Cognitive Productivity
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Cognitive Productivity

Using Knowledge to Become Profoundly Effective

About the Book

There's no shortage of general productivity tools and information, such as David Allen's Getting Things Done. They deal with problems faced by the many (e.g., processing inboxes, running errands). However, we also need to be cognitively productive: to efficiently use knowledge in order to solve problems, create excellent products and improve ourselves.

There is no shortage of knowledge from which to learn. In fact, we are bombarded with so much information that some claim we are condemned to "The Shallows" described by Nicolas Carr. That is to be superficial information processors whose brains are (supposedly) being "rewired" by the Internet. To be sure, we've all had this experience: We've read a document that had the potential to make us more effective. But weeks later we can hardly remember the content. Worse, years go by and we have yet to apply the gems of knowledge it contains.

This book, however, rejects intellectual defeatism in favour of cognitive productivity. It is designed to help effective people systematically use knowledge and technology to become ever more effective. It does this by leveraging the most progressive attempt humanity has made to understand the human mind: broad cognitive science.

Cognitive Productivity is written in three parts:

Part 1 describes the process of taking information (as an input) and becoming more effective (as an output.) Your propensity to meet these requirements is one of the most significant contributors to your personal success. With it, you can optimally benefit from knowledge resources (web pages, ebooks, podcasts, videos, lectures, books, PDF files, etc) Part 1 explains why learning with technology is difficult, even for the best and brightest amongst us. Cognitive Productivity is a pro-active response to those challenges.

Part 2 provides powerful new concepts from cognitive science to help you understand the true engine of your own progress: your mind. It sketches how your mind develops as you master knowledge gems—snips of information with which you build your effectiveness. This surprising model of your mind may forever affect how you view yourself and your learning. You may come to see yourself as a "mindware developer" (a developer of your own mind!)

Part 3 contains powerful concepts and practical tips for processing knowledge with software. It will help you evaluate, organize, prioritize and navigate knowledge resources. It will help you analyze and comprehend them. You will learn to identify, extract and master knowledge gems. Part 3 will show you new ways to ensure you apply knowledge gems when they are applicable.

This book conveys a lot of information. (Compare the page count above.) Readers are advised to focus on the parts of the book that matter most to them. Readers who are only concerned with practical information, for example, may choose to read chapter 1, skim chapters 2 and 3, skip Part 2, and delve into Part 3.  

While Cognitive Productivity is based on existing affective cognitive science, it also is an original scientific contribution.

With Cognitive Productivity, you will learn to learn with today's technology while preparing for tomorrow. Add Cognitive Productivity to your mindware development kit.

About the Author

Luc P. Beaudoin
Luc P. Beaudoin

Luc is co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. (which develops cognitive productivity software including mySleepButton), founder of CogZest (cognitive productivity publications and training), and Adjunct Professor of Education at Simon Fraser University (where he researches cognitive productivity). He has a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science (School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham). He was a first-round employee of two of Canada's most highly-valued tech startups. He was Assistant Professor of Military Psychology and Leadership at the Royal Military College of Canada. 

This eclectic combination of R&D experience led Luc to a new mission in 2001: to help effective people use knowledge and technology to become even more effective. To this end, he extends and applies cognitive science.

