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Questions bank and paper book on Supermemo. (1)

June 5, 2009

Short: What is the best way to learn and recall a whole book (1700 pages, small print) + 17,000 questions (another book)  in 350 days, helped by supermemo?


Can it be done? How?

How much is possible to accomplish from this task?

Do you scan and OCR the whole book?

Do you just take traditional notes?

Do you forget about the whole issue?

Is any body reading this?? (ok maybe that’s to much asking).

17 Comments leave one →
  1. LittleFish permalink
    June 6, 2009 05:51

    Hmmm… is the book fiction or non-fiction? Do you want to memorize the book word-for-word, or just understand the “gist” of the book?

    • gersapa permalink*
      June 6, 2009 08:53

      A non fiction book, I don’t to memorize the whole thing, just the important extract, pretty SM philosophy, only thing is the size of required task (I’m thinking probably 5-10 extracts per page, and 33% of all the pages will have extracts).

  2. ramon permalink
    June 6, 2009 12:18

    I would read a chapter/couple of chapters, try to understand it, learn it. Then later (maybe 1 week) come back and see what you have remembered and what not. Enter the things you forgot in Supermemo (plus any important facts/tables/lists). The a month later repeat the process, entering the information you forgot since lastly reading it.

    If you read it and then enter each and every detail in Supermemo you end up with A LOT of material. And you then tend to use it as a learning tool and not a remembering tool.

    The questions from the other books I would either just enter or the same principle as before: just enter the ones you forget and are important.

    I scan books I don’t want to buy or books I want to be able to search. Some books are partly available via Google Book search (eg. for snapshots of tables or pictures).

    I mind map a lot but it’s quite difficult to enter these in Supermemo.

    • gersapa permalink*
      June 6, 2009 22:13

      I believe that entering information as you stated might be a great option. Last year I made questions on several chapters, in a format similar to Cornell’s notes, every page was numbered and each page had numbered questions from 1-20, Supermemo used (or least hoped to) to keep track of each of this questions, but I couldn’t handle the overload of information so ultimately ending postponing a lot of items. So now that I revise this notes, I find a lot of information is not important enough, perhaps is really hard to establish what is important and what you’ll forget, perhaps I’ve been trying to use SuperMemo to learn, but is better to Remember (that I know now). So I’ll take your advice (the interval of the first revision though, I’m not certain at the moment). Have you done a similar approach before?.

      • ramon permalink
        June 7, 2009 06:06

        I’m currently not using Supermemo. I used it for my first year in veterinary medicine by entering pictures of mindmaps and doing cloze deletions on them. But it quickly grew to a lot of items and a lot of work.

        I plan to use another SRS software in a few months and that is the strategy I’ll use. First I study “offline”/without a pc, then when repeating the material and after getting an overview of the whole topic I’m going to enter information to the SRS software.

        During introducing yourself to new material and learning it for the first time you tend not to know what’s important. You then end up by learning a lot of unimportant things. But with every revision you realize more what’s important and, especially, what is important for YOU. Just enter this material. And instead of doing thousands of repetitions make a note that you will take time to read the whole book/material again in a year or so. You will then find a lot of new material that’s interesting and wasn’t when you first learned it.

        I think I’ll also go easy on the one-fact-per-question rule and also enter questions with a broader answer. I then grade myself a good even if I don’t remember every detail but am able to answer it sufficiently.

        At the end your motivation and your time constraints are the limit. I can enter 20’000 questions a year with veterinary knowledge but I just won’t do/can’t handle the repetitions. And most importantly, I don’t WANT to 🙂

      • gersapa permalink*
        June 7, 2009 08:42

        Cloze deletion on mindmaps is something, I’ve tried too in the past, yet find it to much time consuming also. I revise mines only when needed.
        I agree with you in the whole approach for establishing important information from textbooks (my last year paper summaries notebook is the proof of to much unimportant items). As silly, as it can sound, never before I needed to take note of every subtopic or chapter by specific dates. A couple of days ago, I started reading (again) 2001 GTD from David Allen, with a table of contents marked by dates, so far looks very promising (small enough book to test new approaches on “learning a book”).
        I also don’t go with one-fact-per-question rule always. Frequently I have a small paragraph or even a medium sized one and highlight the answers to the question. I find this faster and easier, some answers are later enhanced a bit more.
        For me labeling is a must, specially in professional related information, yet many of my former items lack labels.
        Precisely, the I don’t WANT to part of this problem and very importantly the I don’t think I have the time to, was the reason for posting this question. Very kind of you sharing your approaches to learning.
        What SRS software are you using, or intent to use?

  3. LittleFish permalink
    June 8, 2009 22:40

    This is what I usually do: Read a book and highlight what I find important. A few days later, I go through the book and make five flashcards or so from the highlighted sections. Then do the same thing a couple of days later.

