"How social is social?"

How social is social?

In contrast to some who believe that cognition is primarily an internal physical process, Ana Viseu's brief look of the role of artifact in cognition, How Social is Social? Rethinking the role of artifacts in cognitive science, identifies three ways that conceptualization is affected by artifact, the tools, including language, with which we act and receive the actions of others.


  • Internalizes social activity. Thought is first social, then internalized via artifact. Artifacts mediate this action but are passive.
  • Extends individual thought. The distributed mind exists in media, which according to Marshall McLuhan places greater importance on the media used. Viseu: "they are ecosystems that favour certain social dynamics, certain social patterns of organization and certain modes of experience."
  • Is an actor in its own right. See Actor Network Theory

The last point reminds me of Bruce Sterling's idea of "spime." Read my struggles with the term here and here.