How to think

Inspired by Ed Boyden \newline Managing brain resources in an age of complexity.

The main aim of this post, is to understand and synthesize some of the ideas behind learning how to think. In the words of Seymour Papert, a rather inspiring Mathematics and Computer Education pioneer, ‘students now need to learning how to learn’

  1. Synthesize new ideas constantly.Never read passively. Annotate, model, think and synthesize whatever you are reading. This extends to intro stuff. That way when you move onto more advanced stuff, you’ve already mastered the prerequisites.
  2. Learn how to learn (rapidly).Eric in his own post makes reference to the fact that this is becoming an essential skill in the 21st century. Be able to rapidly prototype ideas. Create lectures, and models to help you learn material. For technical experitise include two things: Technical Explanation Questions (i.e. explaining a technical concept) and practice at solving problems. Concepts and Technical Skill.
  3. Work backward from your goal.Or else you may not get there. Sometimes it helps to think of your project as being managed by a project management algorithm. The application of PERT or CPM to yourself!
  4. Always have a long-term plan.Even if you change it every day. The act of making the plan alone means your guarranteed to be learning something.
  5. Make Contingency Maps.Draw all the things you need to do on a big piece of paper, and find out what is dependent on other things (this is similar to project management), and what is independent. The things that are not dependent on anything, but have the most dependents, finish them first.
  6. Collaborate.
  7. Make your mistakes quickly.You may meass things up on the first try, but do it fast, and then move on. Analyze what goes wrong in your first attempt at a solution, and this means being honest and explicit. ‘We lose that which we oft might win, by fearing to attempt’.
  8. As you develop skills, write up best-practices protocols.That way, when you return to somehting, you can easily pick up where you left off. Instinctualize conscious control. An important corollary to this best practice, is the art of writing things in a finalized form as soon as possible. Sketches of solutions aren’t as valuable as well worked out, and annotated solutions.
  9. Document everything obsessively.If you don’t record it, it may never have an impact on the world properly. Most profound scientific discoveries are suprises. But if you don’t document and digest everything you see, you will not know when you’ve seen a suprise.
  10. Keep it simple. If something looks hard to engineer it probably is. Simplify the design as much as possible.

In the area of time management a powerful technique is offered by Eric Boyden, he calls it Logarithmic time planning. Far away things planned to the week, things a month away planned to the day, and things a few days away planned to the hour. This blends together the inevitable difficulties in human psychology, and also allows one to be honest about when you are going to do things. A to do list can easily tend to infinity, but your time won’t. \paragraph{} When writing and drawing when talking to someone, which should be used to pass on information. It can be useful to have a camera to take a record of the discussion. Our memories are weak, and then we can also give the page to the other person. A good camera, and Evernote for tagging, can act as an extended brain. In conclusion, it is not enough to be able to use technology, one should be able to use technology tremendously well. References can also be added to the Evernote ideas. For instance if one comes across the name for a good paper or book reference a link to amazon, or the paper itself can be archived with the material.