It’s reminiscent of the system 1 (fast) and system2 (slow) ideas behind Kahneman and Tversky’s work in behavioral economics. (See Thinking, Fast and Slow)
It’s also interesting in light of this tweet which came up recently:
I very much miss the back and forth with blog posts responding to blog posts, a slow moving argument where we had time to think.
— Rachel Andrew (@rachelandrew) August 22, 2017
Because the Tweet was shared out of context several years later, someone (accidentally?) replied to it as if it were contemporaneous. When called out for not watching the date of the post, their reply was “you do slow web your way…”#
This gets one thinking. Perhaps it would help more people’s contextual thinking if more sites specifically labeled their posts as fast and slow (or gave a 1-10 rating)? Sometimes the length of a response is an indicator of the thought put into it, thought not always as there’s also the oft-quoted aphorism: “If I Had More Time, I Would Have Written a Shorter Letter”.
The ease of use of the UI on Twitter seems to broadly make it a platform for “fast” posting which can too often cause ruffled feathers, sour feelings, anger, and poor communication.
What if there were posting UIs (or micropub clients) that would hold onto your responses for a few hours, days, or even a week and then remind you about them after that time had past to see if they were still worth posting? This is a feature based on Abraham Lincoln’s idea of a “hot letter” or angry letter, which he advised people to write often, but never send.
Where is the social media service for hot posts that save all your vituperation, but don’t show them to anyone? Or which maybe posts them anonymously?
The opposite of some of this are the partially baked or even fully thought out posts that one hears about anecdotally, but which the authors say they felt weren’t finish and thus didn’t publish them. Wouldn’t it be better to hit publish on these than those nasty quick replies? How can we create better UI to solve for this?
I saw a sitcom a few years ago where a girl admonished her friend (an oblivious boy) for liking really old Instagram posts of a girl he was interested in. She said that deep-liking old photos was an obvious and overt sign of flirting.
If this is the case then there’s obviously a social standard of sorts for this, so why not hold your tongue in the meanwhile, and come up with something more thought out to send your digital love to someone instead of providing a (knee-)jerk reaction?
Of course now I can’t help but think of the annotations I’ve been making in my copy of Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things. Do you suppose that Lucretius knows I’m in love?
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
Examine the paradoxical life of Augustine: Who was he? Why is he such an important historical figure? You'll be surprised that much of what we may associate with him, such as his metaphysical dualism and his antidemocratic adherence to Church law, is mistaken. Here, you'll uncover the real Augustine-and find a man not so unlike ourselves.
There’s some interesting subtext of the ideas of the “stream and the garden” here in thinking about Augustine in his own time versus what has crystalized for us now in the present.
The Process forces us to think critically, categorize ideas, relate them to similar ideas, come up with metaphors/analogies/stories to better convey those ideas. The Process improves Thinking.
A new way of understanding climate change and other phenomena.
We are obliged to do something about them, because we can think them. ❧
Annotated on January 15, 2020 at 08:56AM
It’s very difficult to talk about something you cannot see or touch, yet we are obliged to do so, since global warming affects us all. ❧
It’s also difficult to interact with those things when we’re missing the words and vocabulary to talk about them intelligently.
Annotated on January 15, 2020 at 09:00AM
Timothy Morton is Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University in Houston. He is the author of Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality and Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End Of The World. ❧
want to read these
Annotated on January 15, 2020 at 10:10AM
Or global warming. I can’t see or touch it. What I can see and touch are these raindrops, this snow, that sunburn patch on the back of my neck. I can touch the weather. But I can’t touch climate. So someone can declare: “See! It snowed in Boise, Idaho, this week. That means there’s no global warming!” We can’t directly see global warming, because it’s not only really widespread and really really long-lasting (100,000 years); it’s also super high-dimensional. It’s not just 3-D. It’s an incredibly complex entity that you have to map in what they call a high-dimensional- phase space: a space that plots all the states of a system. In so doing, we are only following the strictures of modern science, laid down by David Hume and underwritten by Immanuel Kant. Science can’t directly point to causes and effects: That would be metaphysical, equivalent to religious dogma. It can only see correlations in data. This is because, argues Kant, there is a gap between what a thing is and how it appears (its “phenomena”) that can’t be reduced, no matter how hard we try. We can’t locate this gap anywhere on or inside a thing. It’s a transcendental gap. Hyperobjects force us to confront this truth of modern science and philosophy. ❧
A short, and very cogent argument here.
Annotated on January 15, 2020 at 10:07AM
Speed is all the rage these days. Move fast and break things, iterate fast, fail fast and learn from your mistakes fast and pivot fast so you can do it all over again. We scorn bloated governments and dinosaur bureacracies and praise lean...
Yesterday, I wrapped up the revisions on Generous Thinking, and I’m finding myself of very mixed minds about where I am today. On the one hand, I am super excited about getting the manuscript into …
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
And probably letting myself do a bit more thinking-out-loud here. ❧
“Ego nullam dolore.” translated back into English is “I have no pain.”
