The Relationship Between Tools And People

The Relationship Between Tools And People

A new study was done to establish how people work with functional tools.

Naresh Kumar
  • 26 march 2010

A study designed to test a fundamental concept of German philosopher, Martin Heidegger that  “people don’t notice familiar, functional tools, but instead “see through” them to a task at hand”, was done by scientist Anthony Chemero of the Franklin & Marshall College.

Wired explains the study:

In the new study, Chemero and graduate students Dobromir Dotov and Lin Nie tracked the hand movements of people using a mouse to guide a cursor during a series of motor tests. Part way through the tests, the cursor lagged behind the mouse. After a few seconds, it worked again. When Chemero’s team analyzed how people moved the mouse, they found profound differences between patterns produced during mouse function and malfunction.

When the mouse worked, hand motions followed a mathematical form known as “one over frequency,” or pink noise… Scientists don’t fully understand pink noise, but there’s evidence that our cognitive processes are naturally attuned to it.

But when the researchers’ mouse malfunctioned, the pink noise vanished. Computer malfunction made test subjects aware of it — what Heidegger called “unreadiness-at-hand” — and the computer was no longer part of their cognition. Only when the mouse started working again did cognition return to normal.

Chemero explains that the results demonstrate how people fuse with their tools.

The experiment was published in the Public Library of Science.

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