296 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. He adds that the ethnographic record shows that with rare exceptions, rock art is indeed associated with ritual and beliefs. “The concept of ‘art for art’s sake’ is a relatively recent western attitude,” he says – and if anything, the propensity for drawing in the dark seems to support that assumption.

      Here again, the sentence reads well if we replace rituals and beliefs with mnemonic practice.

    2. Whitley says: “The conceptual and practical division between the supernatural/sacred/religious world  and the mundane realm is a largely modern and western conceit that has become especially prominent since the Protestant Reformation. Many traditional peoples saw/see no separation between daily versus religious life; many don’t even recognize that they have a ‘religion’ per se. I then concur with the notion that many prehistoric peoples felt a strong connection to the supernatural and the cosmos.”

      This fits into a mnemonic perspective of life as being something greater than religion or ancestor worship. The ancestor worship part comes in because they're a thing to attach our memories of needed culture and knowledge to. They're also important because they're the ones that discovered the knowledge and helped to hand it down.

    3. “In western North America alone, for example, rock art was exclusively made by shamans among some tribes. But in others it might also be made by puberty initiates – boys and/or girls – and in others include adults experiencing life crises too (e.g., the death of a spouse),” Whitley says. But throughout North America, it seems artistic creation was associated with visionary experiences and the perceived receipt of supernatural power.

      Shamanic instances could support knowledge preservation and communication to following generations.

    4. “We also commonly see repetitions of motifs – an iconographic system – in corpora of rock art, again indicative of communicative rather than purely decorative intent,” Whitley says. “By this I don’t imply that rock art has no aesthetic component. In many cases it clearly does. But that doesn’t seem to have been its goal or main justification.”

      The fact that it was just for "art's sake" is a motivating clue for supporting use of these as mnemonics.

    5. Arguing in favor of cosmic connectivity, à la Whitley: why would anybody create art in places that are very difficult to see and dangerous to enter, if the goal is purely aesthetic or decorative?

      If these were used for societal memory purposes, the privacy of the caves as well as the auditory and even halucinatory effects could have helped as well.

      What sorts of other things would we expect to see in such instances? Definitely worth looking at Lynne Kelly's ten criteria in these situations, though some of them are so old as to be unlikely to have as much supporting evidence.

    1. In 2019, an unusually dry summer caused the waters of the Valdecañas Reservoir to recede, revealing a monument that has come to be referred to as the “Spanish Stonehenge.” NASA satellites captured images of the exposed stones known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal, which experts suspect may have been built sometime in the second or third millennium BCE.

      Might be worth looking this up to see how it might or might not relate to pre-Celtic migration patterns as they relate to other standing stones in the Celtic and Celtic fringe areas.

      Sad that the markings are wearing away in addition to making studying the area much more difficult.

  2. Apr 2021
    1. I asked Seyal if Pinterest had ever considered a feature that let users mark a life event complete. Canceled. Finished. Done. “We would have to have a system that thinks about things on an event level, so we could deliver on the promise,” Seyal said. “Right now we just use relevance as a measure.” But had Pinterest considered that, in the long run, people might be more inclined to use the app if it could become a clean space for them when they needed it to be, a corner of the internet uncluttered with grief?

      This would be a great feature for IndieWeb creators to consider.

    2. And, Eichhorn notes, there’s been surprisingly little written about the specific impact of our digital culture on memory.

      This is definitely a ripe area for research.

    3. “Forgetting used to be the default, and that also meant you could edit your memories,” says Kate Eichhorn, who researches culture and media at the New School in New York City and wrote the book The End of Forgetting. “Editing memories” in this context refers to a psychological process, not a Photoshop tool. The human brain is constantly editing memories to incorporate new information and, in some cases, to cope with trauma.

      Possibly worth reading for some of my research?

    4. To hear technologists describe it, digital memories are all about surfacing those archival smiles. But they’re also designed to increase engagement, the holy grail for ad-based business models.

      It would be far better to have apps focus on better reasons for on this day features. I'd love to have something focused on spaced repetition for building up my memory for other things. Reminders at a week, a month, three months, and six months would be a useful thing for some posts.

    5. Our smartphones pulse with memories now. In normal times, we may strain to remember things for practical reasons—where we parked the car—or we may stumble into surprise associations between the present and the past, like when a whiff of something reminds me of Sunday family dinners. Now that our memories are digital, though, they are incessant, haphazard, intrusive.
    6. I still have a photograph of the breakfast I made the morning I ended an eight-year relationship and canceled a wedding. It was an unremarkable breakfast—a fried egg—but it is now digitally fossilized in a floral dish we moved with us when we left New York and headed west. I don’t know why I took the photo, except, well, I do: I had fallen into the reflexive habit of taking photos of everything. Not long ago, the egg popped up as a “memory” in a photo app. The time stamp jolted my actual memory.

      Example of unwanted spaced repetition via social media.

    1. We cannot transfer beliefs or customs from one culture to another, but we can transfer generalisations from multiple cultures about how humans maintain critical knowledge when they are dependent on memory.

      Almost every anthropology source I've read in the last six months has highlighted some version of this.

      If our short history of experience with archaeology is any indicator, it can be very dangerous (and painfully wrong) for us to transfer our customs and beliefs onto other cultures and civilizations which don't have our culture or knowledge base.

      However we can more easily transfer broad generalizations from and across various cultures when we discuss how humans used memory and orality (within their cultures) particularly when they would never have interacted with each other.

    2. In Australia, we are so fortunate to be able to learn from a continuous culture dating back over 60,000 years. We have ample evidence from our Aboriginal cultures of robust knowledge of landscape and skyscape events dating back 17,000 years. (See Patrick Nunn’s amazing book, The Edge of Memory). That is how powerful these methods can be and why they have developed in so many disparate cultures.

      bookmarking Patrick Nunn's The Edge of Memory for future reading

    3. Firstly, an entire tribe moving from Wales to the Salisbury Plain took their encyclopaedia with them. This would require the circle to be erected in the same order as in Wales and oriented in the same direction. In effect, these people were taking their database of knowledge with them, the structure in the stones, and the data in their memories. Secondly, a different tribe conquering those in Wales might identify just how effective this memory technique is and steal only the technology. Essentially, they stole the database structure and filled it with their own data. The bluestones are particularly suited to a mnemonic purpose due to the blotches and blobs in their material makeup.

      Perhaps there's a third possibility not mentioned here?

      Perhaps the group at Waun Mawn, traded a portion of their knowledge and database to a more powerful and potentially more central nearby group of people? The evidence indicates that many of the people buried at Stonehenge were originally from the area of Wales where some of the stones originated. The fact that some stones remained behind may mean that some of the needed local encyclopedia stayed behind.

    1. Equally, Waun Mawn did not become the core of a monument complexof the kind known around other great stone circles, such as the Ring of Brodgar, Aveburyand Stonehenge. Its development as a major centre in the earlier Neolithic (seeFigure 1)appears to have been curtailed by early dismantling. Although the region was probably notentirely evacuated—the four remaining stones at Waun Mawn possibly symbolise the iden-tities of those groups who remained local—it may have been extensively depopulated. Onlyfurther research into settlement and land-use employing other lines of evidence, such as paly-nology, will provide answers.

      Interesting to think that some of these stones may have stayed behind to represent the knowledge of the group that stayed behind. If the stones can be thought of as "books", some of the extra empty ones were relocated with the knowledge of other books moved into them in new contexts.



