About Luc P. Beaudoin (myself!)
- At CogZest: founder and sole proprietor,
- at Simon Fraser University, the academic home of my Cognitive Productivity Research Project: Adjunct Professor of Education, and Adjunct Professor of Cognitive Science,
- at CogSci Apps Corp.: Co-founder; president; product management.
- Co-founder of the Somnolence+ initiative.
I am also author of Cognitive Productivity: Using Knowledge to Become Profoundly Effective, and of Cognitive Productivity with macOS®: 7 Principles for Getting Smarter with Knowledge. I’m editor and principal author of Discontinuities: Love, Art, Mind (a perpetual motion machine).
I am working on a number of cognitive science-related R&D projects.
Longish Bio in chronological order
I have always sought to study/work with, learn from and learn about brilliant minds. Also, from course work to professional R&D, I have systematically chosen to work on hard problems at with an optimistic sense of my zone of proximal development.
- My undergraduate degree was in Psychology at the University of Ottawa. However, it could just as well have been in cognitive science, because I took many courses in all its main disciplines except for anthropology.
- Thanks to NSERC scholarship awards, I worked in an affective neuroscience lab, examining the effects of electrical stimulation of the lateral hypothalamus in rats on self-stimulation thresholds — basically priming incentive motivational systems. This led to a publication in Behavioural Brain Research , and informed my Ph.D. and later understanding of motivation. This relates to the now established distinction between “wanting” and “liking”.
- Meanwhile, my honour’s thesis was in theoretical neuroscience: A computational investigation of the evolution of vision. My thesis supervisor was Claude Lamontagne, himself a Ph.D. in AI [vision] from the U. of Edinburgh. Claude was a 3M National Fellow for Teaching and Learning Higher Education.
- I spent the first year of my Ph.D. in Cognitive Science at Sussex University in England. (Sussex was then arguably the top school of Cognitive Science in the world, with such luminaries as Aaron Sloman, Andy Clark and Phil Agre and students who would go on to make a difference.) I completed my Ph.D. thesis at the University of Birmingham. Effectively and integrative design-oriented study of motivation and executive functioning), though I had not coined the term. My thesis supervisor was Prof. Aaron Sloman. (See my article: Homage to Aaron Sloman, Winner of the 2020 APA K. Jon Barwise Prize)
- My external examiner was Maggie Boden, one of the most accomplished thinkers in cognitive science (including AI). I have more books on my shelves written by her than by any other writer. I will endeavour to have a chapter about her work in Great Contemporaries in Cognitive Science and Related Endeavours.
- I became lecturer and then Assistant Professor of Military Psychology and Leadership at the Royal Military College of Canada (e.g., Motivation and Performance Enhancement). This forced me to think seriously about bridging theoretical and applied psychology. This was a daunting task that became a lifelong passion. That partly explains why I allowed myself to be ‘lured’ into industry; well, I freely resigned to join Newbridge Networks Corp.
- I was an at-founding employee of Tundra Semiconductor (technical writer). Jim Roche was VP/GM during my tenure. Jim went on to become CEO of Stratford Managers.
- I was the first employee of Abatis Systems Corp. (“Senior” Software Developer). Abatis was co-founded by Paul Terry and Adam Lorant, who were joined by John Seminerio. They became three of Canada’s most accomplish tech entrepreneurs. Dr. Paul Terry is now CEO of PHOTONIC, a promising Canadian quantum computing startup. I should mention that Dr. Richard (“Renwei”) Li was also an early employee and close friend of mine at Abatis who contributed an enormous amount of technical knowledge to its success. (Dr. Li is now Chief Scientist and VP of Network Technologies at Futurewei Technologies, Inc. And he is mentioned in my first Cognitive Productivity book 😉).
At Tundra and Abatis I learned an enormous amount about designing products and doing tech startups. I quickly got up to speed on their respective technologies (semiconductors and multi-service networking gear). Two huge learning curves, where quickly absorbed an insane number of RFCs and other standards. I continued to learn about the human mind: motivation, leadership, learning, knowledge building, etc. The combined valuation of those two companies soared to well over $2 billion in less than 5 and 2.5 years, respectively. This too showed that spectacular progress is possible when working with all-round excellent minds. However, I found the technologies boring compared to the human mind and planned to form a psychology-based startup after acquisition.
