Review Socially Extended Epistemology
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My bike needs its brake cables changed. Annoyingly, they are routed through the inside of the frame, and I don’t know how to navigate the new cables from the tiny holes at the front of the frame to those at the back. I have a couple of options. I can take the bike to the shop and pay someone to change them for me. I can look up instructions in my well-thumbed and annotated bike maintenance book and follow them. Or I can ask my friend to work on the problem together. In the first case, I rely on someone to do something for me, for which they will take full credit. The second case involves a kind of cognitive outsourcing to an artefact, allowing me to replace the question of how to change the cables to with the question of how to follow the instructions in the book. In the third case, I build a team to solve the problem. Even if my friend doesn’t know the solution, together we might possess more bike maintenance knowledge, and we can employ collaborative problem solving techniques.
Thanks to Orestis Palermos for comments on this review.
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