More interestingly, to learn to do what you are already doing is a contradiction in terms; it implies that there is always more than one relation of
knowing and doing in play---knowing and not knowing, doing and undoing, understanding theoretically but not empirically and vice versa... It
surely implies that apprenticeship is a process of changing practice. (Lave 2011: 156)

Once upon a time (ca 2013), six young adolescent girls , an intern, and an anthropologist met for a few weeks in a community center computer lab in the Washington Heights area of New York City.1 What brought them together is best presented as an enormous, and somewhat amorphous, assemblage of even bigger assemblages.

The assembling took place over two or three years prior and was accompanied by another assemblage of what might be called a“rhetoric of motives.”2 The motives (Figure 3), as written by public relations people, proposal writers, or other altogether anonymous authors, developed the conceit that some girls need help from experts, institutions, and, in this case, business corporations in their charitable mode.

This help, it was said, involved using the best and most powerful tools available. These tools, at the turn of the 21st century included what are called “badge (serious) games.”

Thousands of people were involved in bringing the six girls together.


We report in this chapter on two moments when the girls shaped a setting in such a way that the adults had to shift what they might otherwise have done. That is, we report on moments when the girls made a difference, however small, over what various curriculum designers might expect girls to do. The girls “geeked out” and “messed around”,7 more or less knowingly and with various consequences. One girl proposed something, and then she was told to do something else. She did it and the case was closed. We continue with a more extended sequence when, over the course of several sessions, and involving several of the girls and then some of the adults, something was produced that was temporarily inscribed in a cloud before it disappeared.