A good example of a cognitive artifact that I use regularly and has been increasinly popular are GPS navigation units. You use it by entering your destination, and it will provide you with a map and directions on how to get there. It will read the directions out loud as you drive and reach the appropriate places to change direction. Also, if you want to remember how to get some place that you already are, you just need to only press a button to “save the location.” It stores the location in its memory, so the next time you want to go to that place, all you need to do is find it in your directory of saved locations, and it will tell you how to get to that place.
This is a cognitive artifact, and not just a tool, because it supplements your memory and sense of direction by 1) remembering where all of your “saved locations” are located, 2) figuring out for you how to get there, and the best routes as well as alternative routes, and 3) telling you where you are if you are lost. Many people often internalize these functions. You do not NEED a GPS unit in order to get around or go on trips. Many people themselves after being a place once can remember where it is and how to get there. However, this is useful for people with bad senses of direction, or people about to go on trips to places they’ve never been. The combination of being able to “save locations” to reference in the future, and its direction giving capabilities aids cognition and can give many drivers confidence that they might not had previously had on the road. It could be disadvantageous in the fact that some drivers might get too dependent on a GPS. They might not feel as confident without one, and if theirs breaks or they are forced to drive without one, they may have increased anxieties about driving.