    I notice that knowledge put into Supermemo has had a profound effect on the way that I analyze and reason; this means Supermemo programs me to reason in a certain way; this is either really neat or really scary.

    So this means: If I put in new information at a slow pace, I have time to digest the present information, which will allow me to better understand and remember newer related information. Basically: Go slow, put be persistent. You remember stuff VERY easily when using SM, so by going at a slow pace it allows you to create building blocks of concepts very easily.

    • gersapa permalink*
      June 9, 2009 18:32

      I think this is true. Unless you transform the way you appreciate what is IMPORTANT (to you) in order to include it to any SRS software, you’ll end up with a bloat of undoabillity. Living (or least trying) in a GTD style now, priority to what you input for recall is paramount. I remember back on college, a friend of mine highlighted everything he though important first, then he underlined with a red pen on a second read what he though (then) was important. I was trying to circumvent this double underline, but maybe is the most productive way to do it. You must know what you already read and acknowledge as not important enough to.

      • LittleFish permalink
        June 12, 2009 15:03

        It’s similar to working in a mine looking for gold. If you find something shiny, you take a big chunk of rock away. Then once you get time you refine your search, tossing pebbles, dirt and junk away. Very often I will find something very important in a paragraph of reading material, but it’s hard to pinpoint WHAT. I guess this is what incremental reading is supposed to be (Read over something once, then refine it until you get flashcards).

        • gersapa permalink*
          June 13, 2009 05:20

          Very often College pressure to learn fast (forget fast also) make us forget that is not only important that you input information but rather that you preserve access to the learn information. Here is SuperMemo (and any SRS software) strength. In fact I started searching for knowledge manager on computer starting with Leitner’s “Lernen kartei”. Well, as necessity for grades wins over commitment for long term retention, we (at least many of us) forget to work in this gold mining fashion. Perhaps, I’ve been searching for good algorithm to process knowledge all my life, today I’m pretty much close to some workable system. (Although always in debug mode).

      • LittleFish permalink
        June 12, 2009 15:11

        Also, think of it as a “slightly linear learning experience” rather than a single block of information. Knowledge is not static, established “knowledge” can change as new things are learned, and just a single fact can change your life or your perspective (Depending on how valuable and applicable the knowledge is). Thanks to the internet we have a wealth of knowledge to cross-reference with, giving us a wider and better perspective.

        I try to think of my Supermemo database as an RPG. The higher the number of flashcards, the more EXP I get. I’ve been trying to come up with a reward system for a while; if implemented right it could turn me into an even greater Supermemo machine. Any new learning experience is a new “mission” with exciting rewards (So it can automatically take boring things and make them more exciting)

        • gersapa permalink*
          June 13, 2009 05:24

          Is curious how many strategies are common in SuperMemo fans. I to tried some reward system. Mainly point gained for items learned, and point lost for items forgotten. Then I went into using some time tracker program, and would reward as virtual money for the time invested in the program, and loose money for the time lost in other process. But never occurred to me an RPG. This kind of reward system would be great, as it is entertainment you make learning much better experience. Hope you do find that reward system, and of course I would ask you to share it with us.

        • LittleFish permalink
          June 13, 2009 16:35

          This is a big post, I’m so glad there’s a blog where I can post it and others can benefit from it.

          OK, I’ll break down my current system. It is constantly in the “testing” phase but I think it works great.

          Items that I input not only help me to remember, but they subtly change me as a person (Life principles, quotes, etc.). Assuming I put in useful knowledge, the statement can be made that “Supermemo improves me as a person.” Therefore, the best thing to do would be to add as many items as I can, all the time. But I’ve found that it is hard to simply add 200 items at once; you need to pace yourself, much like eating food.

          So I have a small stack of index cards next to my computer. I counted them, and there are 26. Each card is classified as a certain type of “point.” In this deck of index cards, there are three cards labeled “joke point” cards, five labeled “General Knowledge point” cards, five “Chinese point” cards, three “Japanese point” cards, five “religion point” cards and five “random point” cards.

          Each “point card” corresponds to one Supermemo flashcard (One element). “Joke point” is pretty broad; it means a single joke, witty saying, quote, vocabulary word (Like from UrbanDictionary), more trivial but potentially useful knowledge, etc. “General Knowledge point” is anything that I find on the internet, read in a book, etc. “Chinese” and “Japanese” points are single vocabulary words (Or idioms) for the target language (Since I am relatively fluent in Japanese, I put more Chinese flashcards in). Since I enjoy researching the various religions of the world, “Religion point” means a single fact about religions. The other five “random” are allocated to whatever I want (If I have some extra jokes I want to learn, I can learn those, etc.). So every morning after I do Supermemo (If I get up early, that is), I try to add about 26 new items. If I cannot find something to learn in a category, then I look up information until I find something worth learning. But this usually never happens, because I have a list of items a mile long that I have to read and input.

