Digital technology, mediation, and activity theory



In spite of their differences Vygotsky and Leontiev equally confine to speak about mediational means and neglect to reflect on the medium which makes an object being a means. Vygotsky lived at the end of the «Gutenberg galaxy». He was not able to even notice the emergence of digital technology. Leontiev certainly lived in the years of emerging digitalization technology but he was still far away from that widely spreading out impact of computers on our daily life today. It is therefore no judgement about personal limitations when we say that Vygotsky and Leontiev really could not reflect neither on digital technology nor on its revolutionary importance as a new leading medium of a new age or society. Activity theory in its basic structure depends on book culture but does not notice this dependency, because of its loss of adequate concepts. Activity theory cannot escape its own theoretical limits and methodological constraints. For the time being, however, that is during ongoing transition processes, we are still forced to deal with the epistemological and communication theoretical structures of book culture because such an anachronism is rather unavoidable to the transition processes in all present societies. But activity theory is urged to test seriously its common grounds or interfaces with new emerging sciences like media history and media science and to check their specific potential in modelling the new forms of information processing and communication systems if it aims to be still functional in the future of the Digital Age.

General Information

Keywords: activity theory; cultural-historical psychology; culturology; media theory; media history; culture; digital technology/digitalisation; artefacts; instruments; means; objects; tools; medium; mediation; communication; myths of book culture; periodisation; media formation

Journal rubric: Problems of Cultural-Historical and Activity Psychology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Rückriem G. Digital technology, mediation, and activity theory. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2010. Vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 30–38. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Georg Rückriem, Doctor of Education, Vice president, Professor emeritus, Berlin University of Arts. Co-founder and co-editor of "Electronic Journal for Activity Theoretical Research in Germany" (together with Prof. Dr. Hartmut Giest, Potsdam University)., Berlin, Germany, e-mail:



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