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How Digital Media Improve Think, Action and Work

The development of information and communication technologies has made enormous progress in the 21st century.  Whether finding a telephone number in Australia or a weather prediction for Timbuktu:  what took a considerable amount of effort 30 years ago can now be determined within 30 seconds,  even if at the time you happen to be taking a walk in the forest. Digital technologies have created an interface which makes access to an enormous variety of information possible in real time. This interface supports how we think, what we know, how we make decisions and how we behave – in this sense it is a cognitive interface, in that it can collaboratively support people’s cognitive processes. Interfaces are also in a second sense cognitive interfaces, in that they themselves increasingly demonstrate characteristics of cognitive systems. They are increasingly adaptible and they make inferences, thus “participating“ to some extent in social and cognitive processes.


The potential of digital technologies is especially promising in knowledge-intensive activities – these can be in learning contexts, but also occupationally related uses of cognitive interfaces.


The founding Leibniz-WissenschaftsCampus “Informational Environments“ (term 2010-2016) was occupied with how lifelong learning under the conditions of a digital society took shape and could be shaped.  A central concept in this undertaking was the “informational environment.“ This was about the totality of information sources which an individual used to get information relevant for education. In the digital society of the 21st century such sources are not only found in offline contexts (e.g., family, friends, clubs), but are also increasingly digital resources. The omnipresent accessibility of digital resources, for instance Smartphones, makes it possible for individuals to acquire information in the Internet in real time, to gain knowledge, solve problems, understand associations, make decisions and systematically plan their actions.


The new Leibniz-WissenschaftsCampus Tübingen “Cognitive Interfaces“ focuses now on the way in which interfaces between individuals and their informational environments have to be created in order to support their “knowledge work“: acquiring knowledge and understanding, constructing knowledge, exchanging knowledge, solving problems,  making decisions. It is thus focusing more strongly on psychological and pedogogical constructs, as well as on design aspects in the design of interfaces.