A Framework for Comparing Inventors and Reflecting on the Design Process (Michael E. Gorman, W. Bernard Carlson)

2. Using the framework to compare and reflect.

Unless otherwise noted this page and all its contents and subdocuments are copyright 1994 by Michael E. Gorman

Quoted in W. Bernard Carlson and Michael E. Gorman, 'Understanding Invention as a Cognitive Process: The Case of Thomas Edison and Early Motion Pictures, 1888-1891', Social Studies of Science, 1990, 20: 387-430, 396. This article includes a detailed discussion of how this cognitive framework illuminates the invention of the kinetoscope. For good reviews, see D. Gentner and A.L. Stevens, Mental Models. (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1983), 99-129 and W.B. Rouse and N.M. Morris 'On Looking Into the Black Box: Prospects and Limits in the Search for Mental Models', Psychological Bulletin, 1986, 100:349-363. Ronald Finke deals with the role of visualization in invention by asking experimental subjects to mentally construct new devices out of simple shapes. In effect, these subjects are creating and manipulating mental models, though Finke does not cite this literature, nor does he include comparative case-studies detailing the processes of actual inventors. See R. Finke, Creative Imagery: Discoveries and Inventions in Visualization (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1990). This term is adapted from R.J. Weber and D.N. Perkins, 'How to Invent Artifacts and Ideas', New Ideas in Psychology, 1989, 7: 49-72.  Reese V. Jenkins suggested that Edison frequently employed certain mechanical and electrical components (such as the cylinder and stylus) in his inventions. See his article, 'Elements of Style: Continuities in EdisonŐs Thinking,' Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1984, 424: 149-62. To some extent, mechanical representations resemble the technical structures which Bertrand Gille defined as the basic tools and elements underlying all technology. See his History of Techniques, (Gordon and Breach, 1986), vol. 1, 10-14. Finally, Eugene Ferguson has described how several technologists catalogued mechanical movements; one example is the mechanical alphabet created in the eighteenth century by the Swedish engineer Christopher Polhem. See his article 'The MindŐs Eye: Nonverbal Thought in Technology,' Science, 1977, 197: 827-36. For a discussion of how Edison used this mechanical representation in the kinetoscope, consult Carlson and Gorman, op. cit. (12), 398-9. For examples of how he used it throughout his telegraph work, see Reese V. Jenkins et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas A. Edison, Vol. 1: The Making of an Inventor, February 1847-June 1873 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), especially 200, 323-5, 370, 407, and 428. Cognitive psychologists have studied scientific heuristics in detail, using experimental, computational and historical methods; see Gorman, Simulating Science Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992. Very little attention has been paid to heuristics used by inventors; see Weber and Perkins, op. cit. for an exception. In fact, much of the material for this lecture came from Gorman, Mehalik, Carlson & Oblon **