    1. He also introduced a code by which numbers were translated into words to aid memorising them. The code was as follows: 1=p,a;2=b,e;3=c,i;4=d,o;5=t,u;6=f,ar,ra;7=g,er,re;8=l,ir,ri;9=m,or,ro;0=n,ur,ru1 = p, a; 2 = b, e; 3 = c, i; 4 = d, o; 5 = t, u; 6 = f, ar, ra; 7 = g, er, re; 8 = l, ir, ri; 9 = m, or, ro; 0 = n, ur, ru1=p,a;2=b,e;3=c,i;4=d,o;5=t,u;6=f,ar,ra;7=g,er,re;8=l,ir,ri;9=m,or,ro;0=n,ur,ru. So to remember a number such as 314159 one produced a word such as 'cadator' which then translated back into 314159. The assumption here was that 'cadator' was easier to remember than 314159.

      Sadly no reference to which book or portion in which this segment appears.

    1. I know I've read this before, but worth a revisit. I'll also note that I recall Michael Nielsen has a Twitter thread about the idea and people's reactions to the idea.


    1. Read chapter 11 "Memorizing Number" to see what Gardner says about available techniques. He only covers the phoenetic major system and some basic associative techniques.

      No mention of the method of loci. Some interesting references listed for the chapter however.

    2. Bibliography of Memory. Dr. Morris Young. Chilton, 1961. More than6,000 references are cited in this bibliography by a Manhattan oph-thalmologist and collector of books on memory systems.

      This looks fascinating and I don't think I've seen a reference to it before.

    3. The Art of Memory. Frances Yates. University of Chicago Press, 1966.

      I wonder if he really referenced this at all? To my knowledge there isn't anything from her text written here.

    4. “Mnemonics.” John Malcolm Mitchell inEncyclopedia Britannica. 11thed. 1911. Excellent history, with references to earlier books and bibli-ographies.

      I remember having found this article quite valuable myself.

    5. Among the many responses to my request for a mnemonic sentencefore, the following seemed to me particularly noteworthy:To expresse, remember to memorize a sentence to simplify this.( John L. Greene, Beverly Hills, California.)To disrupt a playroom is commonly a practice of children.( Joseph J. Guiteras, Baldwinsville, New York.)By omnibus I traveled to Brooklyn. (David Mage, New York, NewYo r k . )It enables a numskull to memorize a quantity of numerals. (GeneWidhoff, Burbank, California.)TheEnciclopedia universal ilustrada, in an article on “Mnemo-tecnia,” gives the following Spanish sentence fore:Te ayudar arecordar la cantidad a indoctos si relesme bien. Several Italian versesforewill be found on page 755 ofMatematica Dilettevole e Curiosaby Italo Ghersi.

      Mnemonic sentences for the number e.

    6. To aid the students of his memory school in New York, Bruno Furstprovides them with a printed number dictionary listing a variety ofappropriate words for each number from 1 to 1,000. Such lists arenot necessary, however, unless you intend to develop great profi-ciency in the art.

      Solid evidence that Martin Gardner was at least aware of a portion of Bruno Fürst's work.

      It's been a while, but I'll have to look back to see what Furst says, if anything, about increasing speed.

    7. It is usually best,in fact, to work out your own key words and mental associationsrather than adopt those of someone else; your inventions will becloser to your own experience and therefore easier to recall.

      Incidentally, this is sometimes what makes the system harder to teach/describe to others. It also means a slightly higher threshold of work on the part of the learner.

    8. A reproduction of Carroll’snotes on his number alphabet will be found in Warren Weaver’s arti-cle “Lewis Carroll: Mathematician,” inScientific Americanfor April1956.)

      I need to track down this reference and would love to see what Weaver has to say about the matter.

      Certainly Weaver would have spoken of this with Claude Shannon (or he'd have read it).

    9. In Germany the great Gottfried Wil-helm von Leibniz was sufficiently intrigued by the notion to incor-porate it into his scheme for a universal language;

      I wish he'd written more here about this. Now I'll have to dig up the reference and the set up as I've long had a similar thought for doing this myself.

      I'll also want to check into the primacy of the idea as others have certainly thought about the same thing. My initial research indicates that both François Fauvel Gouraud and Isaac Pitman both wrote about or developed this possibility. In Pitman's case he used it to develop his version of shorthand which was likely informed by earlier versions of shorthand.

    10. Reading just chapter eleven about "Memorizing Numbers"

      Hexaflexagons, Probability Paradoxes, and the Tower of Hanoi by Martin Gardner (Cambridge University Press, 2008) (The New Martin Gardner Mathematical Library, Series Number 1)

    11. Although the art of mnemonics goes back to ancient Greece (theterm comes fromMnemosyne, the Greek goddess of memory), it wasnot until 1634 that a Frenchman named Pierre Hrigone published inParis hisCursus Mathematici,which contained an ingenious systemfor memorizing numbers.

      Curious what sort of research he may have done to date this back to Pierre Hérigone? Looking at many of his sources, I've seen many of the same. I love that he's used the same 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica that I've also run across.

    12. I know of no similar aids in English to recalle, the other commontranscendental number. However, if you memorizeeto five deci-mal places (2.71828), you automatically know it to nine, becausethe last four digits obligingly repeat themselves (2.718281828). InFranceeis memorized to 10 places by the traditional memory aid:Tu aideras rappeler ta quantit beaucoup de docteurs amis.Perhapssome reader can construct an amusing English sentence that willcarryeto at least 20 decimals.
    1. <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Martin Gardner </span> in Hexaflexagons, Probability Paradoxes & the Tower of Hanoi in Chapter 11 Memorizing Numbers (<time class='dt-published'>04/02/2021 14:31:10</time>)</cite></small>

    1. My "Memoria Technica" is a modification of Gray's;

      Because of the likelihood that Gray is a misspelling, it is most likely the case that he's referring here to Richard Grey)'s method from the book Memoria Technica, or, a New Method of Artificial Memory (1730).

      Could they have known each other personally? Might be worth checking his massive correspondence.

    2. To help himself to remember dates, he devised a system of mnemonics, which he circulated among his friends. As it has never been published, and as some of my readers may find it useful, I reproduce it here. My "Memoria Technica" is a modification of Gray's; but, whereas he used both consonants and vowels to represent digits, and had to content himself with a syllable of gibberish to represent the date or whatever other number was required, I use only consonants, and fill in with vowels ad libitum, and thus can always manage to make a real word of whatever has to be represented.

      Lewis Carroll aka Dodgson never published his own version of his memory system.

      N.B. He indicates here that he filled in his vowels ad libitum which is now the common practice for the phonetic major system. As this indicates he never published it, it then becomes a question as to whether or not he was the originator of this part of the technique or if it was later re-invented/discovered by others.

  3. Mar 2021
    1. As I think back on this a few minutes later, I'm reminded that many of these sorts of abstract art forms are found not only in totems, but are seen in neolithic stone balls, European neolithic decorative art, or could have been used to decorate lukasa memory boards).

      This may make them more valuable within a system for using these individual art pieces as memory devices.

    2. I love the ideas hiding in some of these design elements. The pieces are very atomic, but can be built up into some fascinating bigger designs.

      I'm curious if there are any mnemonics attached to these that add additional levels of meaning in the art in which they're embedded?

      The attached video was incredibly helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc3K-MyH3xg

    1. He talks about stories being important to us.

      This is because there's an organization and order to our stories, which is important to our memory, individually and culturally.

      The idea of photographs helping to spark our memories of times and spaces.

      Urgency vs. acceptance

      h/t Jacky A.

    1. I've broken down each base medium with some of its benefits, tips, and opportunities to make your content more accessible.

      Accessibility is definitely a great goal, but how can one also make it more memorable/rememberable or more sticky?

      What methods are there outside of [[Made to Stick]]?

    2. No matter how engaging, funny, well-produced the video is, I will not be able to retain it unless I cannot read along.

      I'm wondering how people of various stripes like this and other versions may or may not relate to the variety of mnemotechniques out there.

    1. Reasonable overview of history. Worth digging into to flesh out more fully with respect to the major system in particular.

