A bit of old news: I had a paper published in gnovis, CCT’s peer-reviewed journal!

Huber, L. (2015). Otto’s Notebook vs the Memex: Comparing the smartphone and the PC as two paradigms of cognitive enhancement.


The history of computing has been characterized by an effort to replicate and augment human intelligence. Today’s personal computers are still substantially similar in their overall goals to the “memex,” a hypothetical computer prototype described by Vannevar Bush in 1945: both are designed to use computation to augment advanced forms of intellectual labor. Yet in the last decade, the rise of the smartphone has disrupted this long-standing paradigm of cognitive enhancement. It introduces a paradigm characterized by less complex but more pervasive kinds of cognitive enhancement. This is a kind of cognitive enhancement perhaps more akin to ever-present notebook that facilitated Otto the hypothetical Alzheimer’s patient in his daily activities (as described by Clark and Chalmers in their seminal paper on extended cognition in 1998). In this paper I compare and contrast some of the basic augmentations and affordances of the smartphone as compared to the PC (either desktop or laptop). Using Heersmink’s “multi-dimensional matrix for exploring cognitive-artifact relations” (Heersmink, 2012), I conducted a preliminary investigation suggesting some of the concrete differences between these two paradigms of computation and cognitive enhancement.

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