About the Contributors

Table of Contents

    • List of Figures
    • Preface
    • Acknowledgements
  • I Challenges and opportunities
    • 1. Introduction
      • 1.1 Broad cognitive science
      • 1.2 Updating how we think about knowledge and ourselves
        • 1.2.1 The designer stance
        • 1.2.2 Mindware
        • 1.2.3 Adult mental development
        • 1.2.4 Effectance: motivation for competence
        • 1.2.5 Meta-effectiveness
      • 1.3 Example knowledge resources referenced in this book
        • 1.3.1 Keith Stanovich (2009). What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought
        • 1.3.2 John Gottman: Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and The Relationship Cure
        • 1.3.3 Ries (2011): The Lean Startup
        • 1.3.4 The work of Aaron Sloman and other cognitive scientists
      • 1.4 Three vignettes: Disasters avertable by applying knowledge
        • 1.4.1 Being taken to the trough but choosing not to partake
        • 1.4.2 The applied science of marital failure
        • 1.4.3 Project failures
      • 1.5 The imperative of meta-effectiveness
      • 1.6 Overview of this book
    • 2. Psychological contributors to effectiveness
      • 2.1 Effectiveness: The master objective
      • 2.2 Mastering objective knowledge
        • 2.2.1 Developing implicit understanding
      • 2.3 Developing skills
      • 2.4 Mastering norms
      • 2.5 Developing attitudes
      • 2.6 Developing propensities, habits and other dispositions
      • 2.7 Developing mentally
      • 2.8 Countering cognitive aging
      • 2.9 Becoming more meta-effective
      • 2.10 Back to the top: Excelling
    • 3. Challenges to meta-effectiveness
      • 3.1 Information technology: Lack of support for cognitive productivity
        • 3.1.1 Tools designed for surfing, not delving
        • 3.1.2 Inadequate support for annotation
        • 3.1.3 The need to annotate entire resources
        • 3.1.4 The need for synchronized annotation services
        • 3.1.5 Where’s the productive practice app?
        • 3.1.6 Where’s the glossary manager and instiller?
        • 3.1.7 Drawbacks of smartphones and tablets
        • 3.1.8 Conclusion
      • 3.2 Challenging circumstances
        • 3.2.1 Demands on our time
        • 3.2.2 Sequestered and ill-presented information
        • 3.2.3 Cognitive productivity training
      • 3.3 Psychological challenges
        • 3.3.1 Cognitive science in the realm of knowledge work
        • 3.3.2 Illusions of meta-effectiveness
          • Illusions of helpfulness of information
          • Illusions of comprehension
          • Illusions of (future) recall
          • Illusions of rationality: transfer reframed
        • 3.3.3 Cognitive miserliness and its antagonists
          • Effectance as a propensity to develop competence
          • Perceived self-efficacy
        • 3.3.4 Cognitive aging
        • 3.3.5 Distractibility and the mind’s design
  • II Cognitive science
    • 4. Introduction to Part 2
    • 5. Your mind and its wares (the mind’s design)
      • 5.1 Overview
      • 5.2 Functional characterization
        • 5.2.1 Reactive mechanisms
        • 5.2.2 Internal motivators
        • 5.2.3 Management processes (Deliberative processes)
        • 5.2.4 Motive generators
        • 5.2.5 Meta-management
        • 5.2.6 Interrupt filters and perturbance (tertiary emotions)
        • 5.2.7 Alarm systems and emotions
        • 5.2.8 Long-term memory abilities
        • 5.2.9 (Short-term) working memory
        • 5.2.10 Long-term working memory
      • 5.3 Microcognition: Monitors, parallelism and mental reflexes
    • 6. Adult mental development
      • 6.1 Objective knowledge (World 3), virtual machines (World 2’) and the rest (World 1)
        • 6.1.1 Mindware as World 2’: Virtual machinery
      • 6.2 Understanding understanding
      • 6.3 Developing monitors
      • 6.4 Developing motivators
      • 6.5 Developing long-term working memory
      • 6.6 Developing representational machinery
        • 6.6.1 Growth of component processes
        • 6.6.2 Taking child and adult development seriously
          • Some phenomena that highlight mental representations
          • Representational redescription (RR)
