This site and newsletter is an experiment - a research journey open to the world that may eventually result in an artefact. I usually say "I'm thinking about writing a book" as a shorthand, but I do wonder if by the time I'm ready, the right thing will be something much more multimedia than words on paper. My hope is that you will not just enjoy reading about the journey, but let me know what you think, whenever some of the ideas strike a chord.
The first motivation for this project is that we live in an age of Artificial Intelligence hype. That hype might turn out to be accurate or it may not (I'll definitely be talking about that as the news rolls in) but either way, this is a moment when the question "So what is it that human thinking is really good for?" has come back into the spotlight. Even without "AI" (mostly machine learning so far) the rise of information technology has repeatedly across my lifetime already changed what we need human brains for. Going on from there, it's natural to me to ask "and so, how might we get better at that?"
Which brings us to a second motivation, I've been lucky enough to attend some great educational institutions, but even there, I noticed that more often than not, the expectation is that people will pick up "how to think" implicitly, as a side effect of the other learning that they do. I've never been sure that is good enough but the rise of "thinking machines" really puts into focus that it's time to address thinking directly.
So what will the project cover as it tries to "think about thinking"? I've labelled the site "Tools, Spaces and Principles for Thought." This is a moment where software tools for thought (as of writing, Roam and Obsidian come to mind) are becoming quite fashionable, but I very much do not want to overemphasise software. One of my key influences is the Creative Problem Solving process (CPS) - a way working which I would also classify as a "tool for thought" but also a set of "principles." There is a wide world of aids to thinking that don't originate in the computer and I want to give them equal time too - some might be called "tools" and some "spaces." One reason to give "spaces" some attention is the concept of the Mind Atelier itself, an attempt to create a mental space for the different kinds of thinking we do.
Finally, there are a lot of people writing about aspects of thinking already. Be it Critical Thinking (more philosophers than you can shake a stick at), Mental Models (famously Shane Parrish at Farnham Street), Neuroscience (many, including Anne-Laure Le Cunff at Ness Labs) or Productivity Tips or Life Goals (more than anyone can count) - how will Mind Atelier be different?
Of course I'll touch on all those topics at times, it wouldn't be complete without them, but for now the aim is to focus on thinking as a process, having a wide range of tools, and putting them together to make a difference.
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