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Profile: David Kirsh (University of California, San Diego, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  1. Distributed Cognition, Toward a New Foundation for Human-Computer Interaction Research.David Kirsh, Jim Hollan & Edwin Hutchins - 2000 - ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 7 (2):174-196.
    We are quickly passing through the historical moment when people work in front of a single computer, dominated by a small CRT and focused on tasks involving only local information. Networked computers are becoming ubiquitous and are playing increasingly significant roles in our lives and in the basic infrastructure of science, business, and social interaction. For human-computer interaction o advance in the new millennium we need to better understand the emerging dynamic of interaction in which the focus task is no (...)
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  2. A Few Thoughts on Cognitive Overload.David Kirsh - 2000 - Intellectica 1 (30):19-51.
    This article addresses three main questions: What causes cognitive overload in the workplace? What analytical framework should be used to understand how agents interact with their work environments? How can environments be restructured to improve the cognitive workflow of agents? Four primary causes of overload are identified: too much tasking and interruption, and inadequate workplace infrastructure to help reduce the need for planning, monitoring, reminding, reclassifying information, etc… The first step in reducing the cognitive impact of these causes is to (...)
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  3. On Distinguishing Epistemic From Pragmatic Action.David Kirsh & P. Maglio - 1994 - Cognitive Science 18 (4):513-49.
    We present data and argument to show that in Tetris - a real-time interactive video game - certain cognitive and perceptual problems are more quickly, easily, and reliably solved by performing actions in the world rather than by performing computational actions in the head alone. We have found that some translations and rotations are best understood as using the world to improve cognition. These actions are not used to implement a plan, or to implement a reaction; they are used to (...)
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  4. Distrubuted Cognition, Coordination and Environmental Design.David Kirsh - 1999 - Proceedings of the European Conference on Cognitive Science.
    The type of principles which cognitive engineers need to design better work environments are principles which explain interactivity and distributed cognition: how human agents interact with themselves and others, their work spaces, and the resources and constraints that populate those spaces. A first step in developing these principles is to clarify the fundamental concepts of environment, coordination, and behavioural function. Using simple examples, I review changes the distributed perspective forces on these basic notions.
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  5. Embodied Cognition and the Magical Future of Interaction Design.David Kirsh - 2013 - ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 20 (1):30.
    The theory of embodied cognition can provide HCI practitioners and theorists with new ideas about interac-tion and new principles for better designs. I support this claim with four ideas about cognition: (1) interacting with tools changes the way we think and perceive – tools, when manipulated, are soon absorbed into the body schema, and this absorption leads to fundamental changes in the way we perceive and conceive of our environments; (2) we think with our bodies not just with our brains; (...)
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  6. Thinking With External Representations.David Kirsh - 2010 - AI and Society 25 (4):441-454.
    Why do people create extra representations to help them make sense of situations, diagrams, illustrations, instructions and problems? The obvious explanation— external representations save internal memory and com- putation—is only part of the story. I discuss seven ways external representations enhance cognitive power: they change the cost structure of the inferential landscape; they provide a structure that can serve as a shareable object of thought; they create persistent referents; they facilitate re- representation; they are often a more natural representation of (...)
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  7. Problem Solving and Situated Cognition.David Kirsh - 2009 - The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition:264-306.
    In the course of daily life we solve problems often enough that there is a special term to characterize the activity and the right to expect a scientific theory to explain its dynamics. The classical view in psychology is that to solve a problem a subject must frame it by creating an internal representation of the problem’s structure, usually called a problem space. This space is an internally generable representation that is mathematically identical to a graph structure with nodes and (...)
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  8. Thinking with the Body.David Kirsh - 2010 - Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (T):176-194.
    To explore the question of physical thinking – using the body as an instrument of cognition – we collected extensive video and interview data on the creative process of a noted choreographer and his company as they made a new dance. A striking case of physical thinking is found in the phenomenon of marking. Marking refers to dancing a phrase in a less than complete manner. Dancers mark to save energy. But they also mark to explore the tempo of a (...)
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  9.  82
    Problem Solving and Situated Cognition.David Kirsh - 2009 - In Philip Robbins & M. Aydede (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 264--306.
