Hookmark Extends and Accelerates Your Consciousness: In accordance with Merlin Donald’s Theory of Consciousness


CogSci Apps inventions, including Hookmark, are based on cognitive science. Hookmark is partially based on the Multiple Component Convergence theory of Consciousness developed by Canadian cognitive neuroscientist, Merlin Donald (@ Queens University). The basis for this is explained in some detail by me on medium.com

In a nutshell, the ability to rapidly load information into working memory is a halmark of expertise, short-term awareness and long-term awareness, each of which is constitutive of human consciousness. Merlin Donald specifically states that

Most importantly, [his Multiple Component Convergence theory of consciousness] is also a “scaffolding” theory: that is, our basic brain-based systems have been extended by the use of cognitive tools of various kinds, as scaffolding devices, which magnifies the evolutionary distance we have gained on fellow primates, by orders of magnitude. This includes our pragmatic social use (in idea-laundering systems) of other peoples’ memory systems, the tremendous gains in our retrieval options afforded by the invention of languages, and various crucial cognitive technologies including writing and various electronic devices. (personal communication, 2022-12-31)

Hookmark is the quintessential contextual information retrieval. Whether the links it provides have simply been pasted (in your notes, tasks, etc.) or “hooked” (bidirectionally linked) to the current resource, Hookmark enables you to rapidly retrieve information which you can load into your working memory, without the distraction of

  • searching
  • navigating in folders
  • etc.

I am delighted to announce:

  1. that we at CogZest are launching the Productive Consciousness podcast,
  2. Merlin Donald will be our first guest, recording scheduled Dec 5, 2023 !

about Merlin Donald

From Wikipedia:

Merlin Wilfred Donald (born November 17, 1939) is a Canadian psychologist, neuroanthropologist, and cognitive neuroscientist,[1] at Case Western Reserve University. He is noted for the position that evolutionary processes need to be considered in determining how the mind deals with symbolic information and language. In particular, he suggests that explicit, algorithmic processes (the computational theory of mind) may be inadequate to understanding how the mind works.[2]

From Merlin Donald | Department of Psychology:

Merlin Donald is a Emeritus Professor in the Department of Psychology and Faculty of Education, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. A cognitive neuroscientist with a background in philosophy, he is the author of many scientific papers, and two influential books: Origins of the Modern Mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition (Harvard, 1991), and A Mind So Rare: The evolution of human consciousness (Norton, 2001).

His PhD was obtained from McGill in 1968, and subsequently he spent two years at the School of Medicine, Yale University, as an NRC Post-Doctoral Fellow, followed by almost three years at the West Haven Veterans Administration Medical Center as a Research Neuropsychologist. He has been at Queen’s University since 1972. He has also been a visiting professor at University College, London (three times), Harvard, Stanford, the University of California at San Diego, and elsewhere. He has also been a Visitor at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioural Sciences, at Stanford, California. He was awarded a Killam Research Fellowship from 1994 to 1996, and is a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association (1984), and the Royal Society of Canada (1995).

Most of Dr. Donald’s early empirical work was in the field of human cognitive and clinical neuroscience, with a specialization in electrophysiology. During the past 15 years he has returned to the topic that drew him to psychology in the first place: human intellectual and cognitive origins. This work bridges several disciplines in the sciences, social sciences and humanities. His central thesis is that human beings have evolved a completely novel cognitive strategy: brain-culture symbiosis. As a consequence, the human brain cannot realize its design potential unless it is immersed in a distributed communication network, that is, a culture, during its development. The human brain is, quite literally, specifically adapted for functioning in a complex symbolic culture.

Where would these complex communication networks have come from in the first place, if they were largely absent in our ancestors, the Miocene apes? This question was first addressed in his first book, Origins of the Modern Mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition, published by Harvard University Press in 1991. The central thesis of that work was that symbolic thought and language were ultimately products of changes in the primate executive brain, rather than of a specific language “chip.” These changes expanded some basic attentional, metacognitive, and retrieval capacities that were nascent in primates, and highly evolved in hominids. These capacities were crucial in meeting the adaptive challenges of increasing social complexity, with an associated need for very rapid learning and an optimally flexible epigenetic strategy. This idea was further developed in a series of papers and in a book entitled A mind so rare: The evolution of human consciousness (W. W. Norton, April, 2001).

Dr. Donald is currently trying to understand how the slow-moving biology of the brain can deal with the changing cognitive ecology. Humanity is greatly concerned about changes in the physical ecology, but has largely ignored equally massive changes in the cognitive ecology, even though the latter will probably set our future direction as a species.
Stay tuned!