Intelligence Augmentation Newsletter 3

Intelligence Augmentation Newsletter 3

Targeted March edition 2020-03-31; Published 2020-04-12 

Welcome to the Intelligence Augmentation Newsletter.

Figure 1 Mindmap of topics included in edition 3 of the intelligence augmentation newsletter


Eat That Frog

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

Well, I haven’t built the interaction that I want quite yet to hear your preferences so in the spirit of Eat That Frog let’s get the bad news over with first.

Covid-19 Pandemic

I hesitated and delayed on whether to discuss Covid-19 because it is on the news 24/7 and people are getting stressed with hearing about it all the time. However, it is the elephant in the room which is hard to ignore. In the big picture more people in human history have died from pandemics than all the wars combined.  I also think in this version there might be some additional things to be highlighted. The health and economic impacts have already been enormous and everyone is wondering how long it could last. We are still learning new things about it almost daily.

Social Distancing

Social distancing is being enforced to “flatten the curve” on the pressure of health care workers and facilities. It is quite extraordinary how quickly we have entered a state pretty equivalent to house arrest to protect society from a health disaster. In Canada the recommendation is 2m separation between people but in my opinion people need to be careful going outdoors in common areas even with separation (and now masks) because the virus survives on surfaces like a park bench for long enough for other people to be infected just by visiting the same spot.

Counter Arguments

Fox new’s first response to Covid-19 was originally – don’t worry about it. It is just the flu and we don’t want to affect the economy. As more people started dying, they changed their message but now there are YouTube videos from “experts” suggesting that the CDC and other health professionals have got it all wrong and that we should let schoolchildren get infected by the virus to develop herd immunity. They are creating a debate on the uncertainty of just what the fatality rate is for Covid-19. In my opinion, while it is important to be open minded about different possibilities which people are speculating about, we need to let the experts debate the theories before believing lone wolf contrarian experts. The Alberta health authority has warned against the “let nature take its course” advocates by pointing out that they may be underestimating the possible fatality rates of all generations infected. Having a methodology for critical thinking regarding what sources to base your decisions on is a foundation for intelligence augmentation. More soon on that topic.


In Canada, health professionals have been repeating that the general population should practice social distancing and do not need masks. It seems that their concern is that there already are shortages of surgical masks for health care workers so they don’t want the general public to be reducing the supply. Recently though expert opinion in the US and elsewhere seems to be changing to recognize that even homemade cloth masks, while not perfect, can help to reduce the spreading of the virus. Ragmasks are an example of how self-made masks can be easily made. It is great to see how resourceful people are becoming at the grass roots level by coming up with simple innovative solutions to make a difference.

Let’s Talk

While being in lockdown has its hardships, and there is real suffering with health and economic issues, we can practice social distancing without socially isolating ourselves. We are using the many communications channels available to us to virtually stay in touch. 

The Best Day of Your Life …

Jim Rohm is a legend in the personal development genre. His legacy includes many books, recordings, and videos of his speeches. One of his speeches that I think is particularly relevant right now is The Best Day of Your Life … Starts By Being Disgusted. We all might be getting disgusted and frustrated at times at the massive unexpected disruption in our lives and we might wish this pandemic never happened. The pandemic has forced us to get back to appreciating the basics of life. The new normal, even after this version of the pandemic is over, will make us stronger with better essential services, online communication enhancements, online education enhancements, and a greater appreciation of how we all need to help each other and are dependent on each other especially in an emergency.


A lot has been said about how we need to use this reset to prepare for the challenges of recovering from the recession. It is important to maintain our sense of purpose by planning, rededicating ourselves to our goals, and Getting Things Done (GTD). I have been a long time devotee to David Allen’s GTD task management methodology. 

This past month I attended a Time Blocking Summit (virtually of course) organized by Francis Wade, a Jamaican I have known for many years. Time blocking involves planning and committing to get things done by scheduling tasks in your calendar. One of the recent advancements is to use Artificial Intelligence to help schedule tasks in the available time slots in your calendar. Since this needs to be under a person’s control it can be considered to be a specialized form of intelligence augmentation.