    In the course of daily life we solve problems often enough that there is a special term to characterize the activity and the right to expect a scientific theory to explain its dynamics. The classical view in psychology is that to solve a problem a subject must frame it by creating an internal representation of the problem‘s structure, usually called a problem space. This space is an internally generable representation that is mathematically identical to a graph structure with nodes and (...)
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  10. Metacognition, Distributed Cognition and Visual Design.David Kirsh - 2004 - Cognition, Education and Communication Technology:147--180.
    Metacognition is associated with planning, monitoring, evaluating and repairing performance Designers of elearning systems can improve the quality of their environments by explicitly structuring the visual and interactive display of learning contexts to facilitate metacognition. Typically page layout, navigational appearance, visual and interactivity design are not viewed as major factors in metacognition. This is because metacognition tends to be interpreted as a process in the head, rather than an interactive one. It is argued here, that cognition and metacognition are part (...)
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  11. The Intelligent Use of Space.David Kirsh - 1995 - Artificial Intelligence 73 (1--2):31-68.
    The objective of this essay is to provide the beginning of a principled classification of some of the ways space is intelligently used. Studies of planning have typically focused on the temporal ordering of action, leaving as unaddressed questions of where to lay down instruments, ingredients, work-in-progress, and the like. But, in having a body, we are spatially located creatures: we must always be facing some direction, have only certain objects in view, be within reach of certain others. How we (...)
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  12. The Context of Work.David Kirsh - 2001 - Human-Computer Interaction 16:305-322.
    The question of how to conceive and represent the context of work is explored from the theoretical perspective of distributed cognition. It is argued that to understand the office work context we need to go beyond tracking superficial physical attributes such as who or what is where and when and consider the state of digital resources, people’s concepts, task state, social relations, and the local work culture, to name a few. In analyzing an office more deeply, three concepts are especially (...)
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  13. Explaining Artifact Evolution.David Kirsh - 2006 - Cognitive Life of Things.
    Much of a culture’s history – its knowledge, capacity, style, and mode of material engagement – is encoded and transmitted in its artifacts. Artifacts crystallize practice; they are a type of meme reservoir that people interpret though interaction. So, in a sense, artifacts transmit cognition; they help to transmit practice across generations, shaping the ways people engage and encounter their world. So runs one argument.
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  14.  85
    Distributed Cognition: A Methodological Note.David Kirsh - 2006 - Pragmatics and Cognition 14 (2):249-262.
    Humans are closely coupled with their environments. They rely on being `embedded' to help coordinate the use of their internal cognitive resources with external tools and resources. Consequently, everyday cognition, even cognition in the absence of others, may be viewed as partially distributed. As cognitive scientists our job is to discover and explain the principles governing this distribution: principles of coordination, externalization, and interaction. As designers our job is to use these principles, especially if they can be converted to metrics, (...)
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  15. How Marking in Dance Constitutes Thinking with the Body.David Kirsh - 2011 - The External Mind:183-214.
    In dance, there is a practice called ‘marking’. When dancers mark, they execute a dance phrase in a simplified, schematic or abstracted form. Based on our interviews with professional dancers in the classical, modern, and contemporary traditions, it is fair to assume that most dancers mark in the normal course of rehearsal and practice. When marking, dancers use their body-in-motion to represent some aspect of the full-out phrase they are thinking about. Their stated reason for marking is that it saves (...)
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  16. Adapting the Environment Instead of Oneself.David Kirsh - 1996 - Adaptive Behavior 4 (3-4):415-452.
    This paper examines some of the methods animals and humans have of adapting their environment. Because there are limits on how many different tasks a creature can be designed to do well in, creatures with the capacity to redesign their environments have an adaptive advantage over those who can only passively adapt to existing environmental structures. To clarify environmental redesign I rely on the formal notion of a task environment as a directed graph where the nodes are states and the (...)
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  17. Interaction, External Representation and Sense Making.David Kirsh - 2009 - Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society:1103-1108.
