Knowledge Networks and Distributed Cognition

“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it”. — Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

This episode from The Engineering Commons podcast considers engineering as a knowledge network. The expansive discussion incorporates topics such as:

The theory of Distributed Cognition contends that knowledge and cognition is distributed across objects, individuals, artefacts, and tools found in the environment. This allows a group of people to perform cognitive tasks that no single person can accomplish alone.

Organizational Memory is the information and knowledge that is stored in the individuals, records, and procedures of an organization.

Social Objects are physical objects that facilitate social interactions, or which allow us to come together, and which prompt conversations or help create cultures:

“So the reason I bring up the whole bit about social objects is, I’m going to claim, for the purposes of this episode … that we as engineers are involved with social objects. That is, whatever product it is we work on, or whatever device it is we service or attend to, that creates a sort of social object because engineering is a social process. We do spend a lot of time communicating with one another about these objects that we’re trying to design or fix or repair or improve or service”.