Archive for December, 2009


Cognitive Technology

December 9, 2009

Walker, W. Richard, and Douglas J. Herrmann, eds.  Cognitive Technology: Essays on the Transformation of Thought and Society.  McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, NC 2005

In the essay titled “Social Identity and the Self: Getting Connected Online”, the authors McKenna and Seidman offer thoughts on the need of humans to forge relationships with others.  They see this as secondary to the basic needs like food and shelter, but nonetheless extermely important.  In contemporary society, these relationships are seen to be just as important, yet sometimes more difficult than in the past to for, due to modern amenities such as the internet.  These amenities can separate people from others, and so the internet must be the substitute for relationships once founded on personal, physical interaction.

The internet HAS been the substitute for these interactions for many people, albeit a very different type of interaction.  The authors mention the anonymity which brings to the table an often closer relationship because of the intimate information shared over the internet.  The lack of a perception of appearance and mannerisms also contributes to the difference in relationships over the internet.  There are also the factors of increased control and shared interests which influence online relationships.

The phenomena of internet relationships has shaped post-modern society in many ways.  It propitiates the disparity in the built environment: people do not need physical connections because of the internet, and people need the internet because there are no physical connections.  These things bring to light many questions: How does technology alter interaction?  Is the result positive or negative?  Does the entire medium of technology create a sense of anonymity?  Are relationships forged through technology real?  Do they compare to traditionally maintained relationships?  Do they meet our human need for relationships?

An interesting facet of interaction is its inherent quality of self interaction through interaction with others.  One becomes aware of his or herself through interaction with others.  How does technology alter this characteristic?