What Can You Learn from the Knowledge of Others?

Who would argue with this: “Learning is good in itself. The quality of performance —in work and personal endeavours — depends largely on prior learning”? Hence we should learn deliberately, and optimally. Now, if we are to devise better ways of learning, would it not help to have some explicit understanding of the different ways in which we can learn, or develop? I think so.

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Postscript to Cognitive Productivity, and Relation to Cal Newport’s Deep Work Book

I’ve updated Cognitive Productivity with a new Postscript section. It includes a link to the equally new online version of the postscript, which I encourage you to read. That web page contains:

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Is This Information Sufficiently Helpful?

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?

Response to “Technology’s Productivity Paradox”, Itself a Review of Forrester®’s A Crisis of Attention: Technology, Productivity, and Flow

This is a response to a Globe & Mail article by Harvey Schachter, “Technology’s productivity paradox”, last updated Monday, Sep. 08 2014, 2:23 PM EDT. That article is itself a response to a recent Forrester® report:

A Crisis Of Attention: Technology, Productivity, And Flow
Using The Science Of Knowledge Work To Restore Flow To The Workplace
(July 14, 2014, by David K. Johnson with Josh Bernoff, Christopher Voce, Elizabeth Ryckewaert, Heather Belanger, Thayer Frechette)

To address the problems that are alluded to in the G&M article and Forrester® abstract, one needs to adequately specify the requirements of cognitive productivity. This is where most solutions fail.

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Review of Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book — 42 years later

This is a review of Mortimer Adler’s w tow to Read a Book that 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.

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An OmniOutliner Meta-doc Template for Taking Notes

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.

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How to Take Notes with Technology: Far Beyond the Cornell Method with Cognitive Productivity

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.

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Nelson Mandela Missed the Time to Think that Prison Provided

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.

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Two Sides of the Same Coin: Pessoa’s Cognitive-Emotional Brain

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.
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Cognitively Potent Software Is Mightier than the Pen in the Hands of Able, Motivated Knowledge Builders: Response to Mueller & Oppenheimer (2014)

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”.[1] 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.

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