Distributed Cognition – IT has feelings too?

ROGERS, Y. and ELLIS, J., 1994. Distributed cognition: an alternative framework for analysing and explaining collaborative working. Journal of Information Technology (Routledge, Ltd.), 9(2), pp. 119

Image: Mary Hodder on Flickr

Image:Mary Hodder, Flickr

My attention has just been drawn to the idea of distributed cognition, and in this paper, Yvonne Rogers introduces it as a multidisciplinary, unifying approach to understanding how people and media interact. The argument goes that it is not useful to abstract user and task as classic HCI theory does, but better to study¬† the system in situ as a whole. No one person or program has the full picture or full control, but together they achieve complex goals.¬† In this respect, the tech components can be seen to have a type of cognition, in that they embody “representational states”.

I was not wholly convinced by the use of the case studies in this paper to describe the approach (a technical support team and a hospital system), but will be following up the work of Hutchins in the early – mid 90’s, who first came up with the idea.

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