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Distributed Cognition is a concept from Cognitive Science used to better contextualize cognitive processes within material, historical, and socio-cultural constraints. Cognitive Science and Neuroscience, as the names imply, tend to take the brain as the fundamental unit of analysis. While this can be fruitful in analyzing some functions of the brain, cognitive science and neuroscience often finds very little common ground with modern anthropology, sociology, and history. Distributed cognition analyzes how individual cognitive processes function in relation to information technologies and larger social processes. It takes as its central hypothesis that the brain only represents part of the overall cognitive functioning of mankind and that the brain can accomplish much more when it is connected to a network of other brains and computers.
All media and technology can be re-envisioned through this perspective. Writing allowed us to free our memory and direct the brain to other tasks. Computers have allowed us to take this process to an entirely new level by allowing us to store information in a medium that can be accessed from anywhere. The internet combined with search platforms could be considered the collective cognition of our species, sometimes called the "noosphere".