Talking out loud to oneself is a technology for thinking that allows us to clarify and sharpen our approach to a problem
I ran across this article this evening and some of the ideas resonate strongly with me. The article mentions some areas of psychology research and a few papers I hadn’t seen before.
I’m also particularly interested in the idea of embodied cognition within cognitive psychology. Has anyone delved into these areas in their research or memory-related work? @LynneKelly’s research and written texts encourage singing, dancing and performing (I don’t recall specifically speaking or walking in her contexts, but I’m sure they’re all closely related), but has anyone else experimented with these additional modalities in their practice?
Most of the Western-based mnemotechniques I’m aware of are focused almost solely on internalized speech/thought. Can anyone think of any which aren’t?
I’ve seen several works in which Nassim Nicholas Taleb propounds the benefits of the flaneur lifestyle for improving thought, though his mentions are purely anecdotal as I recall. I’d appreciate any additional references to research in these areas if others are aware.
Like many of us, I talk to myself out loud, though I’m a little unusual in that I often do it in public spaces. Whenever I want to figure out an issue, develop an idea or memorise a text, I turn to this odd work routine. While it’s definitely earned me a reputation in my neighbourhood, it’s also improved my thinking and speaking skills immensely. Speaking out loud is not only a medium of communication, but a technology of thinking: it encourages the formation and processing of thoughts. ❧
I’ve noticed speaking out loud also seems to help me in practicing and acquiring a new language.
Annotated on December 28, 2020 at 09:52PM
The idea that speaking out loud and thinking are closely related isn’t new. It emerged in Ancient Greece and Rome, in the work of such great orators as Marcus Tullius Cicero. But perhaps the most intriguing modern development of the idea appeared in the essay ‘On the Gradual Formation of Thoughts During Speech’ (1805) by the German writer Heinrich von Kleist. ❧
Some of this is at play with the idea of “[rubber ducking](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubber_duck_debugging)” as a means of debugging programs
Annotated on December 28, 2020 at 09:55PM
In both cases – speech and writing – the materiality of language undergoes a transformation (to audible sounds or written signs) which in turn produces a mental shift. ❧
There’s surely a link between this and the idea of thought spaces in the blogosphere or the idea of a commonplace book/digital garden/wiki.
Annotated on December 28, 2020 at 10:06PM
Mute inner speech can appear as an inner dialogue as well, but its truncated form encourages us to create a ‘secret’ abbreviated language and deploy mental shortcuts. By forcing us to articulate ourselves more fully, self-talk summons up the image of an imagined listener or interrogator more vividly. In this way, it allows us to question ourselves more critically by adopting an external perspective on our ideas, and so to consider shortcomings in our arguments – all while using our own speech. ❧
I’m also reading this and wondering about memory techniques and methods and how these may interact beneficially.
Annotated on December 28, 2020 at 10:07PM
It’s no coincidence that we walk when we need to think: evidence shows that movement enhances thinking and learning, and both are activated in the same centre of motor control in the brain. In the influential subfield of cognitive science concerned with ‘embodied’ cognition, one prominent claim is that actions themselves are constitutive of cognitive processes. That is, activities such as playing a musical instrument, writing, speaking or dancing don’t start in the brain and then emanate out to the body as actions; rather, they entail the mind and body working in concert as a creative, integrated whole, unfolding and influencing each other in turn. It’s therefore a significant problem that many of us are trapped in work and study environments that don’t allow us to activate these intuitive cognitive muscles, and indeed often even encourage us to avoid them. ❧
I’m curious if Lynne Kelly or others have looked into these areas of research with their Memory work? She’s definitely posited that singing and dancing as well as creating art helps indigenous cultures in their memory work.
Annotated on December 28, 2020 at 10:10PM
I attempt to do this with my own website(s) leveraging Webmentions for the back-and-forth portions. Twitter is often just a simple notification mechanism for those who don’t have that support yet.
Nothing is what it seems and there's always more than one side to the story as a group of strangers trapped in an inn slowly reveal their secrets in this new standalone mystery set in the world of the bestselling Greenglass House, from a National Book Award nominee and Edgar Award-winning author.
Comes out in 2021.
Fifteen: A Call to Action—Start your Own Digital Commonplace Book Today
Start your own digital commonplace today! There are some platforms mentioned above, but none of them have the flexibility and adaptability that WordPress provides. I’d love to see how others are doing this and what it allows them to create.
Thanks for coming to my presentation!
Feel free to ask questions about any of the notes here on my website or from any of the Tweets. Comments on the Tweets will ping my site (using Brid.gy as mentioned), and I’ll be able to reply directly from my commonplace book. You can also use Webmentions from your website and then our sites/commonplace books can carry on a conversation of ideas.
If you’d like, feel free to explore my commonplace book (or at least the public portions—I post a lot of work privately). You can find today’s presentation and all the other things I collect under the label for the conference at #HeyPresstoConf20.
Did you present today and want to own a copy of your presentation on your own website? Take a look at some notes I made about using ThreadReaderApp to roll up all your tweets and publish them to your site using Micropub, which I mentioned earlier in this presentation.
Fourteen: Networked collection and curation
No longer does a thinker have to collect and curate their own material, they can allow others to help them grow and curate it too!
Thirteen: Backfeeding ideas with Brid.gy
Let’s say I syndicate a thought to Twitter. I can use Bri.gy to backfeed ideas and interactions with my Tweet back to my original in my digital notebook (where it’s most useful). This helps outside ideas filter into and interact with my own ideas.
You knew ideas can have sex, right?!!
Twelve: Webmention for backlinks
For my backlinks I’m relying on the W3C recommendation Webmention spec which I’m implementing with the WordPress Webmention plugin. This allows me to cross link my own posts to look like “comments” or “replies”, but it allows others to ping me and interact with my public posts and their syndicated copies.
Need a primer on what webmentions are and what they can be used for? I’ve got you covered:
Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet
Eleven: Bi-directional links or backlinks
The internet allows multi-directional linking of thoughts and ideas.
Backlinks are the new cause célèbre in the broader learning space that uses the names wiki (a communal shared commonplace), digital gardens (personal wikis), and online notebooks & productivity tools like Zettelkasten and products like Notion, Roam Research, Obsidian, Evernote. These are all just variations of the commonplace in digital settings.
Eight: Data types and Structure
I implement them with Post Kinds Plugin to provide both structure, presentation, and context to most of my notes.
Each post can have its own category and tags for a variety of taxonomic and (most importantly) search purposes.
Seven: Enter WordPress
Why not aggregate all of the data to one central location on a website? This is what I’m doing with my own personal website using WordPress to make my digital commonplace book.
Six: Social Media?
Social media provides a bit of a simulacrum of the sort of networked thinking we might like to have, but you need to have dozens of accounts for different pieces of knowledge and collection and have followerships in all for interaction. Here we’re missing the idea of centralization.
It’s also painfully difficult to search for your data across the multiple information silos which often block search engines.
Five: The Memex
The internet itself could be though of as a massive living and ever-growing commonplace book which can be digitally queried to provide the answers to nearly every conceivable question.
(Some may forget that Bush was the thesis advisor of Claude Shannon, the father of the modern digital age.)
Four: Networked Thinking
Handwritten commonplaces could be a person’s own version of “networked thinking” and mode of creation. So why not take the additional step further and have a digital online commonplace?
The ability to tag, hyperlink, and search sites adds to their general usability in a way that traditional handwritten commonplace books lacked.