Don Normanís Things That Make

Don Normanís Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine

Two forms of cognition: experiential and reflective

Reflection is greatly aided by systematic procedures and methods, and these are learned primarily by being taught. Alas, our educational system is more and more trapped in an experiential mode: the brilliant inspired lecturer, the prevalence of prepackaged films and videos to engage the student, the textbooks that follow a predetermined sequence. We strive to keep our students engaged in our schools by entertaining them. This is not the road toward reflection.

The skill of an expert is that of experiential cognition. The experiential mode seduces the participant into confusing action for thought. One can have new experiences in this manner, but not new ideas, new concepts, advances in human understanding: For these, we need the effort of reflection.

Vicarious experiences can be entertaining but they cannot substitute for active participation.

Three ways of learning:
1.Accretion: accumulating facts
2.Tuning: practice (maybe 5000+ hours)
3.Restructuring: the heavy lifting of reflection

ďIt is remarkable how little scientific knowledge we have about motivation, enjoyment, and satisfaction.Ē

Thereís no reason for study to be solitary.

Cognitive artifacts are representations, internal or external, of sounds, ideas, concepts, and objects that are not the thing itself.

Stories are marvelous means of summarizing experiences, of capturing an event and the surrounding context that seems essential. Stories are important cognitive events, for they encapsulate, into one compact package, information, knowledge, context, and emotion. Roger Schank points out that our stories not only explain things to others, they explain things to us.

Logic is artificial. It assumes a certainty to the world. Ah, if only the world were like logic, clear and precise, with no sloppiness or indeterminate states. But it isnít. And in its attempt to abstract the relevant from the irrelevant, logic oversimplifies to the extreme.

Ad for the Wooton patent desk, 1880. ďWith this desk a man absolutely has no excuse for slovenly habits in the disposal of his numerous papers, and the man of method may here realize that pleasure and comfort which is only to be attained in the verification of the maxim: a place for everything and everything in its place. The operator having arranged and classified his books, papers, etc., seats himself for business at the writing table and realizes at once that he is master of the situation. Every portion of his desk is accessible without change of position and all immediately before the eye. Here he discovers that perfect system and order can be attained; confusion avoided; time saved and vexation spared; dispatch in the transaction of business facilitated and peace of mind promoted in the daily routine of business.Ē (It didnít work but the desks go for $35,000 to $250,000 on the antique market.)

People Propose, Science Studies, Technology Conforms


Posted by Jay Cross at November 1, 2001 08:12 PM | TrackBack
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