TALE: A Possible theme called “Life Coordinate”

Oliver Ding
Published in
10 min readMar 31


The horizontal tendency, the vertical tendency, and the dynamics of Lifesystem

The above picture represents a Possible Theme called “Life Coordinate”.

The theme of “Life Coordinate” is a concept of the Lifesystem Framework which belongs to CALL (Creative Action Learning Lab). See the diagram below.

A Model of Lifesystem Framework (v1.0)

In the past week, I worked on updating the Lifesystem Framework, especially the Life Coordinate part. Though I can directly publish a post on CALL’s blog, I want to turn it into a possible theme for TALE.

This creative action refers to a collaboration between CALL and TALE. I tried this type of creative action in the past 20 days.

Curativity Center was defined as a meta-center for building a network of knowledge centers:

  • Creative Action Learning Lab (CALL)
  • Activity Analysis Center
  • Platform Ecology Center
  • Life Strategy Center
  • Curativity Center
  • Thematic Analysis Learning Engagement (TALE)

You can find more details in CALL: The Launch Day of Curativity Center and TALE: A Possible Theme called “Knowledge Center”.

The collaboration between CALL and TALE refers to the “Concept — Theme” Attchance. See the diagram below.

  • CALL: “Life Coordinate” is a concept of the Lifesystem Framework (v1.0)
  • CALL > TALE: “Life Coordinate” is detached from the Lifesystem framework (v1.0) and attached to TALE as an independent theme.
  • TALE: “Life Coordinate” is an independent theme and it is developed to v2.0
  • TALE > CALL: “Life Coordinate” is detached from TALE and attached to CALL as a concept of the Lifesystem Framework (v2.0)

The primary goal of this post aims to turn “Life Coordinate” from a concept into a theme. In this way, the audiences of TALE can use the theme “Life Coordinate” without considering the Lifesystem Framework.

The secondary goal of this post is to build an example of collaborative projects between TALE and other knowledge centers.

CALL: The Seed of “Life Coordinate”

CALL stands for Creative Action Learning Lab. It is currently hosting several knowledge projects such as the Ecological Practice approach and the Creative Life approach.

Lifesystem Framework is an application of the Ecological Practice approach. The diagram below is the basic model of the Lifesystem Framework (v1.0).

It was formed by two parts:

  • The Lifeway — Lifeform Hierarchical loops
  • The Life Coordinate framework

I adopt Anticipatory Systems Theory as a foundation to develop the Lifesystem framework which considers the “lifeway — lifeform” hierarchical loops as an anticipatory system. Both Lifeway and Lifeform are parts of a whole which is named Lifesystem.

The “Lifeway — Lifeform” Hierarchical loops are the primary part of the Lifesystem framework. However, it needs some operational concepts for empirical research and practical reflection.

To develop a set of operational concepts, I used the “Life Coordinate” framework as the secondary part of the Lifesystem framework.

The horizontal axis refers to “Attach/Enter — Detach/Exit” which is inspired by the Ecological Practice approach’s basic model. See the diagram below.

The vertical axis refers to “Subject-Object” which is adopted from Activity Theory. See the diagram below.

Since I worked on several knowledge frameworks about Activity Theory, I didn’t emphasize the “Life Coordinate” part of the Lifesystem framework. My focus is the final framework with eight operational concepts. See the diagram below.

In other words, the “Life Coordinate” framework is an intermediate framework for developing eight operational concepts.

After generating eight operational concepts, the outcome didn’t need to tell more details about the “Life Coordinate” framework.

You can find more details in the following links:

The Lifesystem Framework (v1.0) was developed in 2020. On May 17, 2022, I edited a book (draft) titled Ecological Practice Design (Book): The Lifesystem Approach to Everyday Life Innovation.

In the past several months, I found a need to emphasize the “Life Coordinate” part of the Lifesystem framework. This idea led to this post.

CALL > TALE: The “Concept — Theme” Attachance

As mentioned above, I wanted to detach the concept of “Life Coordinate” from the Lifesystem framework (v1.0) and turn it from an intermediate framework into an independent theme.

The idea is very simple. I use Horizontal Tendency and Vertical Tendencey to redefine the theme of “Life Coordinate”.

In this way, the theme “Life Coordinate” refers to a meta-diagram.

What’s the difference between Horizontal Tendency and Horizontal Axis? I use the Horizontal Tendency to refer to a one-way direction. For example, below is my notion of “The Tendency of Design Activity”.