    2. BIBLIOGRAPHY. - A large number of the works referred to in the text contain historical material. Among histories of the subject, see C. F. von Aretin, Systesnatische Anleitung zur Theorie and Praxis der Mnemonik (Sulzberg, 1810); A. E. Middleton, Memory Systems, Old and New (espec. 3rd rev. ed., New York, 1888), with bibliography of works from 1325 to 1888 by G. S. Fellows and account of the Loisette litigation; F. W. Colegrove, Memory (1901), with bibliography, pp. 353-3 6 1. (J. M. M.)

      This is likely worth checking out for its history.

    3. In 1648 Stanislaus Mink von Wenussheim or Winckelmann made known what he called the "most fertile secret" in mnemonics - namely, the use of consonants for figures, so as to express numbers by words (vowels being added as required); and the philosopher Leibnitz adopted an alphabet very similar to that of Winckelmann in connexion with his scheme for a form of writing common to all languages. Winckelmann's method, which in fact is adopted with slight changes by the majority of subsequent "original" systems, was modified and supplemented in regard to many details by Richard Grey (1694-1771), who published a Memoria technica in 1730.

      Apparently the beginning of the phonetic major system? Was there any relation to Celtes?

    4. About the end of the 15th century Petrus de Ravenna (b. 1448) awakened such astonishment in Italy by his mnemonic feats that he was believed by many to be a necromancer. His Phoenix artis memoriae (Venice, 1491, 4 vols.) went through as many as nine editions, the seventh appearing at Cologne in 1608. An impression equally great was produced about the end of the 16th century by Lambert Schenkel (Gazophylacium, 1610), who taught mnemonics in France, Italy, and Germany, and, although he was denounced as a sorcerer by the university of Louvain, published in 1593 his tractate De memoria at Douai with the sanction of that celebrated theological faculty. The most complete account of his system is given in two works by his pupil Martin Sommer, published at Venice in 1619. In 1618 John Willis (d. 1628?) published Mnemonica; sive ars reminiscendi (Eng. version by Leonard Sowersby, 1661; extracts in Feinaigle's New Art of Memory, 3rd ed., 1813), containing a clear statement of the principles of topical or local mnemonics. Giordano Bruno, in connexion with his exposition of the ars generalis of Lull, included a memoria technica in his treatise De umbris idearum. Other writers of this period are the Florentine Publicius (1482); Johann Romberch (1533); Hieronimo Morafiot, Ars memoriae (1602); B. Porta, Ars reminiscendi (1602).

      Hunt down copies of all these.

    5. The first important modification of the method of the Romans was that invented by the German poet Konrad Celtes, who, in his Epitoma in utramque Ciceronis rhetoricam cum arte memorativa nova (1492), instead of places made use of the letters of the alphabet.
    6. Among the voluminous writings of Roger Bacon is a tractate De arte memorativa.
    7. Memory is commonly classified by psychologists according as it is exercised (a) mechanically, by attention and repetition; (b) judiciously, by careful selection and co-ordination; and (c) ingeniously, by means of artifices, i.e. mnemotechny, mnemonics. It must, however, be observed that no mnemonic is of any value which does not possess the qualities of (a) and (b). A mnemonic is essentially a device which uses attention and repetition, and careful selection is equally necessary. A more accurate description of mnemonics is "mediate" or "indirect" memory.
    1. <img alt="" class="fj et ep iu w" src="https://via.hypothes.is/im_/https://miro.medium.com/max/7116/1*VE2_0XWErGKsDxXk5ItdMw.png" width="3558" height="1992" srcset="https://via.hypothes.is/https://miro.medium.com/max/552/1*VE2_0XWErGKsDxXk5ItdMw.png 276w, https://via.hypothes.is/https://miro.medium.com/max/1104/1*VE2_0XWErGKsDxXk5ItdMw.png 552w, https://via.hypothes.is/https://miro.medium.com/max/1280/1*VE2_0XWErGKsDxXk5ItdMw.png 640w, https://via.hypothes.is/https://miro.medium.com/max/1400/1*VE2_0XWErGKsDxXk5ItdMw.png 700w" sizes="700px" role="presentation"/>A screengrab from Microsoft’s Productivity Future Vision film, via Nick Foster’s Future Mundane

      It dawns on me that these sort of virtual reality-type images that have been around for ages aren't too dissimilar to how I see the world with various mnemonic techniques. They're also the closes way of potentially helping modern first world Western cultures better understand how many indigenous societies have seen the world in the past.

    1. nucleus accumbens

      RESEARCH MORE. What is this? What it's role in memory storage?

    2. Now, where the emotional memory is stored in response to these survival-enhancing positive memories is not yet entirely clear.

      I have heard this from several of my sources. This one is a bit more dated than some of the others I've used, so I need to look at something more recent and see if this has changed.

    1. If eye movement were consciously controlled, the dreamer’s eyes could become a vehicle for getting a message to the waking world.

      iirc this is relatively old news, the more novel bit is being able to communicate with sleeping people

  4. Feb 2021
    1. Maryanne Garry 🐑🇳🇿. (2020, December 12). A person with the virus who, say, has lunch with friends is a witness to an event in which the virus was possibly transmitted, and a suspect who might have transmitted it to others. Our new paper in PoPS @lorraine_hope @rachelz @drayeshaverrall and Jamie Robertson https://t.co/FoOlx78HB2 [Tweet]. @drlambchop. https://twitter.com/drlambchop/status/1337676716936896512

    1. The idea of a purely linear text is a myth; readers stitch together meanings in much more complex ways than we have traditionally imagined; the true text is more of a network than a single, fixed document.

      The internet isn't a new invention, it's just a more fixed version of the melange of text, ideas, and thought networks that have existed over human existence.

      First there was just the memory and indigenous peoples all over the world creating vast memory palaces to interconnect their thoughts. (cross reference the idea of ancients thinking much the way we do now from the fist episode or so of Literature and History)

      Then we invite writing and texts which help us in terms of greater storage without the work or relying solely on memory. This reaches it's pinnacle in the commonplace book and the ideas of Llull's combinatorial thought.

      Finally we've built the Internet which interconnects so much more.

      But now we need to go back and revisit the commonplace book and memory techniques to tie them altogether. Perhaps Lynne Kelly's concept of The Third Archive is what we should perfect next until another new instantiation comes to augment the system.

    2. The great minds of the period — Milton, Bacon, Locke — were zealous believers in the memory-enhancing powers of the commonplace book. There is a distinct self-help quality to the early descriptions of commonplacing’s virtues: in the words of one advocate, maintaining the books enabled one to “lay up a fund of knowledge, from which we may at all times select what is useful in the several pursuits of life.”
    1. According to the historian Robert Darnton, this led to a very particular structuring of knowledge: commonplace users "broke texts into fragments and assembled them into new patterns by transcribing them in different sections of their notebook." It was a mixture of fragmented order and disorder that anticipated a particular form of scientific investigation and organisation of information.

      Might be an interesting source to read.

      Also feels in form a bit like the combinatorial method of Raymond Llull, but without as much mixing.

    2. The English physician and philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) was all too aware of the grip of amnesia and the shortness of memory. In his seminal Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) he wrote of his rival Blaise Pascal, who he named as the “prodigy of parts”, who “forgot nothing of what he had done, read, or thought.” Locke, in reaction, attempted to simulate Pascal’s "hyperthymesia", not in the mind, but upon the page: through the construction of a system of "commonplacing", as a form of what Swift called “supplemental memory”.

      Interesting use of hyperthymesia here. Also Swift using the concept of "supplemental memory" giving at least a historical mile marker of the state of mnemotechy which may have been known at the time.

    3. In "A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet" from 1721, Jonathan Swift remarked that a commonplace book is something that “a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that great wits have short memories”.
    1. "The people who are better at drawing really seem to have more developed structures in regions of the brain that control for fine motor performance and what we call procedural memory," she explained.

      fine motor performance and procedural memory

      Look up research on these.

