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Brock LaMeres - HW #7 "Distributed Cognition"

1.1. interesting about the article?

I found it interesting how we are trying to relate distributed cognition to computers. Distributed cognition is present everywhere but without it being pointed out, one would never realize how much interaction there is in any process. We tend to approach problems as if “we” are the single point of information. All other people are just inputs into our equations as we make the decision. We don’t realize that when we interact with others we just don’t receive basic I/O, we actually receive the output of their own processes and decision. Without even thinking about it, we have built on the progress of a subsystem. By recognizing this distribution, we can then apply it to computers.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

Pretty good.

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

The main message was how widely the concept of distributed cognition can be applied. It is easy to understand a group of people working together to solve a problem as an example of distributed cognition. However, applying this to the arrangement of an office is something a normal use wouldn’t consider.

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

The relation to hierarchy is interesting to me. It seems to relate to the last article on the design of complex systems. In this article they only went one level down into the hierarchy to describe the distribution. It seems like there are even more layers of hierarchy in distributed cognition that could be explored.

4. please describe briefly your understanding of

4.1. distributed cognition?

This is where processes are carried out in multiple subsystems and fed to an upper system for the final decision. With the overload of information and the need for specialization in our society, this is an evolutionary effect.

4.2. ethnography

This is the study of how people think, interact, and perform their processes.

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

This is trying to represent a system that is dynamic. An algorithmic State Machine is a first order representation of an active process.

5. the article talks about "new foundations" for HCI

5.1. please discuss a couple of "old foundations" for HCI

The old foundations refer to the entire cognition occurring within “one skull”. The idea of a decision being made with simple inputs instead of inputs of processes.

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

They are relatively new. This is kind of the evolution of computer power. Up to now, we have been focused on creating computational power. Now that we have a significant amount of power, we can move into more of an abstract way of thinking about computers. The ideas may have existed before computers but it isn’t until recently that they can apply.

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

We could extend it to the “Role Models” that we played in the Pita Board Bus Route experiment. Instead of individuals sitting at the table, a computer model of the person could be created that would represent that demographic.

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 main idea is that processes that once were carried out within the user’s head are now off-loaded into a computer that carries out the process for them.

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