My friend, Ralph Greer—a beautiful person; a resplendent mind; a scholar, in the archaic sense of the term; and a perfect gentleman—passed away Friday, March 7 2014, half-way through his hundredth year. Ralph was a man I admired, whose company I enjoyed and from whom I sought to learn.
This is not a formal obituary. I will instead offer some personal reflections on his mind, his personhood, and our friendship. I hope that some of you who did not know Ralph might appreciate this portrait of graceful aging, written by someone who has a research interest in the matter. Continue reading Ralph Greer: Reminiscences about a Gentleman and Reflections on Cognitive Aging
Cognitive Productivity is now marked as 100% complete on Leanpub (as of Thursday, March 6, 2014). This being a Leanpub book, however, I will avail myself of the opportunity to correct errata as they are discovered and to make minor improvements. I also intend to add supporting materials to the book’s Leanpub web page.
Since the last email I sent to readers of this book in early January, I have Continue reading Cognitive Productivity Book Marked Complete on Leanpub
In 1734, Voltaire wrote
Qu’il y a des carrés d’infini, des cubes d’infini, et des infinis d’infinis, dont le pénultième n’est rien par rapport au dernier? Tout cela, qui paraît d’abord l’excès de la déraison, est en effet, l’effort de la finesse et de l’étendue de l’esprit humain, et la méthode de trouver des vérités qui étaient jusqu’alors inconnues.
What a beautiful thought expressed by a mind in reverence of Newton and his invention of differential calculus!
That there should be squares of infinity, cubes of infinity, and infinities of infinities, of which the penultimate is nothing in relation to the last? All of that, which at first seems like an excess of reason gone mad, is in fact, the effort of the perspicuity and extent of the human mind, and the method of finding truths that were until then unknown.
What is equally stunning is just how many forms of representations humanity has invented.
Continue reading Voltaire and the Importance of Concepts and Symbolisms to Understand the Human Mind
In a television program recorded in the 1960’s, Jacques Brel, describing himself as an ordinary guy, spoke about his method for hatching songs. He revealed that he worked as we know he lived, standing up!* Le Grand Jacques even showed us the desk at which he wrote his songs—giving us a glimpse of his small apartment.
Actually, Brel said most of the work for his songs happens away from his desk. The idea of a song “walks around in one’s head for 4, 5 or 6 months”. That’s “incubation” in cognitive psychology lingo. “When, one day, it is very ripe, like a fruit one picks it. And then one writes it.” All very matter of fact.
Continue reading Jacques Brel Wrote as He Lived
David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done (GTD®), provides many useful productivity tips. I use several of them myself. However, it’s not specifically tailored for cognitive productivity.
The last principle of Steven R. Covey’s excellent book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is to “Sharpen the Saw®”. This is a matter of preserving and improving ourselves, including the mental dimension through reading great literature. Covey’s book doesn’t delve very deeply into learning, however. It was written before the web, when cognitive science was much younger.
Continue reading Ten Tips for “Getting Things Learned” with Anki, Skim and Cognitive Productivity
Most sections of Cognitive Productivity have an opening quotation. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed choosing them. I’ve also appreciated the positive feedback I’ve received from readers about them.
Continue reading Opening Quotations: Hermann Hesse Displaces Rudyard Kipling and M. C. Esher
English has the largest lexicon of all languages. It is loaded with terms about affect (emotion, moods, motivation). Western culture has produced a panoply of emotion-conveying art that displays the tremendous power of “folk psychology”. Still, it does not equip us to understand and handle emotion as well as we could and perhaps should.
Continue reading Broad Cognitive Science Deals with Emotion, Motivation and Moods
As always, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the latest episode of Rationally Speaking Podcast. This one was On the Computational Theory of Mind, with guest Gerard O’Brien, philosopher of mind from the University of Adelaide. (Hosts: Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef.) Here are a few comments about this episode.
Continue reading AI, Cognitive Science and Understanding: Comments on RS-95 (Gerard O’Brien and The Computational Theory of Mind)
The Kindle® app is fine for superficial reading. And Amazon® has gradually been improving it… But when you want to delve into a book to solve problems, build knowledge or develop yourself, the Kindle app is very disappointing.
The following critique of the Kindle ebook App (on iOS® and Mac®) indicates how an ebook reader app could help us delve knowledge. Understanding this can help you overcome Kindle’s limitations. It can help you build your reading skills—even if you are already an “expert”. Many of my proposals are derived from cognitive science.
Continue reading What’s Wrong with the Kindle App: A Knowledge Delver’s Perspective
The bulk of Cognitive Productivity is now available for sale on the Leanpub website. I.e., chapters 1 to 14 (345 pages plus references).
I will add a conclusion (Chapter 15), do some more copy editing and other minor planned revisions. I will also continue to update the book based on reader feedback including peer review. (It is a Leanpub book, after all.)
You can think of the Cognitive Productivity book as three books in one: Part I. Problem and opportunities. Part II. The cognitive science of the matter. Part III. Applications.
The conclusion will, amongst other things, point to some unsolved problems, such as:
- Time tracking
- Time analysis
- Managing distracting “motivators”.
None of the published software, science or techniques regarding these problems, to my knowledge, is satisfactory. As it happens, I have been working hard on these problems. I’m eager to publish my new discoveries and solutions—next year. As usual, they involve new cognitive science and new technology. 2014 will be a big year at CogZest…