Embodied Cognition as a basis for
Researching and Designing Interaction
Distributed Computation and Representation
• Cognitive Science
• Embodied Cognition: the general idea
• Three flavors
• Distributed Computation and Representation
• Applications in design:
• Discussion of the DRC perspective
Jelle van Dijk
Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1975
Werkplaats Kees Boeke Bilthoven
Cognitive Science Nijmegen
Embodied Cognitive Development (neural network model) Pim Haselager
fMRI on language learning FC Donders Centre Nijmegen
Human Technology Den Haag
Interactive Media Products Hogeschool Utrecht, Remko van der Lugt
Industrial Design Eindhoven, Kees Overbeeke, Caroline Hummels
Phd thesis: Creating Traces, Sharing Insight (2013)
Interaction design „beyond‟ the desktop
• Tangibility, physical-digital
• Body augmenting devices,
• Social mediators
• Context-aware systems
• Intelligent „agents‟
Tags: Ubicomp, Wearables, Tangible Media, Augmented reality,
Mobile computing, Ambient Intelligence, Human-Brain interfacing,
Conference: Tangible, Embodied and Embedded Interaction (TE
Theoretical perspective strongly influences the
A table-top surface… is a horizontal screen
interface on which to present and manipulate
digital information in an easy way
A table-top surface… is a social mediator on
which you express yourself skillfully, a physical
table augmented with digital interactivity
What is a table top surface?
Babbage‟s Mill (1837)
Reacting against Behaviorism (192
Brain imaging (1970-present)
Computers (1940‟s - present)
Mind as an inner exercise
“Thinking can best be
understood in terms of
representational structures in
the mind and computational
procedures that operate on
(Wikipedia quoting Paul
Embodied Cognition: 3 flavors
Time for coffee!
Distributed representation and –computation (DR
Don Norman (1987)
• knowledge in the world
External representation (External memory)
How many „external representations‟ can you see in this scene?
• Real objects as „stand-in‟ for „mental objects‟
• Ethnographical approach
• Tools (e.g. the nautical slide-rule for ship
– Representational media (external memory)
– Constraints on the organization of action
• Cognition is distributed over a system of
people and tools
• Clark (1997) Scaffolding.
Use the physical structure in the world to “think with”
• Kirsh (1994) Epistemic action
Reorganize the world such that the problem representation
becomes more easy (or trivial)
Montessori blocks (discussed in Klemmer et al,
Distributed computation, continued
• Clark (1997) 007 principle:
Information will be given to you on a need to know basis
(by the locally available structure in the environment)
• Agre et al (1997) Lifeworld analysis:
human environments are pre-organized: this simplifies
tasks (e.g. things that are needed together for a task
are often found in the same location).
Applications in design
How NOT to do it:
Some bad designs
…more bad designs
Classic application of DRC
Ishii & Ullmer (1997) Tangible User Interfaces
Augmenting Fun and Beauty: A Pamphlet
J.P. Djajadiningrat C.J. Overbeeke S.A.G.
Delft University of Technology, Department of
Discussion of DRC and design
• Straightforward opportunities for application in
interfaces and products.
• Intuitive vocabulary for computer engineers
• „Modest‟ adaption of cognitive science principles
• How to design good mappings?
• Who determines the (predefined) mappings?
• What grounds the meaning of the digital content?
• Are humans part of computational systems, or is
computation part of human practice?
• Do we want technology to take over the cognitive
• Is the body only a „physical constraint‟ or is there more
• Can we explain the significance of concrete design
cases with DRC or do we need more?
DRC applied to design: take home
Distributed representation and computation leads to the
design of predefined mappings to digital meanings
Next lecture (2 weeks from now)
Cognition is Distributed Computation Socially Situated!