One Stack Deep

He can push, but when it comes time to pop, he goes off in all directions

Index Cards

One thing that works for remembering things, at least when I know I need to call upon them in the near future, is index cards. Since starting learning a new language (Icelandic), and, separately, realizing over the holidays that I had lost sight of some important goals, with the added complexities of aging and a more complex life with a new job in a new city, index cards re-entered my life as a necessary tool.

Guides for using them suggest you make your own, and in the two cases where I needed them (for studying Mandarin Chinese and studying for a streetcar driving test), that worked. I hadn’t considered actually constructing my, though until I came across a guide from on how to make my own index cards on a keyring. I found all the items for cheap at Daiso’s Vancouver location over the holidays.

There’s no obstacles to stopping me from making them now. I’m going to start small (another thing that works in learning something new) and make one that lists the tasks during my Sunday routine (something else that works in offloading the work my brain needs to do). I can’t wait to see how this goes!

Written by Richard

January 11, 2017 at 3:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized, Works

There’s More to the Remembering Than Just What You Paid Attention To

Scientific American reported in December 2011 of research on the doorway effect, which is forgetting what you were going to do as soon as you entered a different room in your abode. Gabriel A. Radvanskya, Sabine A. Krawietza & Andrea K. Tamplina published a paper showing in experiments that people recalled less walking through a doorway than walking the same distance without a doorway.

From the Scientific American report:

Is it walking through the doorway that causes the forgetting, or is it that remembering is easier in the room in which you originally took in the information? Psychologists have known for a while that memory works best when the context during testing matches the context during learning; this is an example of what is called the encoding specificity principle.

Except that walking back to the room in which you thought of what you wanted to do doesn’t improve the chances of remembering what you wanted to do.

The doorway effect suggests that there’s more to the remembering than just what you paid attention to, when it happened, and how hard you tried. Instead, some forms of memory seem to be optimized to keep information ready-to-hand until its shelf life expires, and then purge that information in favor of new stuff.

No real solutions to the problem are offered in the article. Write down a list of what you need to do in the next room? The Scientific American reporters offer a theory that other events trigger purging of short-term memory, and these events probably won’t give you enough time to jot down the thing you needed to do just now.

Written by Richard

February 9, 2015 at 5:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Avec l’habitude…

Avec l’habitude et le pas rapide, nous oublions les choses. Et c’est peut-être grâce à l’oubli que l’histoire et le passé se révèlent. La poussière, la patine offrent la possibilité de la mémoire.

Karl Dubost: Oublier pour se souvenir

Written by Richard

November 21, 2012 at 9:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The Network is Machine-Augmented Memory

James Bridle:

The noosphere is the unified human consciousness. That is not what the network is. I’ve been conceptualising the network as a universal human memory—pace some very serious qualifications. I’ve believed for a while that the internet is a system intimately connected to memory—it resembles more the space of memory, with its strange connections and absences, than any physical space. Memory does not occupy the same dimension as time, either, even when it is augmented, machined, apparently and infinitely recallable memory.

I am talking in part about anamnesis, Plato’s conception of Socrates/himself as midwife rather than teacher; of remembering: only remember. The internet is only a machine, the network is machine-augmented memory, with all the strange ripple-effects that this produces. And memory, socially and culturally constructed, is not only what we, as individuals, have experienced; it is what we, all of us, have experienced: collectively, forever.

Written by Richard

July 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Clearing a Path to the Thoughts That Are Truly Valuable

Ingrid Wickelgren:

The act of forgetting crafts and hones data in the brain as if carving a statue from a block of marble. It enables us to make sense of the world by clearing a path to the thoughts that are truly valuable. It also aids emotional recovery.

(You may, as I did, need to click through using a redirect URL found at The Browser to view the full story.)

Written by Richard

January 2, 2012 at 7:50 am

Posted in Retrieval

BDNF Prompted By Exercise May Play a Particular Role in Improving Memory and Recall

Gretchen Reynolds reports on studies linking exercise with improved memory:

For some time, scientists have believed that BDNF [brain-derived neurotrophic factor] helps explain why mental functioning appears to improve with exercise. However, they haven’t fully understood which parts of the brain are affected or how those effects influence thinking. The Irish study suggests that the increases in BDNF prompted by exercise may play a particular role in improving memory and recall.

In the concluding chapter of her book Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril, Margaret Heffernan recommends aerobic exercise to help combat poor decision-making. She emphasizes aerobic exercise from other types, like yoga, which she argues makes us feel good but does not make our brains better.

Written by Richard

December 2, 2011 at 6:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Awareness of How you Perform and Learn

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An important part about knowing yourself, according to Drucker [in Managing Oneself], is awareness of how you perform and learn. Some people perform better in situations where they process information through listening. Others learn and perform better by reading.

Ryan Irelan writes to remember. Writing notes gets me partway there, and review is essential. Some of the techniques tried in my past were:

  • rewriting my handwritten notes in computer form, the printing them out for later review. I did this in high school, but never again after that. The idea was that rewriting them, with slight re-organization, would help to remember. Did it work? I haven’t done it since.
  • taking notes in university worked somewhat, but all lectures I attended were live. If I had the opportunity to listen to the lectures instead, I would have been able to pause the tape, consider a point, and rewind if necessary.
  • in May of this year, I had the unusual opportunity to listen to a presentation (about a proposed gondola between Simon Fraser University and Production Way Station in Burnaby, B.C.) twice in the same day, filling in blanks missed the first time and adding points the presenter had not touched on the first time. I could not do any of the questioners and commenters justice because they only spoke once.

People probably either expect (or at least accept) taking notes during meetings. What about during social encounters? I try to make notes directly after, based on very recent memory.

What are your tips, successes and failures with writing notes in lectures, meetings and social encounters?

Written by Richard

November 3, 2011 at 1:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized