What’s your favorite way to augment your cognition?

Time: August 20, 2018
Place: Running along Bootjack trail in Mt Tam
Pointer: When a good friend shows up in your podcast queue, you listen
Note type: Inspired

  • Cities
  • Cognition: Tools for thought-- Tools for giving our cognition more leverage. Specific use for leverage: amplify work

Writing as tool.
Beyond communicating ideas across people and time. But also, expands working + long-term memory. Attributes:
  • [Serendipity of interactions over space and time (even with yourself)] Example encountering things wrote before.
  • [Experience + Search.] Maybe don't remember everything but can take notes and search for later. As long as pointer to that idea so can find when necessary.

Ability to hold several states at one time [#problemsolving]
  • Working thru writing helps you work thru thoughts. So helps with working memory. (Cites correlation with ability to solve problems. Because if high working memory can carry a lot of state in your head. Can hold contradictory but potentially correct ideas in head.)
  • Ability to hold current state AND changed states is very useful to evaluate and compare different theories

Writing augments working memory by externalizing it
  • Writing is process of externalizing an idea which allows you to play with it
  • Good analogy: scratch paper. Being able to extenalize that process is very helpful.
  • Externalizing helps to reduce ego when you fiddle with it. Detach self from it much more. So: more rigorous about it. When write it down, if has inconsistencies or glaring gaps-- glares at you right in the face. So easy to gloss over when in your head. Also when you're speaking, can gloss over inconsistencies with emotion. Writing helps logic take over emotion.
  • Makes it physical, so can move around & add changes [a la DynamicLand]
  • [ME] Related to my preference for diagramming, storyboarding. Externalizing is very helpful. But does diagramming have the same rigor? It’s different. But is it interim to writing or complete separate?
  • [ME] I cannot WAIT to externalize ideas / more physically play with ideas WHILE running!! Link printing on air
  • [CONF] Contribute written piece, that can then all discuss. Different methods of thinking.

On constraints as a benefit
  • Big believer that constraints are a good thing in thinking. if completely working in a vacuum, nothing to push off of. No feedback cycles.
  • But when write, can follow trails better. In real time [and over an expanded timeframe]
  • Example: Writing first draft hardest part. Once have first draft much easier to work off of
  • [ME] One of few takes I remember as a kid. Prefer to have the box to figure out how to push at the edges vs an arbitrary expanse. Note: probably not the words I used as a kid but the same sentiment!

Appropriate use of words / names / labels
  • Words come with heavy connotation
  • [ME] Think of examples by D Mindell in Feedback, Control, and Computing before Cybernetics, or E Swallows Richards and her push for the term “euthenics"
  • Devon even uses thesaurus when code! "Coming up with really good names for things is really critical piece of writing good software"
  • "Computer science and programming is basically art of abstractions. Abstractions another way of saying names, mostly"
  • [ME] I like to take this one step further. Names help with abstractions because they name the subsystems that exist underneath. All details can be wrapped in this one tight whole. How you name it must convey that specific meaning. [#HerbSimon]


Clear driver of why do what do

What drives self?
  • Coordination probs
Why? Underlying reason interested in xyz because...
  • Explains lots probs see in world
Concrete examples:
  • Climate change
  • Etc
What are solutions to these probs?
  • Solution is incentive design
Significance / History of
  • Clever solutions to incentive design have allowed us to progress as we have
  • For example: contract law, commodifying risk (eg maritime risk)

For thoughts held close, good explanations of the concept with illustrative examples
  • Instance in short term
  • Instance in long term
  • Bring down to more concrete terms that people can relate to (eg dating)

Extensible to other things / issues / concepts