          If there were stages to my SM flashcards, it would be
          STAGE 1: Raw information
          STAGE 2: Stuff I want to remember
          STAGE 3: Stuff formatted and ready to be remembered (Q and A)
          STAGE 4: Flashcard! Yay!

          The problem is between Stages 2 and 3; I know what I WANT to remember, but I need to actually go through steps to PREPARE it to be remembered.

          By forcing myself to learn 26 or so items a day, it has made it easier to take all of that stuff that I think “I wish I remembered that,” and forces me to decide if it is worth remembering or not. If so, LEARN IT!

          When I stopped using this card system (For a couple of weeks), I lost a great deal of motivation, and I didn’t enter in many new items. But when I started using this system again, the number of items began to rise sharply (26 is a lot of items, especially if you enter them in every day). For my autodidacttic lifestyle, this works very well.

          *It gets MUCH more experimental from this point on*

          Because I have used Supermemo for three years, I can see that it is something I will continue to do for my entire life unless something really bad happens (Death, collapse of modern infrastructure, etc.). Therefore, my next goal is to broaden the implimentation of Supermemo in my life. Right now I have a point reward system that seems to be working, but I’ve only been working on it for the past several days.

          Right now I have 27,843 flashcards. Once I hit 28,000 flashcards, I will reward myself somehow (Buy a game, go see a movie, etc.). But right now I’m trying to create micro-goals to incentivise positive behavior, using Supermemo as the core. Here is my present micro-reward system:

          Flashcard/element = positive character development (Principle of using Supermemo)
          4 points = 1 flashcard/element
          Points are rewarded throughout the day for various activities.

          For example, before I go to work I could choose to pack my lunch or buy my lunch later in the day. Packing requires extra time, which sometimes I don’t want to use early in the morning (I’d rather sleep or use Supermemo). Buying my lunch costs lots of money (Compared to packing), and usually I end up eating fast food, which is horrible for my health. Even though the benefits are obvious, for some reason I sometimes do not pack my lunch. I WANT to change my actions, but sometimes the incentive provided is just not enough. This is where the point system comes in: I reward myself for doing things that I would not usually want to do. I keep a record of my points in a pocket-sized notebook, index card (Hipster PDA), or whatever paper I have on me at the time. The more points I earn, the more stuff I learn. Everything I do can be potential EXP (EXperience Points).

          I might not want to arrive somewhere 10 minutes early, but if I get three points for it, I’d do it (I can even read with that extra time, learning new information I want to spend those points on). I might not want to clean up the house right now, but for 6 points, you’ve got a deal! This can also potentially be done for long-term projects, similar to “quests” in RPGs such as World of Warcraft. When I complete “project x,” I will get 40 points! (Think of all of the cool extra stuff I could learn with 40 points!)

          This of course requires a greater degree of self-discipline, but by using Supermemo as a springboard, I can establish positive habits; eventually points are no longer the motivation, I simply do something because “that’s what I do.”

          This is sort of a system that has emerged over the past month, but this is my first attempt to implement it. Again, this aspect is much more experimental and thus is much more likely to fail. But if it works, I’ll be a much better person (I think)… I don’t know, what do you think?

        • gersapa permalink*
          June 14, 2009 10:39

          Although many people would probably find this approach a bit cumbersome, I think once you implemented on your life. I’ll change the way you feel about improving your self. I find you are not only interested in learning more of factual information, but on enhancing your overall sense as a person. I remember reading about J.Locke on the ideas he had about parenting, and he acknowledge building a lot of characteristics on our personal development.

          The reward system is interesting, although I’m not very familiar with RPGs, a equivalent system might help me out. I’ll put this approach in my “GTD.pending list”.

          26 items is very good one you are consistent, I once when up to 85 per day, but many months of postponing and a nonstop increasing forgetting index prove me wrong. That’s why I keep searching: how to know what’s truly important when inputting information in to my favorite SRSs.

        • Nathan permalink
          June 14, 2009 11:29

          It all has to do with what your goals in life are. I have no pressing career that requires me to learn a lot of stuff lest I fail (I’m not going to medical school or anything), I am simply learning for the fun and benefit of it. I am constantly trying to find better, more efficient and fun ways of doing things. This system is another one of those blips on my radar that might become something big.

          Come to think of it, that is how Supermemo started; I followed a blip of curiosity, and now I’m here.

        • LittleFish permalink
          June 14, 2009 19:45

          That was me (Just a different name)


  1. PDF Studying for non Incremental Reading suitable material. « The SuperMemo Blog

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