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?
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?
Getting enough high quality sleep is important for cognitive productivity. I’ve developed a technique called the cognitive shuffle. This is a technique that you can use in bed to ease you into sleep. I always try to make it clear that it is not a silver bullet. I recently posted an article on mySleepButton about how it can be used with acceptance and commitment therapy. “Acceptance and commitment” is a “third wave” psychological framework that aims to help people better relate to the content their minds generate. (That framework has some dubious “behavioral” theoretical baggage which you can safely ignore.)
I recently applied for a 2-year SSHRC grant to study some of the problems with which Cognitive Productivity is concerned, such as
- the challenges knowledge workers face (a) in learning with technology and more generally (b) processing knowledge resources with technology;
- the effectiveness of proposed solutions to these challenges.
It is important to study these issues because we depend on knowledge workers to specify and solve humanity’s most critical and complex problems! These people are the “engine” of the knowledge economy.
This is a copy of my review of Nicholas Carr’s book _The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains (Kindle Edi.). I posted the original this morning on GoodReads.com
Nicholas Carr’s book The shallows is an entertaining book that raises flags about the impact that technology is having on our reading habits. He essentially claims that we (more specifically, our brains) are becoming superficial processors of information because of technology. In carefully reading the book, I found that he supported his thesis through insinuation and rhetoric rather than from premises to the clear conclusion you’d expect from the subtitle of his book.
There are plenty of good things to say about this book. However, I will focus on its significant problems so that we can address them.
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.
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.
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.
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.