  5. Jan 2021
    1. To acknowledge the traditional territory is to recognize its longer history, reaching beyond colonization and the establishment of European colonies, as well as its significance for the Indigenous peoples who lived and continue to live upon this territory, and whose practices and spiritualities were tied to the land and continue to develop in relationship to the land and its other inhabitants today.

      Particularly interesting to see the phrase "spiritualities were tied to the land" now knowing the power of mnemonics for a variety of indigenous peoples.

    1. cellular data recorders offer the capacity to measure biologically relevant signals15,16,17,18,19 in places that are otherwise difficult to access, such as inside the body20,21, and over time22
    1. We could have called a.clone() rather than Rc::clone(&a), but Rust’s convention is to use Rc::clone in this case. The implementation of Rc::clone doesn’t make a deep copy of all the data like most types’ implementations of clone do. The call to Rc::clone only increments the reference count, which doesn’t take much time. Deep copies of data can take a lot of time. By using Rc::clone for reference counting, we can visually distinguish between the deep-copy kinds of clones and the kinds of clones that increase the reference count. When looking for performance problems in the code, we only need to consider the deep-copy clones and can disregard calls to Rc::clone
    1. You can use code specified in a Drop trait implementation in many ways to make cleanup convenient and safe: for instance, you could use it to create your own memory allocator! With the Drop trait and Rust’s ownership system, you don’t have to remember to clean up because Rust does it automatically.
  6. Dec 2020
    1. It’s no coincidence that we walk when we need to think: evidence shows that movement enhances thinking and learning, and both are activated in the same centre of motor control in the brain. In the influential subfield of cognitive science concerned with ‘embodied’ cognition, one prominent claim is that actions themselves are constitutive of cognitive processes. That is, activities such as playing a musical instrument, writing, speaking or dancing don’t start in the brain and then emanate out to the body as actions; rather, they entail the mind and body working in concert as a creative, integrated whole, unfolding and influencing each other in turn. It’s therefore a significant problem that many of us are trapped in work and study environments that don’t allow us to activate these intuitive cognitive muscles, and indeed often even encourage us to avoid them.

      I'm curious if Lynne Kelly or others have looked into these areas of research with their Memory work? She's definitely posited that singing and dancing as well as creating art helps indigenous cultures in their memory work.

    1. My high school English teacher used to say, “Image evokes emotion.” Convey a powerful enough image or idea (and make it vague enough) and people will project onto it what they will. This is the heart of many a savvy PR strategy
    1. The use of focused mentalimaging to arouse the emotions from torpor and spiritual lethargy is a traditional featureof monastic spirituality.

      and also memory...

    2. The bulk of the work is devoted to the steps on the ladders of spiritual progress.The striking images, biblical verses, key words, numbers, and colors that occur in thislongest section of the work (paras. 16–23) demonstrate Hugh’s interest in fixing in themind of his readers the stages of spiritual progress, the sequence of emotions and in-sights the sinner must complete in order to attain his goal of closeness to God.

      He's almost got it all doesn't he? Emotion, color, numbers, striking images, spirituality, religion, etc.

    1. I would do the following. identify by name all the trees that I want to memorize, say 257. Divide them into card pack size like groups. Create suites for those packs such as: trunks, twigs, leaf design, leaf shape, geometry design, tree shape, colors, season best observed, flowers, fruits or even a special ID tests suit (such as smell this part, or cut the leaf to see if it milk). 4)I would try to find which characteristic of a tree would help me the most to identify it and then put that tree in the appropriate suit, creating a nice and visual card of the tree and its best ID characteristic. I’d find some kind of logical order to the suits with 10 trees per suits. (eg. trunk as the first characteristic, then twigs and then leafs) Then I would learn to play with the 4 packs of cards that I have created as if they were a regular pack of cards.

      This could be an interesting sort of structure for my bird project.

    1. If you give any question to a student that has a clear, definitive answer, you are tempting them to cheat.

      We should be assessing how people use information to solve problems they care about, rather than whether or not they can recall information.

  7. Nov 2020
    1. Jan Zoń - A New Revolutionary Cards Method

      This highlights a question I've had for a while: What is the best encoding method for very quickly memorizing a deck of cards while still keeping a relatively small ceiling on the amount of space to memorize and work out in advance.

      I want to revisit it and do the actual math to maximize the difference between the methods.

  8. Oct 2020
    1. In 1965, he published the highly influential work Theories of Primitive Religion, arguing against the existing theories of what at the time were called "primitive" religious practices. Arguing along the lines of his theoretical work of the 1950s, he claimed that anthropologists rarely succeeded in entering the minds of the people they studied, and so ascribed to them motivations which more closely matched themselves and their own culture, not the one they were studying. He also argued that believers and non-believers approached the study of religion in vastly different ways, with non-believers being quicker to come up with biological, sociological, or psychological theories to explain religion as an illusion, and believers being more likely to come up with theories explaining religion as a method of conceptualizing and relating to reality.
    1. Rather than the night before a quiz or exam, it may be more important to sleep well for the duration of the time when the topics tested were taught. The implications of these findings are that, at least in the context of an academic assessment, the role of sleep is crucial during the time the content itself is learned, and simply getting good sleep the night before may not be as helpful.
    1. Luhmann’s slip-box grew to become an equal thinking partner in his work. He described his system as his secondary memory (zweitgedächtnis), alter ego, or reading memory (lesegedächtnis).
    1. ...conversations take random walks through events and ideas in a manner determined by the associative networks of the participants." --Douglas Hofstadter, Foreward, Sparse Distributed Memory

      This is reminiscent of Zegnat's mention during the Gardens and Streams session of remembering where things were in the IndieWeb wiki by remembering the pathways more so than the things themselves. This is very reminiscent of Australian songlines.

    1. In mnemotechnic,brevitasrefers to the creating ofsuch ‘‘rich’’ if necessarily ‘‘brief ’’ units. Because there is in principle no limiton the number ofdivisionesa person may have in memory, readers could beencouraged to make ‘‘brief and compendious’’ summaries of materials theyhad learned.

      This is very similar to the idea in TiddlyWiki or Zettlekasten of writing down and storing the minimal amount of information on a card to capture an idea.

    2. Therefore it is a great valuefor fixing a memory-image that when we read books, we strive to impress onour memory through the power of forming our mental images not only thenumber and order of verses or ideas, but at the same time the color, shape,position, and placement of the letters, where we have seen this or that writ-ten, in what part, in what location (at the top, the middle, or the bottom)we saw it positioned, in what color we observed the trace of the letter or theornamented surface of the parchment

      I've always been able to generally remember how far into a book and on what part of the page (left/right; top/middle/bottom) the thing was. This obviously is not a new phenomenon, though obviously the printing of texts in the modern age helps standardize this for students in comparison with this particular example which discusses different versions of the same text.

    3. Having learned the Psalms [as a whole], I then devise the same sort ofscheme for each separate psalm, starting with the beginning words of theverses just as I did for the whole Psalter starting with the first words of thepsalms, and I can thereafter easily retain in my heart the whole series one verseat a time; first by dividing and marking off the book by [whole] psalms andthen each psalm by verses, I have reduced a large amount of material to suchconciseness and brevity

      The repeated uses of knowing and keeping things in the heart in this text along with the overlap of memory makes me wonder where the initial phrase "to know by heart" originated. This 12th century text certainly is a reasonably old one, though certainly others may have likely existed before.

    4. Now indeed endeavor to imprintin this fashion in your memory the matters which are written out below, ac-cording to the method and diagram for learning by heart demonstrated toyou earlier, so that by experience you can know the truth of my words, whenyou perceive how valuable it is to devote study and labor not just to havingheard the lectures on the Scriptures or to discussion, but to memory-work.

      here's the phrase "learning by heart" translated more familiarly

      I'm curious what the original Latin was?

