A couple of months before I started university, I spent some of my evenings learning to type on a typewriter. (A year or so before I purchased a Mac Plus.) My girlfriend of the day pleaded with me to engage in more pleasurable summer evening activities with her. However, I knew that I’d be writing documents for the next four years and beyond, and that I had better learn to type. I wanted to be able to focus on my ideas so they might flow as fluidly from my brain as they needed to. My playmate decompensated; but I Continue reading Is It a Good Idea to Enable the iPhone’s Predictive Keyboard and Auto-correction?
“You don’t mean to say that this charming, clever young lady has been so foolish as to accept you?”
Lord Caversham to Lord Goring in Oscar Wilde’s, An Ideal Husband
“Evolution is an examination with two papers. To succeed demands a pass in both.”
Steve Jones, Darwin’s Ghost (p. 76)
The Arts Club of Vancouver’s performance of A Christmas Story—The Musical had me in stiches. But why?
When they read, experts tend to seek out the gist and structure of a document. They pay attention to the table of contents. However, many PDF documents don’t have a table of contents. Fortunately, there are tools, like Smile Software’s PDFPenPro (coupon below), that enable you to add a table of contents while you’re reading. Continue reading Editing Tables of Contents with PDF Pen Pro: Delving Tips and Screencast
Reading contributes more to human excellence than any other form of knowledge acquisition. Reading comes so naturally to experts that they don’t tend to think much about the process. Yet reading is one of the most sophisticated mental activities.
Continue reading Are we Doomed to Read with Information Technology?
I believe that all the important problems of war and peace, exploitation and brotherhood, hatred and love, sickness and health, misunderstanding and understanding, the happiness and unhappiness of mankind will yield only to a better understanding of human nature. […]
Psychology should be more humanistic, more concerned with the problems of humanity, and less with the problems of the guild.
A. H. Maslow. Toward a humanistic psychology
There will be a general federal election in Canada On Monday, October 19th. The international press and even the leading conservative Canadian newspaper, the Globe and Mail, have been extremely critical of our prime minister, Stephen Harper. According to polls, the vast majority of Canadians want to replace this government. But because of our “first past the post” electoral system, the Harper Conservatives might still be returned to power.
Given the glut of well publicized facts about the Harper Tory record, and given the viability of the Liberal Party and New Democratic Party (NDP), it is difficult for me to fathom how Canadians, some of them our esteemed friends, would still support the Harper Conservative government.
In Cognitive Productivity I described several illusions and biases that interfere with our ability to leverage knowledge resources. The first set of illusions is to over-estimate or underestimate the “helpfulness” of a knowledge resources.
Illusions of Helpfulness of Information
Selecting the right resource to process is critical to the development of effectiveness. Continue reading Is This Information Sufficiently Helpful?
I’ve begun to offer a pair of workshops on emotion that focus primarily on romantic love, technically known as “limerence”. The first workshop is designed primarily to enhance participants’ understanding of their emotions, whereas the second is focused on “relating to” their emotions. This post is about the first workshop.
Why Understand Limerence (Romantic Love)?
So what does limerence have to do with cognitive productivity? As I argued at length in Cognitive Productivity, to learn effectively we must not merely develop dry, cognitive mechanisms and representations (the substrate of memory, skills, etc.). Otherwise, we will at most develop an “inert” storehouse of knowledge, as Alfred Whitehead put it. We must rather change ourselves affectively: develop inclinations, feelings, desires and tendencies to apply what we’ve learned. To this end, it helps to understand emotions.
Furthemore, emotions generally, and limerence in particular, can directly promote productivity and creativity. (Beethoven’s may have been fueled by his unrequited love. There are countless similar examples. Compare the reference to The Mating Mind below.) Emotions can also, of course, destroy our ability to focus.
Smile Software’s TextExpander is the productivity app I use the most. It allows one to define and expand abbreviations for frequently used content (text and images). For example, suppose you frequently need to refer to me in text. You might create a snippet whose abbreviation is “@luc” (without the quotes) and whose target content is “Luc P. Beaudoin“. (See the section on name abbreviations.) That’s particularly handy for long or foreign names. (Mine is a French name).
TextExpander provides statistics that quantify its benefits. From the screenshot below you can see that I’ve expanded nearly 212,000 snippets, saving me 2.8M characters. Continue reading The Value of TextExpander Snippet Conventions: Web Addresses, Citations, Bibliographical References, Markdown and More
A quick note about the speed and some characteristics of mental change in adults, using an example from Ron Burnett. Accommodation can happen quickly when the right conditions are in place. Accommodation is the crown jewels of mental development, including many important forms of learning and knowledge building. It is what happens to your mind as it grasps a new concept, theory or set of concepts and can now see the world in a new way, in its terms. In Cognitive Productivity, I likened this to acquiring a new perceptual modality.
Most previous thinkers on the subject emphasized the purely “cognitive” aspects of accommodation. What strikes me however are the affective dimensions of many forms of accommodation. I.e., in accommodation one doesn’t simply perceive and think differently, but one’s value system changes. Information is now pertinent that didn’t use to be pertinent. Information gets internally connected in a valenced fashion in one’s mind/brain. One of my most important theoretical and practical concerns is to understand accommodation.