My 2015 Progress Update (to Feb 15)

Already mid-February! A good time to see whether I’m on track for my 2015 plans.

I’ve never published my personal progress reports online before. But I wanted to take a detailed look at the last few weeks. And it might be helpful to some of my collaborators, stakeholders, clients or customers, who only see a certain slice of my life. Also, it will give you a picture of the R&D behind the products I develop. I run different facets of my projects through different organizations ( CogZest, CogSci Apps Corp. and Simon Fraser University). It also illustrates the variety of tasks that small business leaders engage in.

However, most people will just want to pass up this post. For the others, here’s a view of my activities since Dec 31.

CogZest

  • I put my other book project on hold and I started a new one. I hope to finish it by the end of the year. I’m running multiple projects, as you can see below, so getting this written is a challenge.
  • I’ve developed some book review concepts. I hope to be able to write at least one of them.
  • I watched The Imitation Game as an occasion to reflect on brilliant minds and to conduct an informal survey. So I have been contacting some bright people I know (but don’t be offended if I don’t ask your opinion! You’re free to add it in the comments below, and I might blog specifically on this subject if I have time), asking them open-ended questions about CogZest-related concerns, such as:
    • Are there aspects of Turing’s mind or bright minds in general, their thinking dispositions, or strategies, etc., that struck you as being well portrayed or poorly portrayed. Do you have some ideas to share about this?
    • Did the film elicit any other thoughts about cognition or affect?
    • Do you have intellectual heroes or role models – great minds you admire? If so, care to share one or two names and how they inspire you?
    • Any other thoughts you’d like to share about the film or great minds?
  • One of the themes in that film that interested me in particular was intellectual loneliness, romance and compatibility, so I blogged about it on Valentine’s day.
  • Buddhism is getting a lot of attention these days, so I responded to a statement made about the Dalai Lama about Western Psychology.
  • A brilliant friend/mentor of mine has documented some deep insights about his problem solving skills. I’ve been thinking about these insights; but not enough. Will return to them.

Scholarly Projects

Conference submissions

  • Wrote and submitted an abstract for a paper on productive practice and the regulation of a particular tertiary emotion, aka, perturbance for ISRE conference (Geneva, July). (ISRE stands for International Society for Research on Emotions). This pursues an R&D program I alluded to in the penultimate chapter of Cognitive Productivity, “Meta-effectiveness framework and clinical psychology”. It applies ACT and productive practice to the problem of regulating romantic grief.
  • Co-authored and submitted two abstracts for CogSci–2015 (Pasadena, July).
    • “Cognitive productivity: Can cognitive science improve how knowledge workers’ use IT to learn from source material?” with Geneviève Gauthier (University of Alberta) and Phil Winne (SFU). This is about a project based on Cognitive Productivity. This was meant to be a paper but I ran out of time.
    • “A test of the somnolent mentation theory and the cognitive shuffle hypothesis” with Nancy Digdon. This will report results of an experiment on the super-somnolent mentation theory.
  • Started to write a paper for “IEEE Computational Intelligence Society” (Ireland, July) for the IJCNN 2015 Special Session “Models of Cognitive-Emotional Interactions”. but I gave up when in became clear that I would miss the deadline. Rats!
  • Reviewed a paper by Dean Petters and Everett Waters on “Modelling Emotional Attachment: an Integrative Framework for Architectures and Scenarios” for the IEEE Computational Intelligence that I will miss.
  • I had an insight about a possible medical treatment for nightmares. A bunch of factors converged in my mind to strongly suggest that a particular medication (operating on particular neurotransmitters) might actually relieve nightmares (particularly if augmented with a certain type of psychotherapy). No one previously seems to have put all these pieces together. I have a case study about this to share, with detailed data from one person, and am considering writing a brief report to develop the conjecture. A case study cannot determine causation, of course. So this is just a theory at this point. Like my super-somnolent mentation theory, I’m finding this possible project hard to resist. So, I took some preliminary steps towards it.

