News: CogZest Spins Off CogSci Apps Corp. to Develop and Market Its Software Portfolio

I’m very happy to announce that CogZest has given birth to a new venture, CogSci Apps Corp..

In a nutshell

The short of it is that On Feb 27, 2014, I closed a deal in which I transferred CogZest’s software/ intellectual property portfolio to CogSci Apps Corp.™ in exchange for shares in the new privately held company.

CogSci Apps Corp. will develop the kind of software you’ve been expecting from CogZest, namely software that is based on cognitive science and that improves users’ cognitive productivity. Some of this foundational cognitive science consists of new knowledge produced by myself over the years.

CogSci Apps Corp. has submitted its first iOS app to the Apple App Store.

The history

It seems fitting for me to take this opportunity to look back at what has been a long journey.

One year after the acquisition of Abatis Systems corp. by Redback Networks Canada, I started the predecessor to CogZest, code name “Lakatos” (in memory of Imre Lakatos). The objective of Lakatos was to develop software to help people “turn information into knowledge”. (As I described in Cognitive Productivity, I later realized that a more accurate slogan is to “turn information into mindware“, given that knowledge is not in the head but mindware is!) I gladly accepted a golden handshake from my imploding former employer, Redback, and spent six months developing a business proposal and several specifications for said cognitive productivity software.

Finding it difficult to convince key people in my network to join me in co-founding “Lakatos”, I accepted an invitation from Prof. Phil Winne of Simon Fraser University to merge my projects into his. We were a good fit. He is a world-renown educational psychologist who researches self-regulated learning (SRL) with information technology. I contributed my cognitive science background, experience designing software, and startup experience (having been an at founding employee of two tech companies that rapidly created billions of dollars of wealth, in one of which I held various technical leadership positions). I took on the technical and project management lead of his Learning Kit project. We agreed to build software tools that would help researchers study learning, help learners learn, and help content developers deploy their content in an educationally meaningful fashion.

During the course of this SFU project, we effectively decided to favour R&D over commercialization. We successfully competed for grants totalling several million dollars to build software applications and much scientific knowledge about SRL.

I ultimately decided it was time to resurrect and update the Lakatos plan for a world that had changed a lot in many respects, but in core respects was disappointingly the same. (Chapter 3 and Part 3 of Cognitive Productivity describes how adult learners still do not have access to the cognitive productivity software they really need.) So, I formed CogZest in 2010. I’ve blogged a bit about CogZest on these pages, but much of the action happened behind the scenes, with only vague allusions to our software product development. In stealth, I’ve been designing a largish suite of cognitive science-based products. On a very small budget and with a small team, we’ve built several prototypes and have apps at various stages of development. Running so many projects in parallel on a small budget slows things down, but we’ve not been in a terrible hurry and have learned a lot in the process! CogSci Apps will, we hope, be able to move things faster forward.

This site has documented some of my other product development. I’ve done a lot of original theoretical research in cognitive science. Amongst other things, I’ve proposed a promising conjecture about key cognitive processes behind sleep onset. This theory can be used to help people get to sleep faster, which in turn can improve their health and cognitive productivity. I’ve written a substantial contribution to the literature on self-directed learning with technology (Cognitive Productivity: The Art and Science of Using Knowledge to Become Profoundly Effective) and several cognitive science papers and done some scholarly presentations. We’ve worked on apps for some of this knowledge.

I’ve also developed workshops and am working on a second book—this one co-authored with a name many of you productivity enthusiasts will recognize when I announce it—that will help people apply the principles of Cognitive Productivity on Macs and iOS devices.

What’s going to happen to CogZest?

CogZest has gotten smaller and more focused. CogZest no longer designs software. My tiny development team now serves CogSci Apps Corp.

I will continue to use CogZest as my training and publishing business. Currently, CogZest only publishes my books and blog posts, but that may change. I will continue to incubate the Zest of Brel project.

I recognize that up until this point, CogZest has been difficult for the market to grasp. I’ve tolerated this situation because I’ve been mainly in product development mode.

However, now that we’ve incorporated my software IP, I am preparing to focus my brand. I will soon publish my new logo and slogan which will finally make it much simpler for people to understand what CogZest is all about. The second book will also help in this respect.

I’ve been writing as “we” until this point, because I had a software team working in the background and other people involved. I have ambitions to grow CogZest to again be bigger than myself. And I still contract out several services. However, until the site is updated, you will continue to come across references to the old-“we” and “our software.” (I won’t change the blog posts.)

I am now the president of the fledgling CogSci Apps Corp. with product management, cognitive science, and other roles. Brian Shi is responsible for R&D.

Why another “Cog” name? Couldn’t you be more original?

Yes, I could be more original.

But you can’t beat “CogSci Apps” as a name that describes the essence of this new company. That’s why the company is in the process of obtaining a trademark for its name.

And CogZest conveys the ethos I “impute” , as Apple’s first president put it.

Published by

Luc P. Beaudoin

Head of CogZest. Author of Cognitive Productivity books. Co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. Adjunct Professor of Education, Simon Fraser University. Why, Where, and What I Write. See About Me for more information.

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