Welcome to Tools For Thought?

What is Tools For Thought?

What

This is a forum to discuss tools and methods to support thinking and learning. It is a place to explore all aspects of knowledge work.

Why

There are numerous communities across the Web that focus on tools, methods or workflows for thinking and learning. The excellent and insightful conversations from these places, however, take place in isolation. Often they do not cross paths despite the substantial overlap in core ideas. The goal of this forum is to create a space where all these conversations can take place in one place.

Notably, this forum is intentionally not about any one particular tool, method or workflow. All tools and methods can be and should discussed here, with the hope that the ideas and best practices will intermix and lead to new and fruitful directions around knowledge work.

The Name

The name of this forum was inspired by an essay from Andy Matuschak and Michael Nieslen: How can we develop transformative tools for thought? As I later found out, this phrase was also popularized by Howard Rheingold’s 1985 book Tools for Thought: The History and Future of Mind-Expanding Technology. Although a little cumbersome to say, it captures well the focus of this site.

Why Now?

The challenges of knowledge work are not new. People have been trying to deal with recording, remembering and recombining knowledge probably since the dawn of humanity. As the volume of knowledge enlarges and as more people move into knowledge work in the 21st century, the need to find better methods and tools has become greatly felt. Until only a few decades ago, the primary tool of any kind of knowledge worker was paper and pen. But now with digital tools, we have more options than ever before. Within the last 5 years especially, there has been an emergence of exciting new tools and also greater public discussion of the challenges of knowledge work. As one commenter put it, the current “Zeitgest” has brought the topic of knowledge management and tools for thought to the forefront. This forum aims to be a hub to contribute to the zeitgeist and to catalyze new discussions and directions.

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