    5. Thus, as an art, memory was most importantly associated in the MiddleAges with composition, not simply with retention.
    6. Re-collection is not passive, but rather an activity involvinghuman will and thought; it is often defined as a form of reasoning. One mayconveniently think of this activity in spatial terms, as if memories have beenstored in a variety of places and must be called together in a common placewhere we can become aware of them, where we can ‘‘see’’ them again andknow them in the present.

      I don't use it frequently (enough perhaps), but TiddlyWiki has the ability to open multiple cards (tiddlers) in one view (using a permalink) as a means of giving disparate small pieces of thought a commonplace. Very few other note taking systems do this without relying on a taxonomy mechanism.

    7. As understood by the early scho-lastic philosophers, Aristotle taught also thatevery memory is composed of twoaspects: a ‘‘likeness’’ or ‘‘image,’’ which is visual in nature (simulacrum), and anemotional resonance or coloring (intentio), which serves to ‘‘hook’’ a particu-lar memory into one (or perhaps more) of a person’s existing networks of ex-perience.Memory works by association.
    8. Finally, and as fundamentally as there is a numerical memory and a dia-lectical memory, there is a geometry of memory too. Almost every monas-tic mnemotechnical scheme—ladders, roses, buildings, maps—was based ongeometrical figures: squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, and complex refor-mations of these, including three-dimensional structures

      She doesn't mention it, but they're not only placing things in order for potential memory purposes, but they're also placing an order on their world as well.

      Ladders and steps were frequently used to create an order of beings as in the scala naturae or the Great Chain of Being.

      Some of this is also seen in Ramon Lull's Ladder of Ascent and Descent of the Mind, 1305 (Ars Magna)

    9. memory-making was regarded as active; it was even a craft with techniquesand tools, all designed tomakean ethical, useful product.

      Perhaps it was this craft and the idea of making an ethical product that forced Peter Ramus and others to suspend the arts and crafts of memory since many early practitioners encouraged violent, sexual, and other absurd images as a means of maintaining them. This certainly may not have sat well with Puritans using these mnemotechniques to memorize portions of the Bible and their catechisms.

    1. Luhmann also described his system as his secondary memory (Zweitgedächtnis), alter ego, or his reading memory or (Lesegedächtnis).

      Some interesting words in German for secondary memory and reading memory.

    1. Our brain can only hold to so much information at a time.

      of course this is why I like mnemonics and specific techniques like the method of loci. We can not only retain more but the memories can be stored in interesting ways that increase their potentially creativity like creating a Zettelkasten in the brain.

    1. Your machine is a library not a publication device. You have copies of documents is there that you control directly, that you can annotate, change, add links to, summarize, and this is because the memex is a tool to think with, not a tool to publish with.

      I can't help but think about Raymond Lull's combinatorial rings which he used as a thinking tool. Or Giordano Bruno's revision of Lull's tools as described in De Umbris Idearum. Given their knowledge of the art of memory stemming from rhetoric in combination with his combinatorial tool, he was essentially sitting on top of an early form of a memex.

      I also can't help but think about Kicks Condor's Fraidyc.at reader tool that pulls in wiki content from TiddlyWikis and which have the potential to also make wikis publishing tools as well.

    1. It looks to me like Andy and Michael are grasping at recreating with modern technology and tools what many (most? all?) indigenous cultures around the world used to ritually learn and memorize their culture's knowledge. Mnemonics, spaced repetition, graded initiation, orality, dance, and song were all used as a cohesive whole to do this.

      The best introduction to many of these methods and their pedagogic uses is best described by Lynne Kelly's book Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory, and the Transmission of Culture.

      If they take her ideas as a basis and then layer on their own thinking, I think they'll get much further much quicker. Based on my reading of their work thus far, they're limiting themselves.

    1. Our experience is that many of today’s technology leaders genuinely venerate Engelbart, Kay, and their colleagues. Many even feel that computers have huge potential as tools for improving human thinking. But they don’t see how to build good businesses around developing new tools for thought. And without such business opportunities, work languishes.

      Some of these ideas in this section tangentially touch on the broader problems of EdTech. Technology isn't necessarily the answer.

      They're onto something, but I feel like they're missing a huge grounding in areas of pedagogy, teaching, EdTech history, and even memory and memory research.

    2. designed so the user must always engage deeply with the meaning of the question, not its superficial appearance

      They seem to be missing the idea of association in memory techniques. The spaced repetition is working on the form of the question by itself since the card doesn't form a specific or memorable enough associating between the two important pieces of knowledge.

    3. What if the best tools for thought have already been discovered? In other words, perhaps the 1960s and 1970s were an unrepeatable golden age, and all we can expect in the future is gradual incremental improvement, and perhaps the occasional major breakthrough, at a decreasing frequency?

      Many have been, but they've been forgotten and need to be rediscovered and repopularized as well as refined.

      Once this has happened, perhaps others may follow. Ideas like PAO are incredibly valuable ones that hadn't previously existed, but were specially built for remembering specific types of information. How can we combinatorially use some of these other methods to create new and interesting ones for other types of tools?

    4. In 1971, the psychologist Allan Paivio proposed the dual-coding theory, namely, the assertion that verbal and non-verbal information are stored separately in long-term memory. Paivio and others investigated the picture superiority effect, demonstrating that pictures and words together are often recalled substantially better than words alone.

      Another example of how much of historic memory methods we've dramatically lost and need to regain.

    5. The text is beautiful, but reading it is a much more remote and cerebral experience, conveying a much less visceral emotional understanding.

      And here again they reveal their lack of memory research. Indigenous peoples have used song, dance, and visuals to more dramatically appeal to the senses for improving memory.

      I'm also struck here that they haven't touched on the idea of memory related to smells.

    6. A second caution relates to elaborative encoding. The mnemonic techniques are, as you have likely realized, an example of elaborative encoding in action, connecting the things we want to memorize (say, our shopping list) to something which already has meaning for us (say, our memory palace). By contrast, when an expert learns new information in their field, they don’t make up artificial connections to their memory palace. Instead, they find meaningful connections to what they already know.

      This was essentially the logical memory method espoused by Peter Ramus in the mid-1500's. He's a major source of the reason we don't use a broader number of methods within the art of memory in modern society. We need to remedy this error. I feel like the authors are woefully unaware of a lot of history and psychology here.

    7. Is it possible to create a medium which blends the best qualities of both video and text?



    8. One of us has previously assertedMichael Nielsen, Augmenting Long-Term Memory (2018). that in spaced-repetition memory systems, users need to make their own cards. The reasoning is informal: users often report dissatisfaction and poor results when working with cards made by others. The reason seems to be that making the cards is itself an important act of understanding, and helps with committing material to memory. When users work with cards made by others, they lose those benefits.

      This is actually an incredibly well documented phenomenon in the history of mnemotechniques or ars memorativa. Because creativity for individuals is dramatically different in addition to their prior knowledge and value of links, having custom made images helps tremendously.

      This is also at the root of some of the philosophy of Bartłomiej Beniowski's A Handbook of Phrenotypics for Teachers and Students, Part 1 in 1842.

    9. Historically, a lot of work on tools for thought has either ignored emotion, or treated it as no more than a secondary concern.

      These guys are going to have their skirts blown up when they come across the work of Lynne Kelly.

    10. These are preliminary results, and need more investigation.

      How preliminary can they really be? The idea of spaced repetition goes back to the ancient Greeks and Romans and Hermann Ebbinghaus did psychology research on the topic and was publishing in 1885. Surely they've got to have a better grasp than this indicates here.

    11. I want creativity!

      For this one need look no further than Ramond Lull...

    12. How to best help users when they forget the answer to a question? Suppose a user can’t remember the answer to the question: “Who was the second President of the United States?” Perhaps they think it’s Thomas Jefferson, and are surprised to learn it’s John Adams. In a typical spaced-repetition memory system this would be dealt with by decreasing the time interval until the question is reviewed again. But it may be more effective to follow up with questions designed to help the user understand some of the surrounding context. E.g.: “Who was George Washington’s Vice President?” (A: “John Adams”). Indeed, there could be a whole series of followup questions, all designed to help better encode the answer to the initial question in memory.

