Alan Saunders then asks a good question. Why does this analysis of the Globe Theater performances require EM? Why do we have to add the part about the whole of the Globe being a cognitive system?
The first part of Sutton's reply is that Hutchins' theory of EM inspired Tribble, but he admits after that that, in principle, Tribble's account can be given without the EM view. Then, he turns to the point that prior to Tribble's work, scholars had supposed that there was a single prompter, but now there is the hypothesis that there were many prompts.
But, the obvious rejoinder here (right?) is to ask why multiple prompts versus a single prompt should make for extended cognition. Note, moreover, that saying that the whole of the Globe is a cognitive system does not really address the original question of how the Elizabethan actors remembered all their lines. The Globe-as-a-cognitive-system story just encourages a (trivial) reformulation of the question. How did the Elizabethan actors (who were part of this larger cognitive system) remember all their lines? Now the question is one of how certain components of a system did their job. That seems to me to be no advance at all. The real advance was in seeing the many components rather than the one.Sutton adds that this single prompter was thought to be the single intelligent agent behind the performance and that that is not the case.
Personally, I'm kind of skeptical about this last bit of commentary. Did anyone really think that the actors on stage were not intelligent agents behind the performance? I guess that it depends on how much one loads into the word "behind". Maybe the actors weren't "behind" the performance, but part of the performance.Now, I confess that I have not read the original Tribble paper, but I should have and it is on my list of things to read. But, there is that Gibson thing I have to read .... =)