    Why do people create extra representations to help them make sense of situations, diagrams, illustrations, instructions and problems? The obvious explanation – external representations save internal memory and computation – is only part of the story. I discuss eight ways external representations enhance cognitive power: they provide a structure that can serve as a shareable object of thought; they create persistent referents; they change the cost structure of the inferential landscape; they facilitate re-representation; they are often a more natural representation (...)
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  18. Creative Cognition in Choreography.David Kirsh - 2011 - Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Computational Creatifity.
    Contemporary choreography offers a window onto creative processes that rely on harnessing the power of sensory sys- tems. Dancers use their body as a thing to think with and their sensory systems as engines to simulate ideas non- propositionally. We report here on an initial analysis of data collected in a lengthy ethnographic study of the making of a dance by a major choreographer and show how translating between different sensory modalities can help dancers and choreographer to be more creative.
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  19. Complementary Strategies: Why We Use Our Hands When We Think.David Kirsh - 1995 - Proceedings of the 17th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (T):161-175.
    A complementary strategy can be defined as any organizing activity which recruits external elements to reduce cognitive loads. Typical organizing activities include pointing, arranging the position and orientation of nearby objects, writing things down, manipulating counters, rulers or other artifacts that can encode the state of a process or simplify perception. To illustrate the idea of a complementary strategy, a simple experiment was performed in which subjects were asked to determine the dollar value of collections of coins. In the no-hands (...)
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  20. Projection, Problem Space and Anchoring.David Kirsh - 2009 - Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society:2310-2315.
    When people make sense of situations, illustrations, instructions and problems they do more than just think with their heads. They gesture, talk, point, annotate, make notes and so on. What extra do they get from interacting with their environment in this way? To study this fundamental problem, I looked at how people project structure onto geometric drawings, visual proofs, and games like tic tac toe. Two experiments were run to learn more about projection. Projection is a special capacity, similar to (...)
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  21. PDP Learnability and Innate Knowledge of Language.David Kirsh - 1992 - Connectionism 3:297-322.
    It is sometimes argued that if PDP networks can be trained to make correct judgements of grammaticality we have an existence proof that there is enough information in the stimulus to permit learning grammar by inductive means alone. This seems inconsistent superficially with Gold's theorem and at a deeper level with the fact that networks are designed on the basis of assumptions about the domain of the function to be learned. To clarify the issue I consider what we should learn (...)
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  22. Comparing Tangible and Virtual Exploration of Archaeological Objects.David Kirsh - 2010 - Cyber-Archaeology:119-124.
    Can virtual engagement enable the sort of interactive coupling with objects enjoyed by archaeologists who are physically present at a site? To explore this question I consider three points: 1) Tangible interaction: What role does encounter by muscle and sinew play in experiencing and understanding objects? 2) Thinking with things. What sorts of interactions are involved when we manipulate things to facilitate thought? 3) Projection and imagination. Archaeological inquiry involves processes beyond perception. Material engagement of things stimulates these processes. What (...)
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  23. When is Information Explicitly Represented?David Kirsh - 1990 - In Philip P. Hanson (ed.), Information, Language and Cognition. University of British Columbia Press.
  24. Interactivity and Multimedia Interfaces.David Kirsh - 1997 - Instructional Science 25:79-96.
    Multimedia technology offers instructional designers an unprecedented opportunity to create richly interactive learning environments. With greater design freedom comes complexity. The standard answer to the problems of too much choice, disorientation, and complex navigation is thought to lie in the way we design interactivity in a system. Unfortunately, the theory of interactivity is at an early state of development. After critiquing the decision cycle model of interaction—the received theory in human computer interaction—I present arguments and observational data to show that (...)
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  25.  55
    Architectures of Intelligent Systems.David Kirsh - 1992 - Exploring Brain Functions:293-321.
    Theories of intelligence can be of use to neuroscientists if they: 1. Provide illuminating suggestions about the functional architecture of neural systems; 2. Suggest specific models of processing that neural circuits might implement. The objective of our session was to stand back and consider the prospects for this interdisciplinary exchange.
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  26. Implicit and Explicit Representation.David Kirsh - 2003 - Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science 2:478–481.
    The degree to which information is encoded explicitly in a representation is related to the computational cost of recovering or using the information. Knowledge that is implicit in a system need not be represented at all, even implicitly, if the cost of recurring it is prohibitive.