      Here they're using the word encode at the bottom of the example, but they're not encoding anything!! They're talking about making other tangential associations which may help to triangulate the answer, but they're not directly encoding the actual information itself.

    13. Indeed, it seems fair to say that any person who could invent Hindu-Arabic numerals, starting from the Roman numerals, would be both one of the great mathematical geniuses who ever lived, and one of the great design geniuses who ever lived. They’d have to be extraordinarily capable in both domains, capable of an insight-through-making loop which used the evolving system of numerals to improve not just their own mathematical ideas, but to have original, world-class insights into mathematics; and also to use those mathematical insights to improve their evolving system of numerals.

      I feel somewhat the same way about them and their memory abilities and insights. They don't seem to have done enough deep research into memory systems to be making the suppositions and blanket statements they're making. There's more genius hiding in there than they seem to be aware of. Sure, some of their caution and caveats are appropriate, but I feel like they're missing more than they're getting.

    1. I ran across this 5 year old article courtesy of a few recent tweets:

      This took me back to a time and something I’d forgotten writing, that has made me rethink where we are now: https://t.co/COgNQnutZr

      — Kate Bowles (@KateMfD) April 25, 2020
      <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

      “power is distributed very unevenly throughout the global network of higherEd institutions. If digital innovation is left to the market, we will continue to see scale and standardisation dressed up as personalisation and differentiation.” ⁦@KateMfDhttps://t.co/pqskuKPbQj

      — Robin DeRosa (@actualham) April 25, 2020
      <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

      What surprises me is that it's about education and pedagogy that starts off with a vignette in which Kate Bowles talks about the unknown purpose of Stonehenge.

      But I've been doing some serious reading on the humanities relating to memory, history, and indigenous cultures over the last few years. It dawns on me:

      I know what those stones are for!

      A serious answer provided by Australian science and memory researcher Dr. Lynne Kelly indicates that Stonehenge and similar monolithic sites built by indigenous cultures across the world are--in fact--pedagogic tools!!

      We've largely lost a lot of the roots of our ancient mnemonic devices through gradual mis- and dis-use as well as significant pedagogic changes by Petrus Ramus, an influential French dialectician, humanist, logician, and educational reformer. Scholar Frances Yates indicated in The Art of Memory that his influential changes in the mid-1500's disassociated memory methods including the method of loci, which dated back to ancient Greece, from the practice of rhetoric as a field of study. As a result we've lost a fantastic tradition that made teaching and the problem of memory far worse.

      Fortunately Lynne Kelly gives a fairly comprehensive overview of indigenous cultures across human history and their use of these methods along with evidence in her book Memory Code which is based on her Ph.D. thesis. Even better, she didn't stop there and she wrote a follow up book that explores the use of these methods and places them into a modern pedagogy setting and provides some prescriptive uses.

      I might suggest that instead of looking forward to technology as the basis of solutions in education, that instead we look back---not just to our past or even our pre-industrial past, but back to our pre-agrarian past.

      Let's look back to the tremendous wealth of indigenous tribes the world over that modern society has eschewed as "superstitious" and "simple". In reality, they had incredibly sophisticated oral stories and systems that they stored in even more sophisticated memory techniques. Let's relearn and reuse those techniques to make ourselves better teachers and improve our student's ability to learn and retain the material with which they're working.

      Once we've learned to better tap our own memories, we'll realize how horribly wrong we've been for not just decades but centuries.

      This has been hard earned knowledge for me, but now that I've got it, I feel compelled to share it. I'm happy to chat with people about these ideas to accelerate their growth, but I'd recommend getting them from the source and reading Dr. Kelly's work directly. (Particularly her work with indigenous peoples of Australia, who helped to unlock a large piece of the puzzle for her.) Then let's work together to rebuild the ancient edifices that our ancestors tried so desperately to hand down, but we've managed to completely forget.

      The historical and archaeological record: The Memory Code: The Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Other Ancient Monuments by Dr. Lynne Kelly

      A variety of methods and teaching examples: Memory Craft: Improve Your Memory with the Most Powerful Methods in History by Dr. Lynne Kelly

    1. Similar lists of 100 words had been in circulation well before Celtis, however, those were not alphabetically designed.
    2. In the Ars memorandi noua secretissima, published in 1500 or 1501,20 Jodocus Weczdorff de Triptis (Weimar) inserted an alphabetical list of words, similar to that of Celtis, but he simply suggested that it could be used as a memory house without any scope for our private associations. Moreover, the alphabetic table of Celtis was included in the famous Margarita philosophica nova of Gregor Reisch, which was probably the most popular handbook of the artes scholars in the fi rst two decades of the 16th century.

      Books on memory that used Celtes' trick

    3. The closest analogue to this nude couple can be found in the work of Jacobus Publicius: a similar woodcut appears in the 1485 edition of his Oratoriae artis epitoma for the fi rst time (fi gure 6).42 However, Publicius does not explain the meaning of that image at all, a phenomenon that is restricted to this one picture in his book. The lack of explanation for these enigmatic images raised the value of the lectures of the professor and at the same time kept the secrecy of the ars.
    4. “The Art of Memory in Late Medieval East Central Europe (Bohemia, Hungary, Poland): An Anthology,” co-written by Lucie Doležalová, Rafał Wójcik and myself.
    5. Similar antropomorphic imagines were designed by Johannes Romberch von Host in his Con-gestorium artifi ciosae memoriae,published for the fi rst time in 1520. He associated the declention of nouns to body parts: if we want remember the word “smith” in the nominative case, we should mark him with a blister on his head, in the accusative with a blister on the chest, in the vocative on the belly, etc.; the singular forms are supposed to be dressed up, while the plurals are nude.

      Memory methods for Latin Grammar that could be interesting.

    6. Although Celtis rejected the use of such fi gurative let-ters and he promoted his own alphabetic-associative system instead, still, Cusanus copied both methods in his treatise. However, he only copies the words of the mne-monic alphabet of Celtis but not the associative method itself. The fi rst fi ve elements of Celtis (in the work of Cusanus: abbas, eques, illuminator, organista, usurarius) are not associative topoi anymore, but only the scheme of a ready-made mental book (liber mentalis).
    7. The criticism of Celtis turns against the entire tradition of 15th century art of memory, but particularly against the teachings of Jacobus Publicius,11 whose Oratoriae artis epito-mata he had excerpted both in his summary of the Ciceronian rhetoric and the treatise on letter writing.
    8. The only exception is the letter A, which appears in the list – unlike the other vowels – and contains fi ve words beginning with the fi ve vowels: a – abbas (abbot), e – eques (knight), i – institor (tax-collector), o – offi cialis (ecclesiastical judge), and u – usurarius (usurer).

      Here he's interestingly removed the vowels, which is certainly reminiscent of the later Major System structure in at least some respect.

    9. Cusanus, being a teacher in mathematics, imagines a more abstract, almost geometri-cal, scheme for the memory houses in which he combined the method of Publicius with the alphabet of Celtis: the images should be contained in three types of houses.
    10. Celtis advises his readers to memorise things with the aid of the alphabet, because by “keeping the natural order” of the letters (servata earundem naturali ordine), the elements or members of our material can be easily retained by memory. According to the ideas presented by Celtis, under each letter of the alphabet one should memorise fi ve words that begin with the same letter, and these could be the images that belong to the locus, i.e. to the letter itself.
    11. As Celtis said, “it helps the memory a great deal, if someone knows the things of the world,”37 and Valentinus followed this advice when he refi lled the table of Celtis with meanings of his own.

