Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application (JITTA)


In the current issue of JITTA, Ian Mitroff takes to task a certain breed of technologists who champion a futuristic vision of humanity as cybernetic organisms. These visionaries, Mitroff argues, need to "go back to school" in order to gain a more sophisticated and sociologically-informed view of we humans and how we know. One key thing that is missing in the thinking of these technologists, Mitroff notes, is the recognition that mind is "'distributed' in society." The current paper takes this theme as its point of departure. However, in lieu of sending the excessively narrow technologist back to school, three books are recommended as "bedtime reading." They include Edwin Hutchins' Cognition in the Wild, Louis L. Bucciarelli's Designing Engineers, and Bruno Latour's Aramis or the Love of Technology. A review of these works, which all tell stories about the creation and/or use of technology, support Mitroff's point that mind is social. Moreover, they show that mind is in fact socio-technical in nature. Knowledge is seen to be embedded in our technologies and discourses, as well as in our individual minds. What we can be said to know, in fact, arises in complex interactions among and across these domains. These books, accordingly, also shed light on the truly broad scope of our endeavor, when we undertake the development of new technologies and systems. Moreover, in the spirit of this special issue of JITTA, these books call our attention to the centrality of language and dialogue in the creation of technology and the knowledge that is associated with it.