IFI7124 – Assignment 1 – Distributed cognition

  • Give some examples from the text of how people create affordances in the physical world and on a computer display to facilitate their work.
    Distributed cognition is a way for people to explain, how and why they keep important  information in their surroundings. It is a way to understand and see certain common ways and tools that we use, in order to easily access the information necessary. People have a tendency to give certain attributes to objects around them and in their everyday environment.
    Fom here comes the first sign of distributed cognition that peole tend to adhere to when using computers. Firstly we tend to name the objects on a computer screen the same that we do in the real world. Thus we have folders where we keep documents, we have shortcuts on our desktop to enable ust o find the documents etc. In a sense we project our experience of the real world onto and into the computer. It helpis ust o expain, how computers work and how they benefit our lifestyle, without having to explain the ones and zeroes.
    Nowadays the distributed cognition goes even further than the actual work that we do on a computer. The way we use computers in order to communicate, has changed the way we see the real world. A computer is as much a part of reality as god was and is for religious people. We tend to give real life statements to things that we do on the world wide web and the services that are universally provided. For example twenty years ago, sharing meant that people needed to divide something into parts and subsequently either one got a piece of whatever was shared. Nowadays we share everything from tweets, which are just letters on a screen, to youtube videos without actually doing nothing more than a click of the mouse. Likes and sharing and copying are just a couple of things that we do in order to build an understanding of the world within the computer and the way we connect it to our understanding and comprehension of the real world.

Give some examples of how people offload cognitive activity to the environment.

* For example if wone has a meeting at a workplace. People often do not know that there is a meeting taking place, if it is behind closed doors. If the meeting is private and the attendants do not want to be disturbed, there is a way to notify other people by talking to them. But as it often is, there are other ways of notifying people without actually talking to them. One example is by putting a “do not disturb” sign outside the door. It is not an actual way of letting people know, what is going on in the meeting room, but provides enough information to let them know the fact there is a meeting of sorts. The same way radio stations let people know, when there is a live session going on or someone is recording. There they mainly use a bright red light that people would most certainly see

One other way would be an old way of reminding oneself to do something important. People used to tie a knot around their finger to remind them of something. The knot itself did not mean anything specific, but by noticing it, people always remembered that there is something they needed to do.

Give some examples of internal and external representational states, and of how they are coordinated.

* A good way of showing different internal and external representations would be a to-do list. In that situation people put down different sentences which are often shortened versions of what is the actual continuum of different physical tasks to be performed. We might see a task there, which only has a meaning. The meaning does only imply to the representation of the task needed to complete. Only when a person starts to perform the task, the real external representation takes place. We often do certain on-demand things within a group or individually, which at that point do not serve an external purpose on their own. Only when combined with a real world physical action, we are able to see whether a computation or asolution enables us to complete the assignment.



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