Blogging for Brain Augmentation

My brain is not enough! Too often, thoughts occur to me, or connections become apparent, that I very much wish to remember and use… but then along comes a flood of additional thoughts, and distractions, and minutiae, and so my moments of clarity dissolve into the infohaze.

I hate that.

Blogging can help minimize the loss of precious ideas, if used judiciously. Think of it as a personal knowledge management system“– or a “backup brain.”

I can’t claim this as my own idea. Here are some of the best writings I’ve found on this topic…

First, here’s a quote from James McGee’s weblog McGee’s Musings that I think sums up a skill set that will become increasingly vital as we all get increasingly saturated with information:

“I can’t see how organizations are going to progress with knowledge management unless the individuals in those organizations learn how to unpack what they know. Think back to the heyday of expert systems in the mid 1980s. The show-stopper was not the limitations of the AI technology (although that was an issue). It was the huge challenge in getting experts to figure out what they were expert at and make it accessible.”

Unpacking what you know means being able to move chunks of information from your brain to another storage area where you can easily access and juxtapose them, and share them as desired. “Personal knowledge management” is an ugly buzzword, but I think it’s a great idea for people who are inclined to jot down notes.

The more you know, the harder it is to keep all that information organized, and that’s one way smart people manage to forget very important things, and wind up feeling disorganized and defeated in the process. Believe me, I’ve edited plenty of white papers and articles written by top-notch experts who seem to barely know what they know!


Right now, I’m considering creating my own private blog, that would live only on my computer. This would be where I could store thoughts, questions, and information on everything from relationships to health insurance to guitar strings, in a way that allows me to easily make connections between these disparate items. The best part is that this resource would be keyword-searchable. I’m not talking about a personal journal – I already keep one, on paper. This would indeed be an idea file.

Lovely. I’ll report on this project later.

6 thoughts on Blogging for Brain Augmentation

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  1. I think “blog as brain-booster” tempts only the articulate. But for both them and anyone just seeking documents and emails in the vast (and growing) gigs of local and server-based drives, free-form searchers are very helpful. I use David Gelernter’s Scopeware Vision (, and also like Enfish ( More geeky, and higher-performance – and more expnsive: DTSearch (

  2. Thanks Amy. We didn’t install Movable Type (even though it looks really good) because the license requires payment for commercial use. We don’t have any budget for playing with stuff like this.

    So, we found Nucleus. We’ve only just started playing with it today, but it looks good so far.

  3. Thanks for the compliment!

    I’m considering creating my own private blog, that would live only on my computer.

    This was my initial plan, until I realized that I was going to frequently want info when I was away from my computer and near someone else’s. Putting it online has made it accessible to me from pretty much anywhere I might want it. The fact that other people read it and comment on it is just gravy.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Darren.

    What you describe sounds like a good potential solution — as long as it’s kept fairly fun and informal, and doesn’t become an arduous mandatory reporting mechanism, like filling out a time sheet. (Remember the TPS reports in “Office Space?” Sorry, random pop culture reference there…)

    RE: blogging software — Movable Type is free and versatile, but it’s very geeky. If you’re a software developer you can probably handle it though. (I’m not that much of a techie, I had my husband the geek set it up for me on his server.)

    Movable Type: I already have it set up for CONTENTIOUS, so I’ll probably just use that for my private blog too.

  5. I’ve been toying with this idea for a while. A colleague and I think it would be great if everyone on our software development team kept a fairly simple but up-to-date blog of what they’re working on each day. Then you’d be able to search for people who’ve worked on (or been frustrated by!) specific components, you could find people currently working in the same area of code as yourself, etc.

    Over time, these blogs would describe the evolution of the system, and the programmers’ motivation for seemingly-arbitrary design decisions.

    Managers could use the blogs to track what their people are up to as well.

    Do you have any suggestions for free blogging software? I don’t mind if it runs locally on my (Windows 2000) box and is only accessible from my box, but I’d also like to find something I can install on a server that the whole team could use (this could run on Windows, Unix or Linux).

    What software will you use, Amy?

  6. Blogging for Brain Augmentation
    Amy’s post perfectly sums up the reason I set up my own blog. There is no way to remember everything, and when you do need it, you can’t recall the context, or where to look. Sorting things out in my…