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Assignment 7

Joint Work by Jun Chen, Joel Clawson and Jennifer Tamez

Role: Summarizer/Annalyzer

1. what did you find

1.1. interesting about the article?

People gave diverse answers to this question.
  • The concept of distributed cognition is interesting. It is interesting to see how the boundary of analysis of a cognitive system extends from that of the individual human minds to a new boundary defined by all the resources.
  • It is interesting to relate distributed cognition to computers. The interaction between people shows the interaction between subsystems in computer.
  • The idea of "laying off" cognition is interesting. Computer is a wonderful candidate for removing cognitive load.
  • The discussion about culture and cognition is interesting. The analog between social organization and cognitive architecture now seems obvious but was often ignored by people.
  • It is really good that authors gave examples to explain the concept. Some people like the example of "Intelligent Use of Space" very much since they can reflect this idea in their own life.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

Most people found the article interesting.

But one person felt that UI doesn't need to be improved that much. Current user interfaces are already doing a lot and actually too much sometimes. For example, the AOL tool is really annoying like a babysitter. But tools that provide access to the history are useful.

My comment: A function might be welcomed by some people but disliked by others. UI personalization might be one possible solution to the AOL tool problem mentioned above. However, current UI personalization support is still very simple. More research needs to be done.

Another person felt that the article didn't meet its claimed goal of presenting a unified framework for research. How we can use this approach to improve human-computer interaction in collaborative systems is not covered very much.

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

Many people consider the main message as distributed cognition should/can play an important role in HCI.

Quite a lot people consider the main message to be that distributed cognition can be represented in a myriad of ways.

One person thinks that understanding end-users is a key in designing HCI.

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

Here is some questions people would like to know more about:
  • How to design programs that behave like History-Enriched Digital Object?

  • What is the hierarchy in distributed cognition?

  • What does "cognition is embodied" really mean? The explanation in the article is good clear.

  • What are the results of the analysis proposed at the end by the author.

  • How are the cognitive processes we normally associate with an individual mind implemented in a group of individuals? How do the cognitive processes of a group differ from the cognitive properties of the people who act in those groups? how are the cognitive properties of individual minds affected by participation in group activities?

4. please describe briefly your understanding of

4.1. distributed cognition?

The general understanding is that distributed cognition is a group knowledge. That is to say that information is shared among the group because everyone cannot know everything. The use of other devices aids in the distributed cognition as well.

One person looked at distributed cognition from an architectural view point of a computer. Their understanding was along the line of a larger system breaking up a problem into subsystems that feed their results/information to the larger system for the final processes.

4.2. ethnography

The consensus is that ethnography is the process of describing how someone interacts with a system. It could be a method or technique, an analysis of a situation, or documenting the steps taken during the interaction.

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

There was a wide variety of responses for active representations, but the majority dealt with representing dynamic changes in the system. Some other examples are: compilers and spelling/grammar checkers that report problems, models that represent real world objects, and human interaction affecting the system.

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

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

The people agreed that the “old” foundation for HCI is individual cognition in a single mind.

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

Most people did not consider the “new” foundations to be that new. The examples given that have been around for a while include: interaction with networked devices, interaction with other people through other media where everyone involved is not necessarily in the same physical location, and being more efficient as a group instead of individually.

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

Ideas included
  • Expanding on user peferences, as well as monitoring how people use that particular software system to make changes accordingly
  • Understanding the distribution of cognitive process in order to imrove human-computer interaction should not be the only approach. "Old" approaches are still important.
  • Research could be extended to the "role models" that we played in the Pita Board Bus Route experiment, such that a computer model of the person could be created to 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?

There were a few common ideas that most people referred to such as:
  • The interaction between the user and the computer
  • Offloading cognitive effort onto the environment using external resources
  • The design was a distributed activity where several people helped in the design of the system
  • The system's integration of the caregiver and the user
  • Interaction between internal representations (user and caregiver's minds) and external representations (PDA and interface)

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