This is a review of Mortimer Adler’s book, How to Read a Book, which I posted this morning on GoodReads.com
I have delved into Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book several times since the 1980’s. The book addresses major problems all readers face. Even if one doesn’t adopt the strategies it proposes, it’s useful to think about these problems.
Continue reading Review of Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book — 42 years later
In my previous blog post, I introduced the challenges we face in taking notes with technology.
Today, I have added to Cognitive Productivity: Using Knowledge to Become Profoundly Effective a free OmniOutliner “meta-doc template” for taking notes about information that really matters to you. It may be a particularly high quality e-book, a potent TED talk, a very important lecture, an appealing podcast, or something else. If you don’t take notes about the content, then you have to rely on your memory. And we know that memories fade! If you do take notes about the content, you might as well take them in a systematic way such that you can easily find the information later when you need it.
Continue reading An OmniOutliner Meta-doc Template for Taking Notes
There are several good reasons to take notes about information you process. Most people don’t, because they lack note taking systems or the motivation to use them. Technology has made note taking both easier and harder. Easier, because one now has more tools than ever to take , organize and find notes. Harder, because there is now what seems to many to be an unmanageably large amount of information to take notes about.
Moreover, none of the tools are entirely satisfactory in themselves. For example, note taking apps such as Evernote® and Microsoft® OneNote® have major drawbacks, such as locking your information in an opaque, proprietary database (remember Lotus Notes?) whose contents cannot be accessed using standard file management utilities. To use Sharon Bratt’s expression, they have low “pedagogical utility” —despite their appeal for certain problems, they are the opposite of what you need to stretch your mind when “delving” potent content.
Continue reading How to Take Notes with Technology: Far Beyond the Cornell Method with Cognitive Productivity
If you love visual art and are around Metro-Vancouver this month, then consider attending the exhibition of Lam Wong’s paintings on “Relation, perception and meaning”. It runs from Sept 2 to Sept 27 at the Arts Council Gallery of New Westminster in Queen’s Park (closed Mondays).
You can tell from the title of this exhibition that Lam Wong’s interests overlap with those of cognitive scientists.
Continue reading Exhibition of Lam Wong’s Paintings on Relation, Perception and Meaning (Sept. 2- 27, 2014, New Westminster)
Today, I added an opening quotation to a chapter in Cognitive Productivity that deals with challenges knowledge workers face in their quest to use knowledge to become profoundly effective. <1> The section in question deals with demands on our time. A distinctive feature of humans is the amount and kinds of mental processing that can take place between stimulus (information) and response. But how can we produce great cognitive products if we don’t sufficiently exploit our own mental abilities? This means we need to disconnect ourselves from the Internet firehose several times a week and create quiet time for ourselves… time to integrate what we have read, select problems of understanding to address, and provide solutions to them in the form of knowledge that will guide subsequent action.
Continue reading Nelson Mandela Missed the Time to Think that Prison Provided
Luiz Pessoa Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland has recently published The Cognitive-Emotional Brain: From Interactions to Integration a book that lends neuroscientific support to one of the major tenets of CogZest and Cognitive Productivity. I haven’t read the book yet; but I’ve heard Pessoa interviewed by Ginger Campbell on one of my favourite podcasts, the Brain Science Podcast. In this compelling episode, which I highly recommend, they focus mainly on the amygdala and a region of the thalamus, debunking several myths while conveying very deep ideas about the brain, not the least of which is the importance of embracing complexity.
Continue reading Two Sides of the Same Coin: Pessoa’s Cognitive-Emotional Brain
Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer recently published a peer reviewed article in Psychological Science provocatively titled “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking”. Their claim would herald a significant discovery if it were true. For there are many important reasons to believe using a laptop, at least in certain ways, can increase cognitive productivity: Delving, assessing, comprehending, understanding, knowledge building, retention, learning, mastery and even mental development (deep learning). We need not retreat to the to lab refute their titular conclusion. This post, I believe, does the trick.
Continue reading Cognitively Potent Software Is Mightier than the Pen in the Hands of Able, Motivated Knowledge Builders: Response to Mueller & Oppenheimer (2014)
This one is dedicated to my dad for father’s day.
This being Father’s Day and me being well into my 40’s, the time is right to develop a conjecture about some of the influences my father has had on me. I’ve put this in conjectural terms because there is no way to tease out with any certainty the various causes of one’s current state: genetics (too oft underestimated), parents, siblings, the media, society, teachers, role models, friends, and ultimately our own selves. Furthermore, our own state is largely also conjectural — a “self-concept”.
Continue reading Things I Learned From My Dad — Reflections and Gratitude on Father’s Day
While differing widely in the little bits we know, or rather guess, in our infinite ignorance we are all equal. (Karl Popper).
Tom Monahan (Chairman and CEO at CEB) published an interesting article on LinkedIn yesterday: “If I Were 22: Embrace Your Ignorance”. He admitted that he graduated from Harvard feeling that he was “master of not only my own nascent trade, but pretty much anything else under the sun”. I.e., overconfident about his knowledge and abilities. Looking back, he would embrace his own ignorance, be a curator of good questions, and ask questions of more people. Good advice!
Continue reading Response to Tom Monahan’s “If I Were 22: Embrace Your Ignorance”