Image courtesy of Solar Clarity

When I started this blog, dedicated to my research, I said that I would bring you with me on my journey–no matter where it leads. That means I may explore ideas/concepts/theories that may or may not eventually fit with my research–but that is ok, as it is all part of the journey and you have to dig in and understand things before you can rule them in or out.

Now that I have established that distributed cognition is a good lens with which to examine enhanced learning and performance through microblogs (see previous entry), I looked at similar concepts/theories and I came across the concept of the “extended mind” and it sounded like it may be relevant to me, so I explored it.

Extended Mind Concept and Distributed Cognition

The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia: “The seminal work in the field is The Extended Mind, by Andy Clark and David Chalmers…They argue that it is arbitrary to say that the mind is contained only within the boundaries of the skull.” Sound familiar? Yes, it does as I believe it is related to distributed cognition. So, what is the difference? My interpretation is that one is tangible and the other is not. In other words, distributed cognition gives an example of a person working out a math problem on a sheet of paper–stating that cognition in this case is distributed between person, paper and pencil. An extended mind example I learned is the following: a person stares at the back of your head–you turn around. Scientists say this is an example of how your “mind” is beyond your “skull” because you can, in a sense, make someone move just by looking at them. Wow–I know, very intense which is why I just had to blog about it.

Extending the Mind Into Another Mind Through Microblogs

If I wanted to get really philosophical, I could argue that using microblogs might help us extend our minds by allowing us to practice mind reading, which eventually may lead to more enhanced mental skills.

More from Wikipedia’s explanation: “The separation between the mind, the body, and the environment is seen as an unprincipled distinction. Because external objects play a significant role in aiding cognitive processes, the mind and the environment act as a “coupled system.” This coupled system can be seen as a complete cognitive system of its own. In this manner, the mind is extended into the external world.” Maybe microblogs can help us practice extending our minds from a more tactical perspective. Maybe after using microblogs for a while with a person you could become so connected that when you think of something they can “sense” it.  You have probably felt this phenomenon with a close friend or spouse. Maybe using microblogs you can feel that way with many people who become close to you through their status updates. Maybe, or maybe not.

So, will I include the concept of the extended mind in my research? No, because I am not setting out to prove microblogs help extend the mind–but I had to blog about it because it is just so interesting and maybe someone reading my blog will take this on ;). Check out this additional explanation on YouTube.