        • 6.6.3 RR in reverse: The problem of instilling mindware
    • 7. Deliberate practice: A source of effectiveness
      • 7.1 Practice enhances factual learning and memory
        • 7.1.1 Practicing slows forgetting
        • 7.1.2 Practicing trumps reviewing
        • 7.1.3 Why practicing works: Explanations of test-enhanced learning
      • 7.2 Developing cognitive skills with practice
        • 7.2.1 Three phases of cognitive skill acquisition
        • 7.2.2 Beyond Ericsson’s theory of expertise
      • 7.3 Reflective practice and deliberate performance
      • 7.4 Enter productive practice
  • III Solutions
    • 8. Introduction to Part 3
    • 9. Learn your way around your R&D
      • 9.1 Learn your way around levels of processing
      • 9.2 Learn your way around your meta-information
        • 9.2.1 Appreciate the meta-access problem
        • 9.2.2 Address the meta-access problem
      • 9.3 Learn your way around your R&D projects and activities
        • 9.3.1 Identify your projects
        • 9.3.2 Classify your R&D tasks
    • 10. Inspect
    • 11. Assess
      • 11.1 About Assessment
      • 11.2 CUPA: Caliber, utility, potency and appeal
      • 11.3 C: Gauge its caliber
        • 11.3.1 Rhetorical and rational compellingness
        • 11.3.2 General epistemic criteria
        • 11.3.3 Assessing explanatory theories
      • 11.4 U: Gauge its usefulness
      • 11.5 P: Gauge its potency
        • 11.5.1 Potency as the potential for mental development
      • 11.6 A: Gauge its appeal and analyze your intuitions
      • 11.7 CUPA: Helpful information
      • 11.8 Other minds: Their recommendations, reviews and commentary
    • 12. Delve
      • 12.1 Effective delving
      • 12.2 Annotation concepts and tools
      • 12.3 Tag entire resources
      • 12.4 Tag snips of text and images
      • 12.5 Write meta-docs
        • 12.5.1 An elaborate meta-doc template
      • 12.6 A template for conceptual understanding
      • 12.7 Quickly create and access meta-docs
      • 12.8 Delve ebooks, audio and other media
        • 12.8.1 Delve audio on the go
        • 12.8.2 Delve e-books
        • 12.8.3 Delve other media on your computer
        • 12.8.4 Productive laziness (cognitive parsimony)
      • 12.9 Computer monitors and other hardware
    • 13. Productive practice: A master maker
      • 13.1 Productive practice in a nutshell
      • 13.2 An example: Learning the motive generator concept
      • 13.3 Co-opt flashcard software
      • 13.4 Capture and instillerize
      • 13.5 Design Instillers
        • 13.5.1 Instiller types and challenge templates
        • 13.5.2 Grow your understanding
        • 13.5.3 Divide and conquer
        • 13.5.4 RD cue mnemonic system: From free recall to cued recall
        • 13.5.5 Instiller design rules
      • 13.6 Practice with these general considerations in mind
        • 13.6.1 Set your practice time
        • 13.6.2 Respond to challenges
        • 13.6.3 Be efficient and effective
    • 14. Practice productively
      • 14.1 Aim for effectiveness with knowledge: Rationality and transfer
      • 14.2 Grow monitors through review and reflection
      • 14.3 Master concepts and vocabulary
        • 14.3.1 Some basic distinctions
        • 14.3.2 Structure concept instillers
        • 14.3.3 Instill mindware about mindware, for example
        • 14.3.4 Develop effective (affective) bid monitors
      • 14.4 Master collections of information
        • 14.4.1 Apply the RD cue system
      • 14.5 Develop propensities to apply rules: Self-regulate with productive practice
        • 14.5.1 Consider the opposite
        • 14.5.2 Andon cord
        • 14.5.3 Avoid harsh startups with your new mindware
      • 14.6 Develop attitudes
  • IV Conclusion
    • 15. Meta-effectiveness framework and clinical psychology
      • 15.1 The pertinence of psychotherapy concepts and methods to meta-effectiveness
      • 15.2 The practical relevance of meta-effectiveness to psychotherapy
      • 15.3 H-CogAff (mental architecture) and ACT as complementary
    • 16. Delve and instill the knowledge of your choice
    • Postscript
  • References
  • Index
  • Notes

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