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Computer Tool That’s Like Your Own Mind Scanner

Now there’s a computer tool that’s like taking a tour through your own mind, and suddenly all those little bits and pieces of information you are storing away in your computer or blog will all come back some day to make you seem down right erudite.

Steven Johnson explains it all in his essay Tool For Thought in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review.

He has been using a tool called DEVONthink which helps him intuitively search his own files. He writes in part:

No doubt some will say that these tools remind them of the way they use Google already, and the comparison is apt. (One of the new applications that came out last year was Google Desktop — using the search engine’s tools to filter through your personal files.) But there’s a fundamental difference between searching a universe of documents created by strangers and searching your own personal library. When you’re freewheeling through ideas that you yourself have collated — particularly when you’d long ago forgotten about them — there’s something about the experience that seems uncannily like freewheeling through the corridors of your own memory. It feels like thinking.

Johnson is a great original thinker. In the essay he gives you an overview of how he uses these new tools to help develop ideas, and then at his website he shows you the process with illustrations.

Of course, these tools work best when you have lots of your own ideas and those of others stored on your computer or on your blog. In other words, ideas that might have been ephemeral in the past or things written and long forgotten can now all come streaming back into your consciousness as you build new ideas.

The upshot: Keep writing and blogging it’s all going to make you a lot smarter tomorrow, next week, next year and maybe even in the decades to come.

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