Given my training in cognitive science, several things struck me as odd at Tundra and Abatis. For instance, despite the fact that my colleagues and I had full access to technical documentation in electronic formats and the best computers and monitors, we printed reams of documentation. I was also struck by the fact that none of the employees seemed be well steeped in cognitive science or psychology, nor was it valued. I became fascinated by the question: what would it take for knowledge workers to be far better able to learn deeply with technology, on screen, without needing to print?
So, after Abatis was acquired by Redback Networks, I set my sights on creating my own company (code named “Lakatosh”) and products to enhance cognitive productivity. One of my main goals has since then been to help knowledge workers turn external information into personal knowledge that is not just in the machines [technologies] but active in their minds [the brain’s virtual machinery]. Ever since, I’ve been designing products to optimize learning, mastery and remembering, which extend and leverage the best of cognitive science and technology.
In 2002, I took these ideas to Prof. Phil Winne’s projects at Simon Fraser University. Prof Winne is one of the world’s most accomplished researchers in self-regulated learning with a particular interest in technology. We developed highly innovative software to enhance and research self-regulated learning (“gStudy” and “nStudy”). As his research associate, I led our software development teams and helped raise millions of dollars to fund our R&D. I also used this opportunity to keep learning about how the mind can drive its cognitive productivity.
In 2010, I became Adjunct Professor of Education at Simon Fraser University, and I launched CogZest.
In 2014, I became Adjunct Professor of Cognitive Science at SFU while remaining Adjunct Professor of Education there. (I might be the only professor at SFU to have have adjunct appointments in two different faculties.)
You can check out some of my publications on Research Gate and at Simon Fraser University.
In 2014, I also spun-off some of CogZest’s intellectual property portfolio to a new startup co-founded by Brian Shi and myself, CogSci Apps Corp..
- In 2014, we at CogSci Apps Corp. released mySleepButton.
- In 2019, we at CogSci Apps Corp. released Hook, which is now called Hookmark. This app is designed to help users retrieve the information that is most relevant to their current context, so that they can remain in flow while doing knowledge-intense work. Hookmark: “Hook” is for “retrieval” and “mark” is for bookmarking.
Both of those software products are highly original (first of their kind) and inspired by my academic research. They have also been quite well received. [sorry, mum, for boasting; but know that I couldn’t have done it without you!]
If you’ve reflected on CogZest’s mission, you may have realized that an interdisciplinary background is required to accomplish it. I’ve written this page to highlight some of the background that I think is required and that I bring to the task. That includes understanding:
- Cognitive science – understanding the mind as a complex but somewhat accessible and controllable collection of virtual machines
- Affect: motivation (including goal processing), emotions, attitudes and performance enhancement
- Self-directed learning
- Interpersonal relations, values and ethics
- Research and development
- Software development and information technology
- Knowledge worker productivity
- Personality, particularly inventiveness and efficiency
- Knowledge industry and building world-class intellectual products.
I discussed this R&D approach in my first Cognitive Productivity book.
In 2018, I renamed the approach: “integrative design-oriented (‘IDO’) R&D”. I published A Manifesto for Integrative Design-oriented Cognitive Science and AI – CogZest. (Often one has to name a concept to make it work.)
I also have an active research project to better understand sleep-onset and treat insomnia. I coined the term “insomnolence” to mean difficulty falling asleep or getting back to sleep (whether it is clinical or not); not all insomnolence is insomnia, and vice versa. As you might expect, I take an IDO approach to this too. This project includes several of the top insomnia researchers in Canada and US. (Célyne H. Bastien, Julie Carrier, Daniel Kay, Sheryl Guloy, Alexandre Lemyre, and others.)
If you’re interested in the intersection of learning, thinking, knowledge building and productivity, then I hope you will find CogZest appealing.
- read our blog;
- try out our workshops;
- consider our coaching and
- take advantage of our consulting services (where we help tech companies design software that reflects integrative design-oriented understand of the mind).
From the pandemic onwards, CogZest no longer directly provides training services. Instead, we deliver sleep training via Somnolence+ . For cognitive productivity training, see the
Hookmark Cognitive Productivity Trainer Certification Program – Hookmark.
Luc P. Beaudoin, Ph.D. (Cognitive Science)
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