There are many aspects of Life Development, I encourage you to pick some aspects and use them as Horizontal Tendency and Vertical Tendency. In this way, you build your version of the “Life Coordinate” framework.

TALE: The “Life Coordinate” Framework (v2.0)

Now I am going to build my new version of the “Life Coordinate” framework. See the diagram below.

I use the basic model of the Ecological Practice approach for the Horizontal Tendency.

If we repeat the above basic model, we see a Lifeflow which is the short name of a metaphor “Life as a continuous flow”.

I use “continuous flow” as a metaphor to describe Life and Experience. This metaphor is inspired by William James’ metaphor “Stream of Thought”.

James used a group of metaphors around the notion of “Stream of Thought”. According to Jeffrey V. Osowski, the following other metaphors or images were part of the stream family (1989, p.132): train, chain, path, current (both water and electric), channel, line (with segments), procession, kaleidoscope, and fabric. “By using these metaphors, James was able to capture the concepts of continuity, constant change, direction, connectedness, pace, rhythm, and flow, all of which were important characteristics of thought or consciousness.”

James used the stream metaphor to reject the British empiricists’ view of consciousness which refers to the chain or train metaphor. According to James:

“Consciousness, then, does not appear to itself chopped up in bits. Such words as “chain” or “train” do not describe it fitly as it presents itself in the first instance. It is nothing jointed; it flows. A “river” or a “stream” are the metaphors by which it is most naturally described. In talking of it hereafter let us call it the stream of thought, of consciousness or of subjective life. (vol. 1, p.239)

What James emphasized is the Subjective Life. I follow this metaphor and directly use Life as a continuous flow to describe a person’s subjective experience of his own life. You can’t use a knife to cut a stream, you only can use a container to contain it.

The water doesn’t have a form which also means a structure, but the container has a form. The form of our experience is perceived as an interaction between our immediate actions with ecological situations which refers to physical environments and social environments. Since a container has its boundary, then we have experience of Enter and Exit. If we consider Life as a large container as a whole, Enter refers to Birth and Exit refers to Death. We can also consider Birth as a small life event, its primary life container is the Womb. Death, its primary life container is the Tomb.

The concept of Container is adopted from George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s conceptual metaphor Container and image schema Containment. However, I expanded the concept from a metaphor to a theoretical concept for the Ecological Practice approach. I use “Attach” and “Detach” to describe these experiences and other meanings.

For life development, what I want to claim is the meaning of “Attach something to containers” and “Detach something from containers”. This is not part of the conceptual metaphor Container and image schema Containment.

By expanding to “Attach something to containers” and “Detach something from containers”, we can talk about something. In this way, Life is not only a purely spiritual journey but a social material activity too. In other words, mind and matter are not separable.

You can find more details in the following links:

I used Lifechain to name the Vertical Tendency for the “Life Coordinate”. It uses “chain” to understand the chain of actions. From the perspective of the Ecological Practice approach, the primary aspect of the “Subject—Object” relationship is the transformation between Potential (action opportunities) and Actual (actions).

In this way, I used “Subject —Potential(Actual) — Object” to replace Activity Theory’s “Subject — Mediatopm — Object”. Since the pair of concepts “Subject-Object” is commonly used in social science, I can cut the weak link between Life Coordinate and Activity Theory.

Moreover, I also used “Focus” to describe “Thing”. The model below is an application of the Ecological Practice approach.

The basic unit of the Ecological Practice approach is the “Person — Thing” interaction and relationship.

  • Potential: the potential possible opportunities that a person could act with a particular thing.
  • Actual: what does a person actually act with the thing? Act 1 and Act 2 refer to two types of acts.
  • Focus: it refers to the thing the person is acting with.

Though the model was developed for the “Product as Thing” theme, it can be applied to the “Life Coordinate” framework (v2.0).

TALE > CALL: The Lifesystem Framework (v2.0)

Finally, I detached the “Life Coordinate” Framework (v2.0) from TALE and attached it to CALL.

Now the “Life Coordinate” Framework is not an intermediate framework to the Lifesystem framework. I need to emphasize the significance of the “Life Coordinate” Framework.

The Lifesystem Framework (v2.0) incorporates more ideas from the Ecological Practice approach.

  • Lifesystem
  • Lifeway
  • Lifeform
  • Lifeflow
  • Lifechain

This is a great milestone for the Lifesystem Framework and the Ecological Practice approach in general.

Related Articles



Oliver Ding

Founder of CALL(Creative Action Learning Lab), information architect, knowledge curator.