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  27. Situating Instructions.David Kirsh - 2011 - European Perspectives on Cognitive Science.
    A videographic study of origami is presented in which subjects were observed making four different origami objects under five modes of instruction: photos + captions, illustrations-only, illustrations with small captions, illustrations with large captions, and text-only as control. The objective of the study was to explore the gestures and other actions that subjects produce as they try to follow instructions rather than to determine the most effective style of instruction per se. We found that the task of situating instructions to (...)
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  28. Impact of Wireless Electronic Medical Record System on the Quality of Patient Documentation by Emergency Field Responders During a Disaster Mass-Casualty Exercise.David Kirsh - 2011 - Prehospital and Disaster Medicine 26 (4):268-275.
    The use of wireless, electronic, medical records and communications in the prehospital and disaster field is increasing. Objective: This study examines the role of wireless, electronic, medical records and com- munications technologies on the quality of patient documentation by emergency field responders during a mass-casualty exercise.
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  29. Running It Through the Body.David Kirsh - 2012 - Proceedings of the 34th Annual Cognitive Science Society 34:593-598.
    Video data from three large captures of choreographic dance making was analyzed to determine if there is a difference between participant knowledge – the knowledge an agent acquires by being the cause of an action – and observer knowledge – the knowledge an observer acquires through close attention to someone else’s performance. The idea that there might be no difference has been challenged by recent findings about the action observation network and tacitly challenged by certain tenets in enactive perception. We (...)
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  30. Knowledge, Explicit Vs Implicit.David Kirsh - 2009 - Oxford Companion to Consciousness:397-402.
    In the scientific study of mind a distinction is drawn between explicit knowledge— knowledge that can be elicited from a subject by suitable inquiry or prompting, can be brought to consciousness, and externally expressed in words—and implicit knowledge—knowledge that cannot be elicited, cannot be made directly conscious, and can- not be articulated. Michael Polanyi (1967) argued that we usually ‘know more than we can say’. The part we can articulate is explicitly known; the part we cannot is implicit.
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  31. Perceptive Actions in Tetris.David Kirsh & Paul Maglio - 1992 - Proceedings of the AAAI Spring Symposium.
    Cognitive organisms have three rather different techniques for intelligently regulating their intake of environmental information. In order of the time needed to uncover information they are: 1. control of attention: within an image produced by a given sensor certain elements can be selected for additional processing; 2. control of gaze: the orientation and resolution (center of foveation) of the sensor can be regulated to create a new image; 3. control of activity: certain non-perceptual actions can be performed to increase the (...)
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  32.  89
    Interactive Skill in Scrabble.David Kirsh, P. Maglio, T. Matlock, D. Raphaely & B. Chernicky - 1999 - Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
    An experiment was performed to test the hypothesis that people sometimes take physical actions to make themselves more effective problem solvers. The task was to generate all possible words that could be formed from seven Scrabble letters. In one condition, participants could use their hands to manipulate the letters, and in another condition, they could not. Results show that more words were generated with physical manipulation than without. However, an interaction was obtained between the physical manipulation conditions and the specific (...)
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  33. Changing the Rules: Architecture and the New Millennium.David Kirsh - 2001 - Convergence 7 (2):113-125.
    Architecture is about to enter its first magical phase: a time when buildings actively co-operate with their inhabitants; when objects know what they are, where they are, what is near them; when social and physical space lose their type coupling; when wall and partitions change with mood and task. As engineers and scientists explore how to digitse the world around us, the classical constraints of design, ruled so long by the physics of space, time, and materials, are starting to crumble. (...)
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  34. Some Epistemic Benefits of Action-Tetris, a Case Study.David Kirsh & P. Maglio - 1992 - Proceedings of the 14th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
    We present data and argument to show that in Tetris—a real-time interactive video game—certain cognitive and perceptual problems are more quickly, easily, and reliably solved by performing actions in the world rather than by performing computational actions in the head alone. We have found that some translations and rotations are best understood as being used to implement a plan, or to implement a reaction. To substantiate our position we have implemented a computational laboratory that lets us record keystrokes and game (...)
