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Rizwan Ansary

Assignment # 7

Role: Producer

1.1. interesting about the article?

The examples (ship navigation, etc) are interesting. I also find the discussion about history-enriched "non-digital" objects to be innovative. It makes me want to read more about the various efforts that have been made in the sphere of history-enriched digital objects.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

I initially thought that the idea of distibuted cognition is a bit over-stretched and hence found very few interesting discussions in the article. However, I later realized that it is this kind of cognition that we are normally involved in as opposed to the in-the-brain cognitive processes. I thus went through the article again and there were hardly any sections that I did not read with interest.

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

In order to address the future problems and issues in HCI, it is imperative that the research is based on methods that do not separate cognition from the outside world. Traditionally, research in HCI has been based on the fact that there exists a gulf between the outside world and its internal representation in the human mind. There have been efforts to remove or reduce this gulf through translation of artifactual semantics between the two worlds. However, the theory of distributed cognition removes this boundary and incorporates elements of the outside world into the cognitive process.

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

I would like to learn more about History-Enriched Digital Objects and how it particularly enhances the experience of writing code collaboratively.

4. please describe briefly your understanding of

4.1. distributed cognition?

It is a cognitive activity based on collaboration that results from the interaction of humans with various elements (such as people, physical artificats, tools) in his environment. It is a broader phenomena spread over time and space.

4.2. ethnography

"The branch of anthropology that deals with the scientific description of specific human cultures", (
Taken in the context of cognitive science, ethnography is the study of the interaction between individuals and their surroundings and how this interaction influences cognitive activities.

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

These are entities that reconfigure themselves based on the surrounding environment. Environment here is a broad term that encompasses the various elements that can affect a system's behaviour.

5. the article talks about "new foundations" for HCI
5.1. please discuss a couple of "old foundations" for HCI
5.2. how "new" according to your knowledge are these ?new foundations?

I have addressed some of the issues in my answer to 2. above. I repeat them here. The old foundations of HCI profess that there exists a gulf between the real world representation of a problem and the representation conceived by the human mind. HCI research has traditioanlly been based on this aspect of human psychology.
The new foundations remove these barriers and profess an all-encompassing cognitive environment that includes the human mind as well as the environmental elements (social settings, tools, media etc).

The new foundations are "very" new for me. However, the article mentions that they have been around for nearly twelve years at the time the article was penned (2001).

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

I consider the idea of History-Enriched Digital Objects to be easy and quick from an implementation viewpoint. I would thus like to see how histories can enhance the experience of solving the bus route design problem that we tackled in the role-playing exercise.

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 use of PDAs involves distributed cognition in that it incorporates elements from the surroundings for better understanding of the system. Also, the collaboration of various individuals to prepare maps and view navigation status of the handicapped person lends it the structure of a social setting.

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