Similar to several other mantras I’ve seen recently by various bloggers. Most of them have essentially said that they write to test out ideas, to stretch their thinking, to try to find additional clarity in what they’re contemplating. This takes a slightly different tack, but is roughly the same thesis.
In "The Secret History of Thoughts," co-hosts Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller ask the question, "Are my thoughts related to my inner wishes, do they reveal who I really am?" The answer can have profound consequences for your life. Hear the story of a man gripped by violent thoughts, and explore how various psychologists make sense of his experience. Also, meet a man trapped inside his head for 13 years with thoughts as his only companion.
I had been hearing commercials for this off and on from other podcasts for almost a year; glad I finally downloaded to listen.
“Hi, my name is Chris, and I’m a Read-aholic.”
‘ll be the first to admit that I’m a reading junkie, but unfortunately there isn’t (yet) a 12 step program to help me. I love reading lots of different types of things across an array of platforms (books, newspapers, magazines, computer, web, phone, tablet, apps) and topics (fiction/non-fiction and especially history, biography, economics, popular science, etc.). My biggest problem and one others surely face is time.
There are so many things I want to read, and far too little time to do it in. Over the past several years, I’ve spent an almost unreasonable amount of time thinking about what I consume and (possibly more importantly) how to intelligently consume more of it. I’ve spent so much time delving into it that I’ve befriended a professor and fellow renaissance man (literally and figuratively) who gave me a personal thank you in his opening to a best-selling book entitled “The Thinking Life: How to Thrive in an Age of Distraction.”
At least twice a year I look at my reading consumption and work on how to improve it, all the while trying to maintain a level of quality and usefulness in what I’m consuming and why I’m consuming it.
- I continually subscribe to new and interesting sources.
- I close off subscriptions to old sources that I find uninteresting, repetitive (goodbye echo chamber), and those that are (or become) generally useless.
- I carefully monitor the huge volumes of junk email that end up in my inbox and trim down on the useless material that I never seem to read, so that I’ll have more time to focus on what is important.
- I’ve taken up listening to audiobooks to better utilize my time in the car while commuting.
- I’ve generally quit reading large swaths of social media for their general inability to uncover truly interesting sources.
- I’ve used some portions of social media to find other interesting people collating and curating areas I find interesting, but which I don’t have the time to read through everything myself. Why waste my time reading hundreds of articles, when I can rely on a small handful of people to read them and filter out the best of the best for myself? Twitter lists in particular are an awesome thing.
- I’ve given up on things like “listicles” or stories from internet click farm sources like BuzzFeed which can have some truly excellent linkbait-type headlines, but I always felt like I’ve completely wasted my time clicking through to them.
A New Solution
About six months ago in the mountain of tech journalism I love reading, I ran across a site launch notice about a tech start-up called Spritz which promised a radically different solution for the other side of the coin relating to my reading problem: speeding the entire process up! Unfortunately, despite a few intriguing samples at the time (and some great details on the problem and their solution), they weren’t actually delivering a product.
Well, all that seems to have changed in the past few weeks. I’ve waited somewhat patiently and occasionally checked back on their progress, but following a recent mention on Charlie Rose, and some serious digging around on the broader internet, I’ve found some worthwhile tools that have sprouted out of their efforts. Most importantly, Spritz itself now has a bookmarklet that seems to deliver on their promise of improving my reading speeds for online content. With the bookmarklet installed, one can go to almost any web article, click on the bookmarklet and then sit back and just read at almost any desired speed. Their technology uses a modified version of the 1970’s technology known as Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) to speed up your reading ability, but does so in a way that is easier to effectuate with web and mobile technologies. Essentially they present words serially in the same position on your screen with an optimized center mass so that one’s eyes stay still while reading instead of doing the typical saccaddic eye movements which occur with typical reading – and slow the process down.
As a biomedical engineer, I feel compelled to note the interesting physiologic phenomenon that if one sits in a rotatable chair and spins with one’s eyes closed and their fingers lightly placed on their eyelids, one will feel the eye’s saccades even though one isn’t actually seeing anything.
Spritz also allows one to create an account and log in so that the service will remember your previously set reading speed. Their website does such a great job of explaining their concept, I’ll leave it to the reader to take a peek; but you may want to visit their bookmarklet page directly, as their own website didn’t seem to have a link to it initially.
As a sample of how Spritz works on the web, OysterBooks is hosting a Spritz-able version of Stephen R. Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Naturally, Spritz’s solution is not a catch-all for everything I’d like to read, but it covers an interesting subcategory that will make things useful and easier. Though trying to speed read journal articles, textbooks, and other technical literature isn’t the best idea in the world, Spritz will help me plow through more fiction and more leisurely types of magazine and online articles that are of general interest. I generally enjoy and appreciate these types of journalism and work, but just can’t always justify taking the time away from more academic pursuits to delve into them. Some will still require some further thought after-the-fact to really get their full value out of them, but at least I can cover the additional ground without wasting all the additional time to do so. I find I can easily double or triple my usual reading speed without any real loss of comprehension.
