#Change11 Short Notes on Designing Cyborgs by Jon Dron

An excellent presentation by Jon Dron here. Ailsa has summarised her notes with reflection here.  Jenny has posted here, and here too.

Some notes that I have taken, together with my reflection.

Jon explained about the 3 types of collectives:

1. Direct

2. Mediated

3. Stigmergic – sign-based, sematectonic

Effective collectives:

1. Adaptability

2. Stigmergy

3. Evolvability

4. Parcellation

5. Trust

6. Sociability

7. Constraint

8. Context

9. Connectivity

10. Scale

Jon used the following definition of Technology: The orchestration of phenomena for some use – by Brian Arthur.

I found this similar to the concept of technology affordance.  Whilst Ailsa referred to ANT as a way to describe the relationship between technology and human (the actors in the networks).

I found it interesting when Jon referred prayers as “part of technology” that are aimed to achieve goals, in case of religion, to ask for forgiveness or favours 🙂

Jon sums up that all technologies are assemblies.

Soft technologies – Active orchestration of phenomena by people.

Hard technologies – Orchestration of phenomena embedded in the technology.  This could relate to set of processes, or procedures, which impose constraints on the processes, so steps and instructions must be followed.

Hard is easy, is efficient.  Hard is complete, is brittle, but could limit change and creativity.  If the process is automated, people have little control over that process.

Soft is hard, is incomplete.  This could be part human, part machine.  Soft is flexible.  It enables creativity.  People could have control over how things are used.

Design patterns:


– Adapt

– Aggregate

– Recommend

– Extend


– Automate

– Replace

– Filter

– Limit

Artificial apes – Our technologies are not just reflections of us or things that we use.  They are, in part or whole, made of us.  This sounds like technology in us, and us in technology, and that technology shapes us as good as we have shaped technology.

Good cyborg/bad cyborg

Humans are part of technologies and humans are in control – Good cyborg

Humans are part of technologies and technologies are in control – Bad cyborg.

Operating manuals, legal systems could be one where technologies are in control – bad cyborg.

Some danger signs that a technology is too soft – repetition of boring tasks, the need for skill, complexity and puzzlement.

The holy grail – not too hard, not too soft, just right.

Assembly – Remix, Reuse and Resample.

The use of hashtag in Twitter has been hardened as a technology (i.e. Twitter as a Soft Technology)

What we need would be designing technology – half human, half machine that is just right.

Pictures: Google images

3 thoughts on “#Change11 Short Notes on Designing Cyborgs by Jon Dron

  1. Pingback: Short Notes on Designing Cyborgs by Jon Dron | Digital Delights | Scoop.it

  2. Pingback: GT MOOC Week 12: Advanced Learning Strategies with Clark Aldrich | The Georgia Tech MOOC

  3. Pingback: Short Notes on Designing Cyborgs by Jon Dron | e-Xploration | Scoop.it

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