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Cognition in the Wild (MIT Press) Revised ed. Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0262581462
ISBN-10: 0262581469
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Hutchins argument that 'the physical symbol system is a model of the operation of the sociocultural system from which the human actor has been removed' has great force. Hutchins challenge to the formal account of human cognition is based on what he knows about how humans actually navigate their way through the world, not on a philosophic doctrine. Overall, I think this is a great book. It has lots of ideas, rich data, and innovative analyses. It is highly disciplined, clearly written, and thoughtful. I believe it will be a real landmark for other naviagators of the cognitive ocean.

(Roy G. D'Andrade, Department of Anthropology, University of California)

This timely work has the potential to make important contributions to cognitive science, artificial intelligence and computer supported cooperative work communities. It addresses difficult problems of great importance with novelty and creativity. The general area of situated cognition is a lively and important one, spanning areas as diverse as anthropology, robotics, and office information systems. There are two fundamental persepctives that are central to these efforts: that cognition must be studied in realistic contexts, and when viewed in these contexts much of what we consider intelligence is really not in the head but out in the world. Given these persepctives, there are two research questions that need to be addressed - how can we go about studying cognition in the real world and how does this affect the way we study what is going on in heads of the people the way we study what is going on in heads of the people embedded in these contexts? Hutchins tackles both of these questions in new and intriguing ways.

(James Martin, Computer Science Department, University of Colorado)

From the Back Cover

Edwin Hutchins combines his background as an anthropologist and an open-ocean racing sailor in this account of how anthropological methods can be combined with cognitive theory to produce an new reading of cognitive science. Hutchins examines a set of phenomena that have fallen between psychology and anthropology, bringing to light a new set of relationships between culture and cognition. His conclusion illustrates the costs of ignoring the cultural nature of cognition, pointing to the ways in which contemporary cognitive science can be transformed by new meanings and interpretations.
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Product Details

  • Series: MIT Press
  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book; Revised ed. edition (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262581469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262581462
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on June 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In early 1997, this book helped change the course of my career.
I study software engineering processes, especially software quality assurance techniques. I'd been troubled by the linear, cartesian reasoning we use in our field to justify some practices and deprecate others. What Hutchins did for me is open the door to a whole different way of thinking about cognitive processes in relation to technology. Up to the moment I was drawn to the interesting title on the shelf of a Barnes and Noble bookstore, I had only a vague idea that there are people who study how other people think and make decisions. Since then, I've discovered interesting ideas about how to organize and train software testers from lots of different fields. But it all started with Cognition in the Wild.
What's so special about Cognition in the Wild? I think there are a few factors at work:
- Hutchins style of writing is personable and readable.
- His conclusions are supported by vivid and detailed accounts from the bridge of a warship. I felt like I was there, with him.
- His ideas about naturally situated cognition are so immediately applicable to any system where a group of people are producing an intellectual product.
- His description of the paradigmatic differences between Western and Micronesian navigation practice helped me make sense of similar fundamental differences among factions in my own field.
Since I discovered this stuff, I've oriented my SQA process work squarely toward helping people think better in groups-- a social cognition focus.
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Format: Paperback
I decided to read that book because of its frequent appearance in other highly interesting scriptures on 'situated cognition', most notably in Andy Clark's "Being There".
It's a book about the cognitive task of ship navigation, but at the same time it's a book about distributed cognition in general, including organisational learning, the question of representation, and other highly relevant topics.
The field of cognitive science is still a place of almost religious debate about turing machines, problem solvers, representation, intelligence and other theoretical concepts that have in common that they can be discussed, but usually not observed directly. One could easily gain the impression that there was some kind of uncertainty principle special to cognitive science that prevented us from watching "the mind".
It's the biggest strength and achievement of Hutchins' book that he came up with the elegant solution to watch "the mind" by observing humans deal with problems using the cognitive tools (systems of representation and 'real' tools as well) that have developed over the centuries. It's almost ironic to see how well this works. By providing further evidence that cognition is generally a distributed task that is done by interacting with cognitive tools, Hutchins proves to be a philosopher in the Wittgensteinian sense who "shows the fly the way from the fly bottle (of mentalism)."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the founding text for the theory of distributed cognition, written by "cognitive anthropologist" Edwin Hutchins, who develops his theory of how thinking is offloaded onto the environment and shared among groups of people through an in-depth account of work and life aboard a modern ship. A "must-read" for anyone interested in distributed cognition and its application to workplaces and taskscapes, from the kitchen and the garden to the theater and the university.
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Interesting book!
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Format: Paperback
To those of you actually taking Hutchin's class or COGS 102 series, this book is absolutely stupid and ridiculous. Has no real world applications. Talks about boats. Navigation systems, and more boats. The book is beyond not usable in his class. If Hutchins wasn't more condescending in person, this book reflects it more. It treats you like some kind of idiot about boats. Boats, boats, boats. ESPECIALLY NAVY BOATS. This book is full of himself, literally and figuratively, as it explores his life as a "cognitive ethnographer" on his journey on boats. Very egoistic tone in book. Don't see how this relates to the class at UCSD. Had this class 8 years ago, and today all my sister took away from his class are boats. Can I get woo0t-w000t for boats. -_-'.
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