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  35. Design and Evaluation of a Wireless Electronic Health Records System for Field Care in Mass Casualty Settings.David Kirsh, L. A. Lenert, W. G. Griswold, C. Buono, J. Lyon, R. Rao & T. C. Chan - 2011 - Journal of the American Medical Informatic Association 18 (6):842-852.
    There is growing interest in the use of technology to enhance the tracking and quality of clinical information available for patients in disaster settings. This paper describes the design and evaluation of the Wireless Internet Information System for Medical Response in Disasters (WIISARD).
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  36. When is Information Explicitly Represented?David Kirsh - 1992 - The Vancouver Studies in Cognitive Science:340-365.
    Computation is a process of making explicit, information that was implicit. In computing 5 as the solution to ∛125, for example, we move from a description that is not explicitly about 5 to one that is. We are drawing out numerical consequences to the description ∛125. We are extracting information implicit in the problem statement. Can we precisely state the difference between information thati s implicit in a state, structure or process and information that is explicit?
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  37. When Doing the Wrong Thing is Right.David Kirsh, Richard Caballero & Shannon Cuykendall - 2012 - Proceedings of the 34th Annual Cognitive Science Society.
    We designed an experiment to explore the learning effectiveness of three different ways of practicing dance movements. To our surprise we found that partial modeling, called marking in the dance world, is a better method than practicing the complete phrase, called practicing full-out; and both marking and full-out are better methods than practicing by repeated mental simulation. We suggest that marking is a form of practicing a dance phrase aspect-by-aspect. Our results also suggest that prior work on learning by observation (...)
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  38.  20
    Today the Earwig, Tomorrow Man?David Kirsh - 1991 - Artificial Intelligence 47:161-184.
    A startling amount of intelligent activity can be controlled without reasoning or thought. By tuning the perceptual system to task relevant properties a creature can cope with relatively sophisticated environments without concepts. There is a limit, however, to how far a creature without concepts can go. Rod Brooks, like many ecologically oriented scientists, argues that the vast majority of intelligent behaviour is concept-free. To evaluate this position I consider what special benefits accrue to concept-using creatures. Concepts are either necessary for (...)
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  39.  75
    Metacognition, Distributed Cognition and Visual Design.David Kirsh - 2005 - In Peter Gardenfors, Petter Johansson & N. J. Mahwah (eds.), Cognition, education, and communication technology. Erlbaum Associates. pp. 147--180.
    Metacognition is associated with planning, monitoring, evaluating and repairing performance Designers of elearning systems can improve the quality of their environments by explicitly structuring the visual and interactive display of learning contexts to facilitate metacognition. Typically page layout, navigational appearance, visual and interactivity design are not viewed as major factors in metacognition. This is because metacognition tends to be interpreted as a process in the head, rather than an interactive one. It is argued here, that cognition and metacognition are part (...)
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  40. Multi-Tasking and Cost Structure, Implications for Design.David Kirsh - 2005 - Proceedings of the 27th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society:1143-1148.
    I argue that it is not possible to accurately represent our task settings as close environments with a single well defined cost structure. Natural environments are places where many things are done, often at the same time, and often by many people. To appreciate the way such invariants of everyday life affect design I present a case study, a micro-analysis of espresso making at Starbucks to show the challenges facing a cost structure approach.
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  41. Toward An Ontology of Geo-Reasoning to Aid Response to Weapons of Mass Destruction.David Kirsh, Peterson N. & Lenert L. - 2005 - American Medical Assoc Conference:400-404.
    A startling amount of intelligent activity can be controlled without reasoning or thought. By tuning the perceptual system to task relevant properties a creature can cope with relatively sophisticated environments without concepts. There is a limit, however, to how far a creature without concepts can go. Rod Brooks, like many ecologically oriented scientists, argues that the vast majority of intelligent behaviour is concept-free. To evaluate this position I consider what special benefits accrue to concept-using creatures. Concepts are either necessary for (...)
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  42. Adaptable Rooms, Virtual Collaboration and Cognitive Workflow.David Kirsh - 1998 - Lecture Notes in Computer Science.