      This seems to be very common practice in the modern art as many writers suggest using or modifying techniques so that they suit your experience and lived memory. If a different key word comes to you more quickly, then why not use that instead of one supplied by the creator of the system.

      There's also an echoing of this in Beniowski's idea of notions in "A Handbook of Phrenotypics" on the closeness of ideas.

    12. Stabbing one-self with a sword is a typical ‘surprise’ element in 15-16th century mnemotechnics. One can fi nd the same motif in the anonymous fi gurative Gospel (ca. 1470, Figu-rae Evangeliorum), e.g. in the second image of the Gospel of Marc (fi gure 4),40 or in the Logica memorativa of Thomas Murner (1509, fi gure 5).
    13. Konrad Celtis, Epitoma in utramque Ciceronis rhetoricam cum arte memoratiua noua, et modo epi-stolandi utilissimo (Ingolstadt: [s.n.], 1492), 14r-v. EK Inc. 444.

      want to read

    14. One of the most interesting new treatises is contained in the Epitoma in utramque Cic-eronis rhetoricam of Cornad Celtis, the ‘German archhumanist’
    1. Based on all available forms, the hypothetical proto-Celtic word may be reconstructed as *dru-wid-s (pl. *druwides) meaning "oak-knower".

      With the early history of druids going into the 4th century BCE (and keeping in mind that Stonehenge's dates go to about 1600 BCE), is it possible that the druids used trees as the basis for their mnemonics in lieu of standing stones? Thus the name oak-knower is more specific to what they were doing than we give them credit for? To an outsider unaware of their ways, their ritual memory systems would have made it seem like they worshiped the trees in ways other cultures would not have?

    1. Given technological advances and a trend to promote digital annotation by students in school, empirical findings are mixed regarding the evidence-based benefits of handwritten annotation for learning.

      There are also now digital tools like Anki, Mnemosyne, and even Amazon's notebook tools that allow highlights and annotations in books to be transferred into digital flashcards to be used for spaced reviews of knowledge and information. I suspect that even students that heavily highlight their textbooks are rarely reviewing over those highlights after-the-fact, and have generally found this to be the case when asking those I see actively doing so.

    1. The idea here is honestly atrocious. Rote memorization with a hint of spaced repetition. Ugh!

      For someone to call this the John Place method totally demeans the idea of the art of memory.

    1. I don’t think the right answer is to use something like the Mnemonic medium to memorize a cookbook’s contents. I think a likelier model is: each time you see a recipe, there’s some chance it’ll trigger an actionable “ooh, I want to make this!”, dependent on seasonality, weather, what else you’ve been cooking recently, etc. A more effective cookbook might simply resurface recipes intermittently over time, creating more opportunities for a good match: e.g. a weekly email with 5-10 cooking ideas, perhaps with some accompanying narrative. Ideally, the cookbook would surface seasonally-appropriate recipes. Seasonality would make the experience of “reading” a cookbook extend over the course of a year—a Timeful text.

      Indigenous peoples not only used holidays and other time-based traditions as a means of spaced repetition, but they also did them for just this purpose of time-based need. Winter's here and the harvest changes? Your inter-tribal rituals went over your memory palace for just those changes. Songs and dances recalled older dishes and recopies that hadn't been made in months and brought them into a new rotation.

      Anthropologists have collected examples of this specific to hunting seasons and preparations of the hunt in which people would prepare for the types of game they would encounter. Certainly they did this for feast times and seasonal diets as well. Indians in the Americas are documenting having done things like this for planting corn and keeping their corn varieties pure over hundreds of years.

    1. While calling memory “the store-house of our ideas,” John Locke recognized its limitations. On the one hand, it was an incredible source of knowledge. On the other hand, it was weak and fragile. He knew that over time, memory faded and became harder to retrieve, which made it less valuable.

      As most humanists of the time may have had incredibly well-trained memories (particularly in comparison with the general loss of the art now), this is particularly interesting to me. Having had a great memory, the real value of these writings and materials is to help their memories dramatically outlive their own lifetimes. This is particularly useful as their systems of passing down ideas via memory was dramatically different than those of indigenous peoples who had a much more institutionalized version of memory methods and passing along their knowledge.

    2. Commonplace books, during the Renaissance, were used to enhance the memory. Yeo writes, This reflected the ancient Greek and Roman heritage. In his Topica, Aristotle formulated a doctrine of ‘places’ (topoi or loci) that incorporated his ten categories. A link was soon drawn between this doctrine of ‘places’ (which were, for Aristotle, ‘seats of arguments’, not quotations from authors) and the art of memory. Cicero built on this in De Oratore, explaining that ‘it is chiefly order that gives distinctness to memory’; and Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria became an influential formulation. This stress on order and sequence was the crux of what came to be known as ‘topical memory’, cultivated by mnemonic techniques (‘memoria technica’) involving the association of ideas with visual images. These ideas, forms of argument, or literary tropes were ‘placed’ in the memory, conceived in spatial terms as a building, a beehive, or a set of pigeon holes. This imagined space was then searched for the images and ideas it contained…. In the ancient world, the practical application of this art was training in oratory; yet Cicero stressed that the good orator needed knowledge, not just rhetorical skill, so that memory had to be trained to store and retrieve illustrations and arguments of various kinds. Although Erasmus distrusted the mnemonic arts, like all the leading Renaissance humanists, he advocated the keeping of commonplace books as an aid to memory.

      I particularly love the way this highlights the phrase "'placed' in the memory" because the idea of loci as a place has been around so long that we tacitly use it as a verb so naturally in conjunction with memory!

      Note here how the author Richard Yeo manages not to use the phrase memory palace or method of loci.Was this on purpose?

    3. “In his influential De Copia (1512),” writes Professor Richard Yeo, “Erasmus advised that an abundant stock of quotations and maxims from classical texts be entered under various loci (places) to assist free-flowing oratory.” Arranged under ‘Heads’ and recorded as ‘common-places’ (loci communes), these commonplace books could be consulted for speeches and written compositions designed for various situations — in the law court, at ceremonial occasions, or in the dedication of a book to a patron. Typical headings included the classical topics of honour, virtue, beauty, friendship, and Christian ones such as God, Creation, faith, hope, or the names of the virtues and vices.
    1. Looking up “ars memoria” on Wikipedia, I found a suggestion that for some people in the Middle Ages, looking at certain images was considered a means of gaining all knowledge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_memory). It quotes Yates, Art of Memory: The practitioner of the Ars Notoria gazed at figures or diagrams curiously marked and called 'notae' whilst reciting magical prayers. He hoped to gain in this way knowledge, or memory, of all the arts and sciences, a different 'nota' being provided for each discipline. The Ars Notoria is perhaps a descendant of the classical art of memory, or of that difficult branch of it which used the shorthand notae. It was regarded as a particularly black kind of magic and was severely condemned by Thomas Aquinas.

      I'm intrigued by the word shorthand in this setting along with the idea of notoria or notae, but I don't hold much hope...

