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The Portable Brain

We have at our disposal a portable brain, aka a mobo brain.  Whether you think of it in those terms or not depends a lot on how comfortable you are in first admitting that you don’t know everything.  This is a big step. But lays the groundwork for consulting your mobile device when you need facts, some guidance or simply, a more nimble brain.  We all need a more nimble brain.  But for whatever reason we are caught in the archaic manners of not using our mobile devices.


You are in the middle of a conversation when an obscure subject comes up.  Your curiosity is peaked and you want to contribute in some smart way to the conversation.  But, due to the limitations of your own brain, you draw a complete b lank.  You don’t want to embarrass yourself, or appear to  be more of a dummy than you probably are.  (OK, this has happened to me more often then not.)  Should you keep quiet?  What should you do?


The solution is to consult your mobile device.  The steps that you take are important, since they set the stage for bringing another entity into the discussion.  Much like an uninvited guest, you should proceed cautiously at first.


When an arcane subject comes up and you want to consult your mobile, the main approach is to gently introduce your device into the discussion.

  1. Acknowledge that it is a fascinating topic or an odd one, and that you are not that well-versed in the latest happenings.  For example, you might begin by saying, “Oh, I never realized that frogs could actually be trained to sing Handle’s Messiah?  Do they perform in or out of the water?”  The more curiosity you show initially, the better. After all, the motivation leading up to consulting your device is that you are very curious.
  2. Mention that you remember seeing something about this on the web.  For example, “Yes, now that you mention it, there was something about this on  NPR’s web site.”  Of course, you may not know exactly where you saw it, or if you saw it.  But it greases the skids so to speak.  You may be more general of course, saying, “I remember reading something about it online.”
  3. Then absentmindedly, pull out your device while still keeping eye contact.  Don’t fumble around and don’t be apologetic.  Just let the device naturally appear in front of you.
  4. The transition phrase that works the best, when you are shifting attention from the conversation to the screen of your device is very simple.  Two words:  “Let’s see…”  In other words, as you drop your eyes to the screen and lift up your device, it should a very natural, curious moment.  Like you are scratching your head.  Except in this case you are actually looking up information.
  5. Using your typing skills, quickly enter the phrases and search for additional information on the topic.  Now, this can take some time, but get the search going.
  6. As the device is searching, keep your conversation alive.  Ask questions, or ad lib.
  7. When the device returns with an answer (or several in a list), casually refocus on the screen.  “Ah, now this is interesting, did you know…?”  Let this kind of introduction set the stage for entering the conversation.
  8. You will need to multitask at this point.  Reading and talking.

Your device is capable of remembering the minutia of life, discovering larger principles from a mishmash of facts, citing authorities and much more.  Why not use it when you can.  Remember, the more you sue it in this fashion the better.

Also see Mobo Brain: A Guide to Mobile Brainpower

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