In the last week or so since installing a my several new speed reading bookmarklets, I’ve begun using them almost religiously in my daily reading regimen.
I’ll also note in passing that some studies suggest that this type of reading modality has helped those who face difficulties with dyslexia.
Speed Reading Competition
Naturally, since this is a great idea, there’s a bit of competition in the speed reading arena.
There are a small handful of web and app technologies which are built upon the RSVP concept:
- Clayton Morris has also developed an iOS application called ReadQuick, which is based on the same concept as Spritz, but is only available via app and not on web.
- Rich Jones has developed a program called OpenSpritz. His version is opensource and has an Android port for mobile.
- There’s also another similar bookmarklet called Squirt which also incorporates some nice UI tweaks and some of the technology from Readability as well.
- For those wishing to Spritz .pdf or .txt documents, one can upload them using Readsy which uses Spritz’s open API to allow these types of functionalities.
- There are also a variety of similar free apps in the Google Play store which follow the RSVP technology model.
- Those on the Amazon (or Kindle Fire/Android Platform) will appreciate the Balto App which utilizes RSVP and is not only one of the more fully functional apps in the space, but it also has the ability to unpack Kindle formatted books (i.e. deal with Amazon’s DRM) to allow speed reading Kindle books. While there is a free version, the $1.99 paid version is more than well worth the price for the additional perks.
On and off for the past couple of years, I’ve also used a web service and app called Readfa.st which is a somewhat useful, but generally painful way to improve one’s speed reading. It also has a handy bookmarklet, but just wasn’t as useful as I had always hoped it might be. It’s interesting, but not as interesting or as useful as Spritz (and other RSVP technology) in my opinion since it feels more fatiguing to read in this manner
Bookmarklet Junkie Addendum
In addition to the handful of speed reading bookmarklets I’ve mentioned above, I’ve got over 50 bookmarklets in a folder on my web browser toolbar. I easily use about a dozen on a daily basis. Bookmarklets make my internet world much prettier, nicer, and cleaner with a range of simple clever code. Many are for URL shortening, sharing content to a variety of social networks quickly, but a large number of the ones I use are for reading-related tasks which I feel compelled to include here: web clippers for Evernote and OneNote, Evernote’s Clearly, , Instapaper, Pocket, Mendeley (for reading journal articles), and GoodReads.
Do you have a favorite speed reading application (or bookmarklet)?
While some might categorize this as a “self-help” or “business” book, it’s really a broader reaching thesis which is perfect for almost any reader. It’s both a descriptive as well as prescriptive manual for the human thinking machine. Similar to his previous two excellent must-read books on civility (Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct and The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude), this is a well-written, clear, and concise text whose aim is the noble goal of improving all of our lives.
In the vein of excellent recent books like William Powell’s Hamlet’s BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and others, Dr. Forni covers the ground of how to best deal with the current “age of distraction” in which we live. Even better, however, he makes many of these books obsolete as he uses his phenomenal depth of knowledge of everything from the Greek and Roman schools of thought to Benjamin Franklin and George Washington and then through to Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich) and Dale Carnegie (How To Win Friends and Influence People and How to Stop Worrying and Start Living)and beyond to provide simple and useful examples of how to be a better and clearer thinker and to elucidate how that will make your life a happier one.
Fans of “Getting Things Done” (GTD) will appreciate some of the underlying philosophy, but will love how it extends those concepts to create a truer sense of happiness in their daily lives.
When I initially approached the book–as an avowed addict of the fast-paced flow of information from both the internet and television–I was daunted at the mere ideas that the book portended. But again Dr. Forni breaks the proverbial mountain into a practical mole-hill. He divides things into simple and understandable chunks, but also provides the necessary motivation along with simple examples of how to carry out this wonderful philosophy. In the short time since I’ve read the book, I’ve been able to more easily put down my “crack-berry” smart-phone and focus more on what I’m doing and getting the best out of life.
Fans of his previous work who have “chosen civility”, will also appreciate how he ties in the concepts of civility and further extends them to the concept of thoughtfulness. The same way he broke down the concept of being civil and created simple, executable ways of changing your daily behavior, he does so with thinking while simultaneously removing the implied modern-day stigma of being a “thinking” person.
In short, this is the book that I wish I had been given before I started high school or even before I started college. I’ll desperately miss all the time I’ve had without this book, but I’ll definitely be living a better life now that it’s here. One thing is certain: everyone I care about will be getting a copy for the holidays this year!
- Started reading on 09/12/11
- Finished reading on 10/01/11