Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What I Get Out of Blogging

Last year I did my best to describe why blogging is great for everyone. One of the first benefits I mentioned was how useful it is as a learning/memory tool. Justin Landwehr recently made list of what I'd like to call six reasons why blogging helps you remember what you read:
#1. Write them down. There is a Big increase in retention from doing this. And handwriting seems to be more effective than typing.

#2. Question them. Or have others question them. I remember ideas much better when I have given them a mental colonoscopy.

#3. Re-visit them. This chart was huge in helping me understand how memory works:
(Accompanying article in WIRED, 4/21/08)
My approach is to type up all the ideas from my notebook, typically about 3 months after they were originally written. I have also experimented with a program called Mnemosyne that is like a flash-card program based on this memory principle. I found that it did increase retention, but not so much that I felt compelled to go out of my way to use the program.

#4. Explicitly connect them to other ideas. Based on my experience, this is significantly more effective than re-visiting. I do both, but I find that the ones that are explicitly connected to other ideas I remember more clearly and for a longer time.

This is a really important point that often goes overlooked: Ideas need other ideas to tell them what they mean.

#5. Give them an intuitive place in your mind. Organize them into “chapters”. Memory champions do things like organize ideas into an imagined hotel or landscape.

#6. Explain it to someone. Bonus points if it’s someone who will scrutinize the idea. Double bonus points if it’s someone you respect.
I'm actually kind of curious how non-bloggers remember anything they read.

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You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.