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Edit Assignment#7.Nilo here.Assignment # 7 Distributed Cognition

Nilo Tsung

1.1. Interesting about the article?
Two examples discussed in the article. They are ship navigation (in Section 4.3.1) and airline cockpit automation (in Section 4.3.2).

1.2. Not interesting about this article?
Most of the discussion in this article seems to be abstract and hard to follow what they really want to say. It is no need to mention that many jargons used in this article are the first time I encountered. In other words, I do not want to intend that I am some kind of expert in HCI.

2. What do you consider the main message of this article?
HCI should extend to support collaboration among members of a group.

3. Are themes discussed in the article which you would like to know more about?
I hope the article can talk more about projects related to distributed cognition instead of using many jargons to preach this very abstract concept.

4. Please describe briefly your understanding of
(4.1) distributed cognition,
Traditionally, cognition focused on internal activities of individuals. Distributed cognition is about interactions between people belonging to a small group, and how these people interact with the objects and environments facilitating their communications and collaboration.

(4.2) ethnography,
Ethnography is about the scientific description of the different races of human beings. It is different from anthropology. Anthropology is about the scientific study of the human race, including its different types, its beliefs, social habits, organizations, etc. In other words, anthropology = ethnography + sociology.

In this article, the authors borrowed the term “ethnography,” and build a new term “cognitive ethnography” for describing distributed cognitive systems based on their internal meanings and external contexts.

(4.3) active representations
a representation which is more flexible in usage and provides more hints to the users what to do next.

5. The article talks about “new foundations” for HCI
(5.1) please discuss a couple of “old foundations” for HCI,

The old foundations of human-computer interaction are based on human factors and industrial psychology.

(5.2) how “new” according to your knowledge are these? New foundations?
I don’t think this article tells us any really new things which can be qualified to be called as “new foundations”. Because distributed cognition is still based on human factors and industrial psychology.

If I really have to say what the new foundation of HCI is, I may pick “agent interfaces”. It provides a new platform other than those based on human factors and industrial psychology.

6. Do you have any ideas how this research could/should be extended based on your own knowledge and experience?
I would like to extend this idea of distributed cognition to describing the activities in the room of project status meetings. Distributed cognition on construction project control shared by stakeholders of a project is the key to fully understand the knowledge of construction project controls. The situation in the room of project status meetings is very similar to that in the bridge of a ship and the cockpit of an airline. Based on my knowledge, no one has ever tried to look at this problem using this approach. Obviously, first we need to build a new digital object (or project control system) representing project-control data, so that the stakeholders of a project can collaboratively discuss and discover the tacit knowledge of project control. At this moment, construction project control is still at the stage of art rather than science.

7. In the class on January 14, 2004, we showed a multi-media show about the CLever project? Which elements of distributed cognition are described in this video?
The CLever project consists of 5 parts: (1) Web2gether, (2) The Evaluation Assistant, (3) Memory Aiding Promoting Systems, (4) Mobility for All, and (5) Lifeline: Remote Monitoring System. I think in all five parts people belonging to a small group interact with each other, with the surrounding physical environments, and with the digital tools.

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