumulation and transmission of social knowledge. It influences the nature, not only of external behavior, but also of the mental functioning of individuals.”

The tools we use are not well integrated and need reviewing – they do not adequately assist in the accumulation and transmission of social knowledge. I.e. match updates, board updates, finance information, board activities, calls for help etc. These are not well organised and this is why a lot of people feel they cannot engage with the society and the club.

Many elements (forums, for example) do not reflect the experience and best practice of many succesful online communities, and have not been allowed to adapt and change as the Society has developed. They way that the forum is managed, for example, is one reason that many people have ended up posting on other sites.

“Rules – conventions, the code and guidelines for activities and behaviors in the system.”

These are not well defined. Hence this thread has extended to 18 pages. This doesn’t just apply to forum discipline, it refers to the board, how often and by what means to they communicate with members. The relationship between the Operator and the Society. The CEO and Chairman. etc. These all need to be clearly defined and stored in a place so that all particpants in the Society know what’s going on. How many times did we see a new member join and not have any clue about what was going on and who did what? Why else did we have hundreds of people put themselves up for the Society board, and then so many drop out?

Division of labor – social strata, hierarchical structure of activity, the balance of activities among different people and artifacts in the system.

Again, these need to be well defined, and obviously relate to the rule and tools. Remember the Members’ skills database? Could have been really useful in handing mini tasks to members, especially coupled with a “call for action” list. Here, we need to define what needs doing, perhaps assigning board members to manage aspects of it and the assignment of tasks. Again, we might need to be careful when dealing with sensetive information, but this is where rules come in.

We also need to recognise and accept the diverse interests, experience and skills of members, and not be dismissive if some members are interested only in matchday activity, but not the politics of the Society. And vice versa. We should be confident that they can discuss and investigate these subjects, report back to the Society in general and produce an action plan we can make a decision on.


We need to get the Operator to review and integrate the tools our Society uses. We also need to define more clearly the Division of Labour and Roles and Responsibilities of the board, web team, forum team, CEO etc, and the rules that they should adhere to. If we sort this out, the society can thrive, engagement will improve, and the financial, footballing or other challenges can be met head on, as a diverse but united body of people with the same object.


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About loidon

Technical support in an IT-centric academic department. Jack of all trades, master of none. Able to bluff on most subjects!

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