On Smarter Than You Think

Writing for companies under my own name is not something I've historically done. That changed last year with some blogs I wrote for the eLynxx Solutions website. While it ultimately promoted the eLynxx software, the first blog was built around a discussion of Smarter Than You Think, a book I count among my recent favorites. The blog was titled "When Cyborgs Buy Print" and I've provided part of it below:


If you need me in your life at around 4pm EST on a Wednesday, your best bet is to dive into #PrintChat on Twitter.  #PrintChat is a weekly discussion about integrated marketing and all things print. Look around and you’ll find me rubbing zeroes and ones with influential members of the online print community.

Towards the end of a recent chat, Deborah Corn of PrintMediaCentr (our host) asked about the books on our summer reading lists. I named a few including a new favorite that has started to seep into how I introduce eLynxx to select print buyers.


Smarter Than You Think is Clive Thompson’s thoughtful consideration of how technology enhances our cognitive abilities and an exploration of the anxieties that emerge with every innovation.

Socrates feared writing would destroy the capacity to memorize information and ruin Greek traditions of debate and dialectic.

Ye Mengde of 10th century China worried that the wider availability of written records made possible by China’s advanced printing technology would weaken memories and cause errors to be repeated without end.

Tools and palaver across 15th century European coffee shop conversations, 19th century novels and periodicals, 20th century telephone calls, and 21st century social media were all supposed to render us into frivolous blockheads and/or anti-social narcissists.

Take a breath. As Thompson documents in each of these instances, our species adapts.

As we adapt, we offload, enhance, and extend memory and cognition to and through our tools. The memory of thoughts and information captured in writing, audio, video, and photos is of significantly greater volume and fidelity than individual human memory.

The external memories captured through our arts are then available to us for deeper analysis, consideration, sharing, and collaboration. We see trends and patterns. We access stories, facts, templates, and instructions. Machines become what Thompson calls “transactive memory buddies”throughout our daily lives.

Our connected tools have increased our capacity to quickly and effectively use external memory while also providing us with new capabilities and opportunities for play.  Through blogging and social media, we engage in public thinking and experience “ambient awareness” of the thoughts, activities, and locations of others. We leverage “multiples.” We google the terms I’ve placed in quotes. Regular people have resources to coordinate unprecedented collaboration for games, problem-solving, art, exegesis, education, advocacy, “sousveillance”, and all types of activities including buying print.

If you are reading this, you are a mythic beast (or a cyborg)


Thompson introduces readers to a new meaning for “centaur” that emerged among chess players who play in concert with specialized chess software. In this context, “centaurs” are people who engage challenges and the world itself as composite beings: part human and part information technology.

Centaurs are common, and if you are reading this, you probably are one. Google is your co-pilot. Your ambient awareness tells you which hoaxes are frightening your Facebook friends and whoever you stalk on Twitter. You hire rides with Uber to get to restaurants you found with Yelp or OpenTable. You got escorted out of the restaurant, but you did it for the Vine.

If you’re one of those special print buyers who for some reason elicits full-frontal geekitude, here is where the book might creep into our conversation. While we’re chatting about your current print procurement process and the eLynxx platform, I might switch out “centaurs” for “cyborgs” and say eLynxx is in the business of helping print buyers become better cyborgs. At that point, either hang up or strap in for the ride we’re going on together.

Read the rest at http://elynxx.com/when-cyborgs-buy-print/