    This paper introduces the concept of Adaptive Rooms, which are virtual environments able to dynamically adapt to users’ needs, including ‘physical’ and cognitive workflow requirements, number of users, differing cognitive abilities and skills. Adaptive rooms are collections of virtual objects, many of them self-transforming objects, housed in an architecturally active room with information spaces and tools. An ontology of objects used in adap- tive rooms is presented. Virtual entities are classified as passive, reactive, ac- tive, and information entities, and their (...)
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  43.  33
    Projections, Problem Space, and Anchoring.David Kirsh - 2009 - In N. A. Taatgen & H. van Rijn (eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. pp. 2310--2315.
    When people make sense of situations, illustrations, instructions and problems they do more than just think with their heads. They gesture, talk, point, annotate, make notes and so on. What extra do they get from interacting with their environment in this way? To study this fundamental problem, I looked at how people project structure onto geometric drawings, visual proofs, and games like tic tac toe. Two experiments were run to learn more about projection. Projection is a special capacity, similar to (...)
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  44. Maps in the Head and Maps in the Hand.David Kirsh, K. Skundergard & N. Dahlback - 2012 - Proceedings of the 34th Annual Cognitive Science Society.
    Using the perspective of situated cognition we studied how people interact with a physical map to help them navigate through an unfamiliar environment. The study used a mixture of cognitive ethnography and traditional experimental methods. We found that the difference between high and low performing navigators showed up in the speed they completed their task and also in the way they use maps. High performers plan routes using a survey method whereas low performers use a route strategy. We suggest that (...)
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  45.  84
    Putting a Price on Cognition.David Kirsh - 1987 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 26 (S1):119-135.
    In this essay I shall consider a certain methodological claim gaining currency in connectionist quarters: The claim that variables are costly to implement in PDP systems and hence are not likely to be as important in cognitive processing as orthodox theories of cognition assume.
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  46. Distributed Cognition: A Methodological Note.David Kirsh - 2006 - Pragmatics and Cognitionpragmatics and Cognition 14 (2):249-262.
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  47.  83
    Image-Dependent Interaction of Imagery and Vision.David Kirsh, Tm Rebotier & L. McDonough - 2003 - American Journal of Psychology:343-366.
    The influence of imagery on perception depends on the content of the mental image. Sixty-three students responded to the location of the 2 hands of a clock while visualizing the correct or an incorrect clock. Reaction time was shorter with valid cueing. Could this have resulted from visual acquisition strategies such as planning visual saccades or shifting covert attention? No. in this study, a crucial control condition made participants look at rather than visualize the cue. Acquisition strategies should have affected (...)
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  48.  84
    Quantifying the Relative Roles of Shadows, Steropsis, and Aocal Accomodation in 3D Visualization.David Kirsh - 2003 - The 3rd IASTED International Conference on Visualization, Imaging, and Image Processing.
    The goal of three-dimensional visualization is to present information in such a way that the viewer suspends disbelief and uses the screen imagery the same way as he or she would use an identical, real 3D scene. To do this effectively, programmers employ a variety of 3D depth cues. Our own anecdotal experience says that shadows and stereopsis are two of the best for visualization. The nice thing is that both of these are possible to do in interactive programs. They (...)
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  49. Complementary Strategies - Why We Use Our Hands When We Think.David Kirsh - 1995 - Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (T):161-175.
    A complementary strategy can be defined as any organizing activity which recruits external elements to reduce cognitive loads. Typical organizing activities include pointing, arranging the position and orientation of nearby objects, writing things down, manipulating counters, rulers or other artifacts that can encode the state of a process or simplify perception. To illustrate the idea of a complementary strategy, a simple experiment was performed in which subjects were asked to determine the dollar value of collections of coins. In the no-hands (...)
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  50.  87
    Implicit and Explicit Representation.David Kirsh - 2003 - In L. Nadel (ed.), Implicit and Explicit Representation. Nature Publishing Group.
    The degree to which information is encoded explicitly in a representation is related to the computational cost of recovering or using the information. Knowledge that is implicit in a system need not be represented at all, even implicitly, if the cost of recovering it is prohibitive.
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