Drawing Diagrams in the Head and with Technology: Benefits, Cognitive Mechanisms, Artificial Intelligence, Apps, and Sleep Onset Dreaming

When they think about note-taking, most people think about textual notes. But it’s also often important to take graphical notes. It’s tricky to develop cognitively productive workflows for note-taking in general, and graphical note taking in particular. An example of the latter point is the following topic on the Mac Power Users forum:
Adding diagrams to Zettelkastens: (Luhmann) Note-taking App that can form a Quick Access Knowledge Base.

This blog post sheds some light on the importance of diagramming from a cognitive science perspective. It discusses problems in understanding mental representations underlying the interpretation and production of diagrams. It explains why people don’t take as many graphical notes as they should, and what they can do about it. And then it goes (or you go) to sleep.

That’s a lot of ground to cover in a brief blog post. However, the post contains links to some extremely interesting articles. If you read the source materials, I’m sure you will find they stretch your imagination.
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macOS Mojave Seems to Have Fixed the PDF Rendering Problems I Described Last Year

Last year, I blogged twice about serious PDF rendering issues in macOS High Sierra (first post, second post). The problems were very significant for knowledge workers (and serious university students), because the highest quality information tends to be distributed in PDF. And if it’s not in PDF format, it often ought to be converted to PDF to be annotated and delved deeply.
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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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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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