Pragmatic Thinking & Learning

Recently I finished reading Pragmatic Thinking & Learning by Andy Hunt, which was a very thought provoking read. It’s published by the Pragmatic Programmers, but that should not put off non-programmers (like myself) as there is much to benefit both technical and non-technical people. In fact the only requirement is to have a human brain.

The first half of the book details how the brain works at a physiological level, models of brain function and the habits that tend to be associated with learning. I found the discussion of differences between L-mode (Linear) and R-mode (Rich) very insightful.

In the second half it discusses different ways you can harness your understanding of L-mode and R-mode to enhance your learning ability. One shocking reference is to a study that reports constantly checking your email has a larger impact on your IQ than smoking a joint. I feel this is related to (what some people call) the fallacy of multi-tasking. I feel that controlled focus on one topic is more powerful than high levels of context switching with its associated overhead.

One suggestion is to have two monitors attached to your computer. I recently moved to a dual head configuration and for certain tasks I have found it really useful. Having one screen for carrying out the tasks and another for reference material is a great assistance. Another suggested tool is using Mind Maps, which I’m trying to get into the habbit of doing, as they do seem to be a powerful tool.

It’s a great book that has plenty of re-read potential and will be a great addition to my reference library.

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