Papers

  • A paper on an affective information processing theory of sleep onset and insomnia, which I am co-authoring with Nancy Digdon, was taking more time than expected. It became quite ambitious. Other deadlines loomed. So I suspended in early Jan, but now I’ve now resumed it, interleaved with several other projects. A section I was writing on affect had become too long. So I decided to throw it all out and start over. Nancy provided some papers that showed inconsistency in results on the relation between daytime stress and sleep. We think we know why. Coincidentally, I came across a chapter in the emotion/health literature that corroborates my view on this subject, though its author didn’t explicitly address insomnia. Even more coincidental, the recent chapter proposes a taxonomy of affect that is very similar to the one I presented in Ch. 3 of my Ph.D. thesis. I’m very excited about our new paper, which goes beyond my previous papers on super-somnolent mentation; and the latter are not yet in journals. (One of them is in SFU’s Summit repository
  • Ran out of time for two of the short papers I was working on. We’ll likely resume them later.

Studies

  • I’m co-investigator on an insomnia/sleep onset project whose Principal Investigator (PI) is Prof. Nancy Digdon at MacEwan.
  • Resumed preparing a similar research project with Dr. Les Gellis at Syracuse. Comparing the cognitive shuffle with cognitive refocusing.
  • Still preparing a research project with Prof. Julie Carrier and Dr. Jessica Massicotte-Marquez at Université de Montréal, comparing the cognitive shuffle with another treatment.

Preparing and conducting empirical studies takes time. The PI’s carry the major burden of the work. My role as co-investigator is conceptual, as the studies are testing a theory I developed. CogSci Apps Corp. has developed the software, and we’re providing technical support. It’s a real pleasure working with all of these sleep researchers.

Grant proposals

  • Wrote and submitted a grant proposal to SSHRC on “Assessing and Enhancing Knowledge Workers’ Meta-Documentation and Self-Testing”, with Prof Geneviève Gauthier as co-investigator. (Very pleased to be collaborating with Geneviève! ). This seeks to test some of the theoretical elements of Cognitive Productivity, and to gather data for future research and applications. (Nearly missed the deadline on this one because I had originally planned to write the proposal on my perturbance project (cf. ISRE), but decided to address that one to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and possibly NSERC at this stage. Writing grant proposals is a very time consuming process; but the SFU administration provides excellent support for the administrative parts of this. And I received help from many people. I am very grateful to everyone who helped. OmniGroup is a partner on this, they kindly offered an in-kind contribution. Paul Martin at MacEwan has also signed on to collaborate. I’ve approached Ars Technica as well, hoping they can help me reach knowledge workers to be participants if this proceeds. Hopefully we can work something out. If I get this grant, we will be looking for more private and public sector partners.

CogSci Apps Corp.

Too much going on here to relate (and there is competition!), however:

mySleepButton

  • I’ve designed a cartoon. I’m really enjoying the fact that CogSci Apps Corp. and CogZest allow me to delve into art. One of my personal goals for a few years has been to experience and produce more art in my life. Given my limited resources the best way to meet this goals is through my businesses.
    • If you know a good motion designer capable of 2D Character animation who is looking for a small contract, they can contact support@cogsciapps.com.
  • After apprising the French speaking world of the french version of mySleepButton ( BoutonDodo), conducted a Radio-Canada interview. Our web developer, Jeff Rivett augmented the French web site for mySleepButton. We have plans to do more there.
  • Continued to improve the product. New release coming soon.

Product Development

I can of course only communicate abstractly about these things…

  • I significantly updated a functional specification for a new app. It represents a new type of app, actually! I’ve been developing this concept for several years. It address significant implicit needs knowledge workers have, in a simple and very helpful manner.
  • I’ve also continued to nurse several other longstanding products. I’d love to be able to hand them over to a product manager and development team, but CogSci Apps Corp. is still too small.

Other

We’re a small shop, so I’ve been involved in marketing, legal work (trademarks), customer support, sales, finance, and managing IT.

Community

  • Accepted to participate in the Canada 300 conversation, i.e., where ought Canada be in 150 years. My opinion involves the major themes of CogZest, humanism, and a smattering of Unitarianism. In particular, I think it will be important to apply knowledge for betterment of the world. That in turns involves “meta-effectiveness”, which is a concept I developed in Cognitive Productivity.

Personally

  • As for my personal life, well, that overlaps substantially with my projects, and apart from that overlap, very little happened personally, except for some news buried in the middle of Saturday’s riff on Intellectual companionship and romantic life.
  • And I don’t let work get in the way of physical exercise and sleep.

Published by

Luc P. Beaudoin

Head of CogZest. Author of Cognitive Productivity . Cognitive productivity consultant and public speaker. Adjunct Professor of Education & Adjunct Professor of Cognitive Science, Simon Fraser University Co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. See About Me for more information.

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