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SuperMemo fan goes Incremental Reading

August 7, 2009

I’ve done a lot less blogging lately (yeah right… like I ever did much).  My life is coming more and more entrenched by the existence of my external hypocampus. From the scientific point of view this structure makes it possible to form long term memories.  From a singularity point of view my external hypocampus (e.a. Supermemo) is become more important in life. Not that kind of importance that you live up to ways supermemo author says about giving up conventional life, but as an enhancement to no worrying anymore about my learning going into one ear (or both eyes) and not even reaching my cortex.

I’ve though Incremental Reading would be a great way to enhance my learning, but in order to get deeper in this practice I needed to know if I wasn’t the only one searching for this Holy Grail of acquiring vast amount of info. Fellow Supermemoer Nattan has done the job of going to the process of using Incremental reading and then telling how does it feel to take it from ground cero (almost). His been a fan of not overloading the learning process by limiting the input. His response about the experience speaks for its self check it out.

Incremental Reading: The Result

OK, I’ve been using Incremental Reading long enough to see a number of articles get digested from ARTICLE form to ITEM form. In short, I am now an Incremental Reading fan, I will never go back.
In long: For me, Supermemo has been a “pit-stop” on my learning journey. I would learn things through reading, watching TV documentaries, discussions with others, etc., and when I had time I would put it into Supermemo. Because I have always learned this way I never questioned the methods. I tried Incremental Reading in the past but I was not willing to give it the necessary priority.
When using Incremental Reading to the full, learning via Supermemo is no longer a stop-and-go process (Learn elsewhere, write down, put into Supermemo), but is an almost organic process, ideas constantly changing and becoming more refined. I no longer look at reading material as words set in stone, but instead as a brainstorming dialogue between me and the author. Ideas are presented, I “catch” the ideas worth further consideration, and I brainstorm with myself over what the true meaning is. Some ideas are clear when you first read them (And can quickly become a flashcard). Others are not so clear and require further brainstorming and dialogue to arrive at a clear statement (Therefore, a flashcard).
So my conclusion: It is a self-brainstorming tool, working towards the goal of your intellectual benefit (Assuming the reading material benefits you intellectually). I see no reason why it could not be used in SOME WAY in everybody’s life. Now that I’m using it regularly, I love it.
I am currently reading Atlas Shrugged, but I have found it more convenient to read through Incremental Reading; first I found a .txt file of the book and am currently reading it chapter-by-chapter (I’m much more likely to regularly read this now that it is in the Incremental Reading process). I plan to do the same things with other required reading material in my life.
Another thing! When I hit 30,000 items I am rewarding myself with an EEEPC 1000HE, a small but powerful XP Netbook. The sole purpose of the Netbook will be Supermemo. Then I will be able to take my Supermemo progress with me wherever I go. :D

Also, if doing this BY MYSELF is so enjoyable RIGHT NOW, I can’t help but wonder what it will be like when I find a girl that is of the same mind as me, and the two of us can carry on a constant exchange of ideas using Incremental Reading as a catalyst.

Follow up original post and comments here.

BTW: I’m also looking to acquire a notebook, the reason: Supermemo

I wish more IReaders would show up an help me CPR it, else it might go death as the post asked.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Marcin Rybacki permalink
    August 8, 2009 03:06

    Incremental reading allows to reread pieces of text on a pseudorandom basis. This alone allows to notice correlations, pieces of information not perceived at first read. And because the process of showing fragments of texts is pseudorandom itself, it helps to formulate connections, draw analogies between other remote fragments.

    What I found discouraging though is the way this process behaves. I don’t completely understand on what basis topics are scheduled. With items it’s obvious, the better you grade yourself the later you see an item. But it’s not like that with topics. In my mind IR mechanism works like this: you read a fragment of a longer text, when you get bored with it you read something different. But what happens to this article you stopped reading? How is it scheduled? I don’t think its solved as a simple FIFO queue, with no priority or differentiation of the time scheduled for the next review. This would easily overload daily load for a user.

    • LittleFish permalink
      August 9, 2009 21:38

      But there is no rule that says you must “process” each of the IR topics you get each day. For example, one day I had about 80 IR topics to go over. I only went through about 20 or so, then I didn’t have any more time. So rather than skip the other 60, I just left them for the next day. Even if the scheduling algorithm isn’t as “in touch” with what your brain needs compared to the algorithm for items, I think having everything “lined up” for me to process and learn is what is so wonderful. I don’t have to worry about going back to something later, because I know it will appear sooner or later.

      This could be a flawed way of doing IR, though (I am a newbie and all)…

      • gersapa permalink*
        August 10, 2009 07:47

        LittelFish. Knowing you don’t need to worry about slipping piece of information is one of the best things about IR for me to.

    • gersapa permalink*
      August 9, 2009 22:28

      Marcin, as already know, I also don’t like to leave the process learning to any thing I can’t control a least is some way. Here some issues important for dealing with IR.

      The way topics are processed is more complex than for items. Although the author explains a bit about it in the official site, is not totally explicit. But something I find very useful is that topics get lower priorities when you make a repetition (items priorities doesn’t get modified during repetitions). Every time some extract is important enough I increase its priority (alt+p).

      As I’m also using (now) autopostpone, I have to set a priority above the threshold established in postpone parameters, so it doesn’t get postpone either.

      As I understand a bit more of this program, an analogy between paint vs photoshop comes to my mind.

      In the following situations priority of some topic don’t increase during repetitions.
      a) Their interval is shortened manually
      b) Some incremental reading operations are executed on the topic
      (Source: http://www.supermemo.com/help/eldata.htm)

      In (b) the interval of the topic from which you make and extract is also shortened to very low values (e.g. 3-4 days).

      • LittleFish permalink
        August 12, 2009 13:33

        I’ve been thinking about the implications of Incremental Reading, and why I feel so enthusiastic about it. In theory, the greatest strength it possesses could also be the greatest danger/weakness (Yays for cliches!). Perhaps this is because I am prone to extremes when it comes to implementation of technology and the “shortcuts” that they provide. Anyways:

        Memory makes us who we are (Your experiences).
        Supermemo allows us to control our memory.
        With Incremental Reading, Supermemo is no longer a simple memory program, but becomes a repository for our intellectual stream-of-consciousness (This of course depends on the degree of implementation).
        For more than a year I have been testing to see if Supermemo can influence my actions on a more subconscious level. Can I use Supermemo to change who I am or shape my personality? Based on my results, to a certain extent I think that the answer is “yes.” If that is really so, then Incremental Reading will make this even easier to do.

        So if Supermemo can (to a degree) “program” who you are, and you program Supermemo, then could you “program” yourself to have certain desirable personality traits? But does this “self-programming” really amount to “self-brainwashing”?

        If so, could you program yourself to think that 2 + 2 = 5 or cause yourself to methodically go crazy?

        I’m thinking out loud, maybe I’m thinking too much.

        • gersapa permalink*
          August 13, 2009 12:07

          “So if Supermemo can (to a degree) “program” who you are, and you program Supermemo, then could you “program” yourself to have certain desirable personality traits?” This affirmation seems to me like acquiring “metacognitive learning” you would not only learn what you learn but be mentally reprogram with the information you nurture your self. I think this happens all the time, albeit naturally. So the consecuences of using any SRSs is new to us all.

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