KeepWhatYouLearn.com Will Soon Become HowToRemember.biz
I’m making a few changes here at KeepWhatYouLearn.com. Within the week, the domain for this site will be HowToRemember.biz. (Don’t worry, all the old “KeepWhatYouLearn.com” links will redirect properly.)
Also, the site will have a new, simpler theme.
Also, with this relaunch, I’m kicking this blog into high gear! I’ll be posting at least once a day (except maybe Sunday).
Why all these exciting changes? Because over the last few months, I’ve found a new, exciting focus for my memory research. How do you remember? By the right kind of thinking.
My Old Focus: Mnemonics and Flashcards
When I began KeepWhatYouLearn.com, my memory research focused on:
mnemonics (memory prompts)
flashcards and spaced repetition, using the program Anki
I did some pretty amazing things with mnemonics and flashcards, like memorize the entire Gospel of Mark and an epic poem. Over the years, I made thousands of mnemonics and thousands of flashcards for various facts.
And yet, I discovered that mnemonics and flashcards may not be the solutions I thought they would be. Mnemonics have a dark side, and flashcards can lead to major fatigue.
My New Focus: The Things Themselves
Gradually, I’ve realized that the mind is exceedingly precise. If you train it to think about mnemonics, you’ll think about mnemonics. If you train it to burn through Anki flashcards, you’ll get in a rut of trying to burn through flashcards as fast as you can.
You have to step back and ask yourself – why are you trying to remember anything in the first place? So you can think about it, right? And that leads to a startling conclusion.
Instead of focusing on mnemonics and flashcards, we can focus on the things themselves.
Sharpen the Senses
We can train our senses to take sharper and sharper perceptions. When an artist draws, he sees the details that the rest of us miss. But he didn’t start out so perceptive. He had to train this faculty.
And he doesn’t use mnemonics to remember the exact shape of a nose. He looks and looks and looks at the nose.
Interest the Mind
We can also train our minds to remember, not “interesting” mnemonics, but the actual things we want to think about.
As we discover that these things are interesting in themselves, the world itself becomes brighter, more colorful, more intense. The world itself hasn’t changed. We’re just seeing it a little bit closer to how it really is.
With these insights, my memory research will now focus on questions like attention, interest, and connecting new things to what we already know.
For instance, I recently wrote about how to remember names by making a hobby of collecting names. I’m excited by how radically different this approach is. The standard advice is to slap a goofy mnemonic on your new acquaintance’s face. Instead, you can enter a new world of names and meaning. You skip right to the good stuff.
Any Use for Mnemonics and Flashcards?
Mnemonics and flashcards do have their uses. I still need a way to remind myself to think about and renew older insights, and the spaced repetition of flashcards seems hard to beat. However, I need to learn how to use them without slipping into the “video game” mindset. Flashcards need to help me think, not provide one more pile of “to do” items.
New Domain: HowToRemember.biz
As I said, I’m changing the domain to HowToRemember.biz.
When you think about it, “Keep What You Learn” has a bit of a negative undertone. The assumption is that, if you don’t hang on, you’re going to lose everything. This is true, but only in a sense. We think all the time, and we don’t lose what we actually think about.
Why focus on the possibility of forgetting? Negative energy wastes effort.
Instead, “How to Remember” is much more positive. Remembering is a skill. Here’s how to do it. Focus on the good.
New, Simpler Theme
I’ll also be launching a new theme. I’m inspired by the theme at ZenHabits.net – I love the focus on one article at a time.
Plus, it’s about time that my theme that worked on mobile devices.
So those are the changes coming up. Same guy, same old articles, new domain, new theme, new research, and a new article every day. There’s so much to talk about. Grab my RSS feed, and I’ll see you tomorrow!