I have also been experimenting with calendar appointment booking software. Expect to hear more about Booklikeaboss, WordPress booking systems, and the Woven calendar in future installments of the newsletter. Managing time commitments is a critical success factor that can be assisted by intelligence augmentation.


Back in the 1980’s, when I was a COOP engineering and computer science student, I wrote a paper on computer conferencing. It predicted the wonderful new ways we would be able to communicate once Internet capabilities had more bandwidth for computer controlled video conferencing and other high performance features. Now most Internet traffic is video and we are living the dream of not only high performance Internet but also mobile video communications with high quality smartphone video cameras in our pockets.

There are still some “bumps on the information superhighway” as I wrote about on my security blog about how Zoom’s recent boom in growth (2.22 million new subscribers in the first few months of 2020) has exposed Zoom security and privacy issues that have been exploited.

With some security fixes, I am still heavily using Zoom. I have been experimenting with other services as well such as Webinarjam, Dubb, Loom, and multiple iOS apps on my iPhone and iPad. I am particularly excited about a new Video and Audio editing app with artificial intelligence transcription. You can edit the transcript like a word processor and simultaneously it edits the audio and video. This saves a huge amount of time and improves the quality of the audio, video, and transcript.

I am developing an intelligence augmentation course on Developing Confidence with Online Video Communications to not only leverage the new online communication technologies but also support us in improving our human communication skills.


I am listening even more to podcasts and audiobooks and experimenting with audio production lately as a method of intelligence augmentation for more learning. I use the Overcast app on my  iPhone which has some advanced technology for speeding up the audio by removing gaps and avoiding audio distortion. This supports listening more and still having an enjoyable experience. I used to rely too much on reading books which is quite time consuming even in condensed formats. Now I supplement my reading by getting additional information for free from podcasts and videos too. Some examples of podcasts I get a lot of value from:

(Write of Passage is a great course)


Is conversation becoming a lost art? We have more communication channels than ever but I think we are losing our humanity by excessive favoring of indirect mediated communication over direct assertive communication.

Cold Calls

When I first started my career in network communications I had a difficult time with cold calling. At the time I thought the anxiety was due to the inability to control the conversation but I think now it was also the lack of visual feedback from the person I was calling. I tried to deal with the cold calling anxiety by a LOT of preparation but that didn’t go so well. Not just because it was inefficient and impossible to predict all the different ways the conversation could go. 

In my first call to a potential co-worker, when he asked who I was and what I did, I blurted out what I had carefully researched on what he did. He found that confusing and wondered if my objective was to replace him. Embarrassment and backtracking ensued. Thankfully I learned that while cold calling is not my favorite form of communication the principles and skills to do it can be learned to increase effectiveness and reduce anxiety.

10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation

What I wish I knew when I started my career has been summarized by Celeste Headlee in her TEDtalk 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation. It is a funny and worthwhile 12 minute video but just in case you don’t click the link here is a summary of the 10 ways.

1Be present in the momentMultitask
2Assume you have something to learnPontificate
3Use simple open ended W5 questionsAsk complex presumptuous questions
4Go with the other person’s flowDivert to your own thoughts
5Admit what you don’t knowClaim to be an expert
6Find out more about their storyEquate your experience with theirs
7Make your point onceRepeat yourself
8Share what you have in commonInclude too many details
9ListenTalk too much
10Be brief.Ramble on too long.

In Summary: Be interested in other people.

Hawkeye Quote   

“I have this radical idea that I’m not really listening unless I’m willing to be changed by you.” – Alan Alda (Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce on the tv version of MASH)

Courtesy of Dave Howard

Connected but Alone

Sherry Turkle has also written about Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age where she investigates how a flight from conversation undermines our relationships, creativity, and productivity—and why reclaiming face-to-face conversation can help us regain lost ground.

