About this blog

I blog on one of my professional interests; the strengths and frailties of cognitive systems. I focus on topical issues in the news or on the web as they relate to Human Factors, Cognitive Engineering and more broadly, all manner of cognitive systems.

A cognitive system performs cognitive work such as knowing, understanding, planning, deciding, problem solving, analyzing, synthesizing, assessing, and judging. It is a distributed system in which people with diverse roles and capabilities, and with the assistance of technological capabilities, collaborate in the performance of cognitive work. An individual is a cognitive system, as is a team and also an organization.


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Question: Are we a better cognitive system when we work together than when we work by ourselves?


If you search on cognitive systems on the web, you will get a lot of hits on software developments, the implication being that a piece of software can be a cognitive system. However, no piece of software can think or understand. That sort of cognitive activity is a requirement for any system to be viewed as engaging in cognition. On the other hand, while technical devices cannot do cognition, they can support cognition.

A cognitive system will involve at least one person, and possibly many, doing cognitive work, and may also involve the use of computers, software and other devices in support of that cognitive work.

All of my blog entries touch on how we as individuals, teams or organizations perform well as cognitive systems or otherwise create problems for ourselves and others.

Two papers that outline the theory:

Lintern, Gavan (2011). The Airspace as a Cognitive System. The International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 21, 3-15.

Lintern, Gavan (2011). Cognitive systems and communication. Language Sciences, 33, 708–712

A word on the title:

The title of my blog, Special Topics in Cognitive Systems, was in part inspired by the title of one of my favorite novels, Marisha Pessl‘s Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

A word on graphics:

Most graphics on my blog site are either original or have been downloaded from Creative Commons and are published under the terms of the relevant Creative Commons license. Others have been offered without restrictions by the owner of the copyright.