Category Archives: XCog

Offloading and evolution

I just finished reading Carl Zimmer‘s very fine book Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea; which is a great introduction to the topic and covers a lot of ground, from Darwin’s life aboard the Beagle to host-bacteria arms races (stop … Continue reading

Posted in Books, External cognition, XCog | 2 Comments

Fun with representations VI – Sharing the load

In Cognition in the Wild, a book I’ll be coming back to later and often in this blog, Ed Hutchins expands on an observation by Herbert Simon, who said that the complicated movements and trajectories of an ant on the … Continue reading

Posted in External cognition, XCog | 3 Comments

Fun with representations V – Maps of the abstract world

Representing information means mapping it into a particular medium –focusing on certain elements of the original data, ignoring the irrelevant ones, and, ideally, simplifying the process of understanding and using it. Unfortunately, our resulting information ‘maps’ are sometimes inappropriate: they … Continue reading

Posted in Cognition, External cognition, Software development, XCog | 10 Comments

Syntax is not sugar

Let’s say we’re representing some information visually with a standard directed graph. We have four nodes (B, C, D, and E) all pointing to another one (A). We have several choices to display the graph. Here are two: Are they … Continue reading

Posted in Cognition, External cognition, Software development, XCog | 1 Comment

Fun with representations IV – Chaotic libraries

Alright, moving on with the representation series! This time I’ll start with an old puzzle that I, by coincidence, got from Steve Easterbrook and, separately, from Angelika Mader in Dagstuhl with a couple of weeks’ difference. We have an 8 … Continue reading

Posted in Cognition, External cognition, XCog | 1 Comment

Fun with representations III – Hidden in plain sight

A while back, as part of a series of fascinating studies of perception in chess, Simon and Chase showed a chessboard to people with several degrees of chess expertise, for very brief moments, and asked them to reproduce the position … Continue reading

Posted in Cognition, External cognition, XCog | 13 Comments

Fun with representations II – Where is the train going?

Continuing with the last post’s discussion, right now we’re in the business of finding out why are some representations better than others. As a warm-up, then, let’s try to figure out the following: Which of these representations of geographical data … Continue reading

Posted in Cognition, External cognition, XCog | 4 Comments