    2. Later in the thread just cited, John Meador quoted another text, 1594, attesting to something more astounding: ...two especial uses, I have often exercised this art for the better help of my own memory, and the same as yet has never failed me. Although I have heard some of Master Dickson, his schollers, that have prooved such cunning Cardplayers hereby, that they could tell the course of all the Cards and what every gamester had in his hand. So ready we are to turn an honest and commendable invention into craft and cousenage." -Hugh Platt: The Jewell House of Art and Nature 1594 This art, or at least its claims, goes somewhat beyond remembering what cards have been played: they actually can use it to know what the other players have in their hand, before playing the cards. Platt considers this a kind of cheating (usually "cozenage", from "cozen", first use 1573, probably from the Italian cozzone, horse trader, per http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cozen).
    3. In his play Il Candelaio he mentions the tarot: an innkeeper asks a scoundrel in his establishment if he likes to play tarot; the scoundrel replies ”A questo maldetto gioco non posso vincere, per che ho una pessima memoria”. (“At this cursed game I cannot win, because I have a terrible memory”)
    1. In 1887, Twain crossed paths with Professor Loisette a ‘memory doctor’ who made a living peddling a system of memory techniques bearing his name. Inductees into the “Loisette system” were sworn to secrecy, and charged the modern equivalent of five hundred dollars to learn the “natural laws of memory” which the doctor claimed to have discovered. Twain enrolled in a several-week-long course and at first was deeply impressed, even going so far as to publish a testimonial in favour of the Loisette system.
    2. In 1885, he patented “Mark Twain’s Memory Builder: A Game for Acquiring and Retaining All Sorts of Facts and Dates.”
    1. Writing on Gustave Moreau, Proust detects a universe of analogies, paintings that document an “intoxication of mind” in which reality is a “mysterious country” of unlike objects “resembl[ing] one another.” Describing Rembrandt, he finds an exacting individualism visible in a manipulation of light “that bathes [Rembrandt’s] portraits and his pictures [in] the very light of his thought […] a personal light in which we view things when we are thinking for ourselves.” Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin was probably Proust’s favorite painter. He sees in Chardin a vision “combining things and people in those rooms which are more than a thing and perhaps more than a person, rooms which are the scene of their joint lives, the law of affinities and contrarieties […] the shrine of their past.”
    1. Experienced practitioners [...] don't have to plod step by step through such a listing of concepts and questions. When they encounter a set of ideas or engage in debate, they can speed through the familiar relationships and spot at a glance the concepts that haven't been taken into account and the questions that haven't been asked. When they work out their own arguments or ideas, they can look at each point from a galaxy of different perspectives that might never come to mind without the help of the combinatorial system and the mental training it provides. Like the Lullian adepts of the Renaissance, they supplemented the natural capacities of their minds with the systematic practices of the combinatorial art. This, in turn, the art of memory seeks to do with the natural capacities of the human memory.  De Umbris Idearum, 'Working Bruno's Magic', p. 164
    1. Further, as stated, by merely glancing at the pictorially indicated recipe of the present invention the cook can ascertain at a glance the required ingredients, can ascertain whether such ingredients are on hand, and, if not, the needed articles will be more easily remembered in purchasing the days supply of groceries, etc.

      an example in the wild of visual memory being stronger than other forms.

    2. Fourteenth-century recipe collections that have survived to today, such as Viandier pour appareiller toutes manières de viandes, Libre de sent sovi, Daz bûch von gûter spîse, and Forme of Cury, were written by professional cooks to use as an aide-mémoire for themselves or other professional cooks.
    1. Once again, Atiyah writes very clearlyand sensibly on this matter (while acknowledging his debt to earlier great mathematicianssuch as Poincar ́e and Weyl). He makes the point (see for example [A2]) that so muchmathematics is produced that it is not possible for all of it to be remembered. The processesof abstraction and generalization are therefore very important as a means of making senseof the huge mass of raw data (that is, proofs of individual theorems) and enabling at leastsome of it to be passed on. The results that will last are the ones that can be organizedcoherently and explained economically to future generations of mathematicians. Of course,some results will be remembered because they solve very famous problems, but even these,if they do not fit into an organizing framework, are unlikely to be studied in detail by morethan a handful of mathematicians.

      bandwidth in mathematics is an important concept

      We definitely need ways of simplifying and encoding smaller cases into bigger cases to make the abstractions easier to encapsulate and pass on so that new ground can be broken

    1. In any case Quintilian makes it clear that non-alphabetic signs can be employed as memory images, and even goes on to mention how 'shorthand' signs (notae) can be used to signify things that would otherwise be impossible to capture in the form of a definite image (he gives "conjunctions" as an example).[36]
    2. The Art of Signs (Latin Ars Notoria) is also very likely a development of the graphical mnemonic. Yates mentions Apollonius of Tyana and his reputation for memory, as well as the association between trained memory, astrology and divination.[37] She goes on to suggest It may have been out of this atmosphere that there was formed a tradition which, going underground for centuries and suffering transformations in the process, appeared in the Middle Ages as the Ars Notoria, a magical art of memory attributed to Apollonius or sometimes to Solomon. The practitioner of the Ars Notoria gazed at figures or diagrams curiously marked and called 'notae' whilst reciting magical prayers. He hoped to gain in this way knowledge, or memory, of all the arts and sciences, a different 'nota' being provided for each discipline. The Ars Notoria is perhaps a descendant of the classical art of memory, or of that difficult branch of it which used the shorthand notae. It was regarded as a particularly black kind of magic and was severely condemned by Thomas Aquinas.[38]
    1. “The margins are full of images of disembodied body parts, plants, animals, even portraits of cross-eyed kings, which relate to the main body of text and act as a mnemonic for the reader,” Greene says. “Even though you open the manuscript knowing it is a medical text designed for practical use, nothing quite prepares you for seeing a disembodied leg, posterior, or penis pointing at salient parts of the text!”

      memory illuminated manuscripts

    1. we tend to believe things more if they rhyme.

      Useful for not only framing, but likely works for memory and repetition as well.

    2. The stories added meaning that couldn’t be matched by facts and figures about the items for sale. Meaning can be very difficult to pull off in design, but sto-ries create cognitive fluency around meaning. Our minds love narratives because they love patterns; stories are like really well-packaged patterns. Beginning, middle, and end. Connect-ing that pattern to an object or action in your design can be achieved, in part, by making sure your design accommodates story—whether in the metaphorical sense of how the page is structured (i.e., the page has a clear beginning, middle, and end) or the more literal sense of actually making sure the design leaves room for text that tells a story.

      This can also be leveraged to help improve one's memory.



    1. Why, though, do we not romanticize our preservation? The same matter of chance, of the fleeting nature of fate exists on the other side of the coin. What would have happened if we were better rested, if our energy was better preserved, if we managed our time and said what we really mean? Rarely do we approach whether we get eight hours of sleep with the same guilt as we do whether or not we attended a party, even when, according to sleep expert Matthew Walker, sleep deprivation prevents the brain from remembering information, creating new memories, and sustaining emotional well-being.

      A great observation!

    1. a roughly 240-page medieval codex written in an indecipherable language, brimming with bizarre drawings of esoteric plants, naked women, and astrological symbols. Known as the Voynich manuscript, it defies classification, much less comprehension.

      Something I hadn't thought of before, but which could be highly likely given the contents: What if the manuscript is a personal memory palace? Without supporting materials, it's entirely likely that what's left on the page is a substrate to which the author attached the actual content and not having the other half, the entire enterprise is now worthless?

    2. All we know for certain, through forensic testing, is that the manuscript likely dates to the 15th century, when books were handmade and rare.

      This may provide some additional proof that it's a memory aid in the potential form of a notebook or commonplace book. What were the likelihoods of these being more common that other books/texts? What other codes were used at the time? Was the major system or a variant in use at the time?

    1. Child considered that folk ballads came from a more democratic time in the past when society was not so rigidly segregated into classes, and the "true voice" of the people could therefore be heard. He conceived "the people" as comprising all the classes of society, rich, middle, and poor, and not only those engaged in manual labor as Marxists sometimes use the word.
    1. Celtic Tree Alphabet

      Just this name gives me ideas

    2. The Isle of Man has five inscriptions. One of these is the famous inscription at Port St. Mary (503) which reads DOVAIDONA MAQI DROATA ᚛ᚇᚑᚃᚐᚔᚇᚑᚅᚐ ᚋᚐᚊᚔ ᚇᚏᚑᚐᚈᚐ᚜ or 'Dovaidona son of the Druid'.

      An indication of links of these stones and inscriptions to Druid culture.

    1. "These people chose to erect these great stones very precisely within the landscape and in relation to the astronomy they knew. They invested a tremendous amount of effort and work to do so. It tells us about their strong conn