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What are we?: the convergence of self and communications technology

June 2, 2009

By Mark Turner
Department of Cognitive Science
Case Western Reserve University 


The invention of each new communications technology has brought new opportunities for understanding the self by blending our vague, diffuse notions of self over time with our notion of self as a user of the technology. These technologies include semaphore signaling systems, signed language, telegraphy, personal letter writing, telephony, radio, television, e-mail, and chat rooms. We know our technologies better than we know ourselves. Our communications technologies are designed to operate at human scale and are therefore at the center of what we know best. Accordingly, we think of ourselves in terms of them, by blending our general concept of ourselves with our understanding of how the communications technology works.

Keywords: conceptual integration, blending, technology, identity, cognitive science

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