"Every perception is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination."

-- Gerald Edelman, Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge
7 Tools for thought must be developed while doing serious work. The aspiration to canonical content9 Tools for thought must be developed while doing serious work. The aspiration to canonical contentTools for thought must be developed while doing serious work. The aspiration to canonical contentHow can we develop transformative tools for thought?2020-10-18JournalThat said, answering that question wasn't the principal point of creating the essay: making the mnemonic medium was. And for future work on tools for thought, it'd be valuable to push much harder on questions we'd genuinely like to answer ourselves. That's a way of keeping yourself honest, ensuring you're not just building a flashy toy, but something genuinely useful for solving real problems that are of independent interest. In serious mediums, there's a notion of canonical media. By this, we mean instances of the medium that expand its range, and set a new standard widely known amongst creators in that medium. For instance, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and 2001 all expanded the range of film, and inspired later film makers. It's also true in new media. YouTubers like Grant Sanderson have created canonical videos: they expand the range of what people think is possible in the video form. And something like the Feynman Lectures on Physics does it for textbooks. In each case one gets the sense of people deeply committed to what they're doing. In many of his lectures it's obvious that Feynman isn't just educating: he's reporting the results of a lifelong personal obsession with understanding how the world works. It's thrilling, and it expands the form. Continue reading…