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date: 11 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter retraces the steps of Bærentsen’s (1989) cognitive analysis of the evolution of the rifle. Bærentsen’s central thesis is that the actions and thought processes required to operate a rifle, at any one stage of its development, are ‘built into’ subsequent generations of the artefact. In the process of retracing and critically evaluating Bærentsen’s analysis, a different view gradually emerges, in which greater attention is paid to the interplay between the physical properties of artefacts and the structure of tasks. Throughout the chapter, the interdependencies between artefact design, task structure, task goals, and cognitive tasks are explored and developed.

Keywords: artefact design, task structure, task goals, cognitive task, task–artefact cycle, artefact evolution, reification

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