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Genevieve Hudak
DLC – HW #7

1. what did you find
1.1. interesting about the article?

I found the concept of distributed cognition interesting in general. I also like the idea of dynamic interfaces changing to reflect different tasks or environments.

The whole idea of ‘laying off’ cognition, and the way we organize our things to remove some of the cognitive load really interests me, since I am constantly reorganizing, trying to make the most efficient use of my environment.

I think that computers are definitely a wonderful candidate for removing cognitive load because of the large amount of data they can store and the way that we can access it. Indeed this leads to some stress when we are unable to access that data (as when our computer breaks), but overall I see it as a great thing.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

I found the whole article interesting.

2. what do you consider the main message of the article?

I’d consider the main message of the article to be that distributed cognition can be represented in a myriad of ways. Also that technology is a great way to represent distributed cognition, but also that we represent without even thinking about it at times based just on how we organize things. I also think that the article makes the point that a good interface is key to efficient distributed cognition.

3. are themes discussed in the article which you would like to know more about?

I would like to know more about History-Enriched Digital Objects. In particular, how to design interfaces or programs that behave in this way. It seems to me that Microsoft attempted this in Windows by hiding things that weren’t recently used and allowing the user to click the ‘>>’ (pointed down or up) to access less used items. Though the thought is a good one, this functionality can sometimes be annoying, especially when use of menu options changes frequently.

4. please describe briefly your understanding of
4.1. distributed cognition?

Distributed cognition is when we rely on other people or devices to know stuff that we can’t keep all in our heads all the time. I think that this has become much more prevalent since the Internet and cell phones, since now we rely on our cell phones to know all our phone numbers, our computers to keep track of all our bill paying, etc, and the internet for any other information that previously would have to have been looked up in books and remembered or copied.

4.2. ethnography

Ethnography is a way to represent or document how people do tasks or how a user interacts with a system. More generally it is a way to document how people do things, and what they are thinking when they do them.

4.3. active representations (which is the most important example you can think of?)

An active representation is one that involves actions as well as one that is more dynamic and changes over time and with further interaction.

5. the article talks about "new foundations" for HCI
5.1. please discuss a couple of "old foundations" for HCI

An old foundation of HCI is that cognition is bound by the individual mind.

5.2. how "new" according to your knowledge are these �new foundations�?

According to my knowledge, these foundations are somewhat new. In my lifetime, computers have become more and more an integrated part of our lives, and therefore these issues are becoming more and more important.

6. do you have any ideas how this research could / should be extended based on your own knowledge and experience?

I think that software systems should expand on user preferences, as well as monitoring how people use that particular software system, in order to both dynamically and at design time make changes accordingly.

7. in the class on Jan 14, 2004, we showed a multi-media show about the CLever project � question: which elements of distributed cognition are described in this video?

The element of structure in a person’s environment are demonstrated by the need for a prompting system, MAPS, where the person’s tasks are structured by the script on the device. The MAPS system along with the Lifeline program also represent the effort it takes to maintain coordination. People offloading cognitive effort onto the environment is done with the MAPS, Lifelife, PitaBoard examples. The cognitive load-balancing in a social organization are demonstrated with all of the projects and their interrelation to one another.

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