Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Communication and Collaboration of Distributed Knowledge

The Wikibook exercises definitely can be considered an expression of Distributed Cognition—in particular the communication and collaboration of distributed knowledge. According to Carroll (p. 210), “Distributing work across a group of agents must involve the organization of that group to coordinate activity through some form of communication.” Professor Jordan communicates the work needed by tasking students with homework assignments, identifying into which chapters students should contribute, and defining the subject of the submissions. The wikibook becomes a dynamic system, pregnant with new information each week. The submissions themselves are mental representations of students’ understanding of course content. All of this effort “constitutes the system’s expertise” and is distributed across the heads of actors. While it is possible for a single person to be aware of the organization (the only exception to the framework for Communication and Coordination of Distributed Knowledge), it is unlikely that a student will read every other submission before submitting his or her own—in fact, it would be impossible to do so unless the last student to submit to wikibook read every other submission first. Because of this group effort, the wikibook has become an artifact that can be used in problem solving by future users.


Carroll, John. 2003. HCI Models, Theories, and Frameworks. San Francisco, California. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.