Sherry Turkle’s TED2012 talk about her book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other is an important work to understand how we need to influence technology development to augment our intelligence instead of it being used to exploit our weaknesses. Online, we can fall prey to the illusion of companionship, gathering Twitter and Facebook friends, and confusing tweets and wall posts with authentic communication. This relentless connection is a symptom of our fundamental social nature which throughout human history has been a good thing. Unfortunately the social networks that were developed at the dawn of the Internet tend to create false impressions and comparisons with other’s best PR images of themselves. This leads to a deep solitude despite the volume of messages being exchanged. Research has also shown that many current social networks that are based on an advertising business model can also cause misinformation, distort elections, create silos of misunderstanding and hate,  and cause depression.

I do have hope that the potential of online social networks can still be realized. Currently popular social networks need to be replaced with new types of business models that emphasize learning communities to help people achieve their potential and support each other. It starts with a vision and examples that a better way is possible.

Stillness is the Key

I am a fan of Ryan Holiday’s books, articles, and podcast. His latest book is Stillness is the Key. More than ever, people are overwhelmed. They face obstacles and egos and competition. Stillness Is the Key offers a simple but inspiring antidote to the stress of 24/7 Covid-19 news and social media. The stillness that we all seek is the path to meaning, contentment, and excellence in a world that needs more of it than ever. If you don’t have time to read it there is a fantastic summary of talk notes on the Tim Ferriss podcast: Ryan Holiday – How to Use Stoicism to Choose Alive Time Over Dead Time

Communicate to Connect and Transform

My motto has 2 parts:

  1. Keep Moving Forward (more on this in later newsletters)
  2. Communicate to Connect and Transform

A powerful form of intelligence augmentation is to influence people by connecting with effective communication and listening. The Write of Passage course, for example, promotes a powerful paradigm of taking what some consider a solitary exercise of writing and proposing that it can be more productive if a collaborative approach is used in the age of the Internet. To really learn, develop, and have an impact we need to have a purpose of helping others by consuming, applying/teaching, and improving with feedback.

Figure 2 Publishing Process Through Consuming, Applying, and Improving

Courtesy of Danny Iny at the LIFT conference

Where intelligence augmentation can make the world a better place is initiating change to transform yourself and the people you interact with. Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Alvin Toffler influenced me profoundly.

He was an American writer, futurist, and businessman known for his works discussing modern technologies, including the digital revolution and the communication revolution, with emphasis on their effects on cultures worldwide. He is regarded as one of the world’s outstanding futurists.

In his early works he focused on technology and its impact, which he termed “information overload.” In 1970 his first major book about the future, Future Shock, became a worldwide best-seller and has sold over 6 million copies.

He and his wife Heidi Toffler, who collaborated with him for most of his writings, moved on to examining the reaction to changes in society with another best-selling book, The Third Wave in 1980. In it, he foresaw such technological advances as cloning, personal computers, the Internet, cable television and mobile communication. 

Toffler also coined the term prosumer in his Third Wave book. A prosumer is a person who consumes resources which are the fuel for creating valuable products and services. As shown in Figure 2 the steps in the digital world are consuming (quality) media, applying it to your life and/or someone else’s, and  improving it through feedback.  A prosumer/entrepreneur uses this creative process to produce products and services but also develops, markets, and sells the products and services. It may sound simple but it depends on understanding what the people you are serving want and how to turn it into an Obvious Offer, Resonant Identity, and Intuitive Path. 

Figure 3 Obvious Offer, Resonant Identity, and Intuitive Path

Courtesy of Danny Iny, LIFT Conference

Yet another venn diagram showing elements of success that are all needed to create a future that we will be happy to live in.

In the Queue

Now that I have a new multimedia editor, I am thinking of making use of multiple media to get the intelligence augmentation message out more effectively:

What do you think?

Would you prefer to subscribe to the:

  • Newsletter?
  • Podcast?
  • Video?


I am hoping this could be the start of a long and mutually beneficial relationship. Perhaps it can even grow into your membership in a lifelong learning community of personal and/or business development to thrive in our rapidly evolving brave new world.

I will be publishing updates at least once a month on what I am thinking, seeing, and doing. I would also like to hear back from you so we can establish a dialogue.

Which topics are most useful to you? Which other topics related to intelligence would you prefer?

What suggestions do you have for improvement?

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