Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Supermemo for the iPhone is out

I have an iPod Touch, and although the learning history cannot be carried over from the iPod to the computer, I have been experimenting with the iPhone version of Supermemo. It is available for free at the App Store.

Although I don't think I would enjoy using it for all of my repetitions (I usually have between 300-400 every day), I am interested in using it brush up on a few subjects for free. After I know the iPhone flashcards fairly well I can recreate the same flashcards in my master Supermemo database and they can be further remembered with little effort. It's like loosening up a pickle jar for later usage.

I think the "add x number of new flashcards every day" is a nice feature to prevent an overload of new items.


  1. I disagree on the way you mention "for free" here. While SM helps minimize the cost of learning substantially, the lack of a way to transfer repetition history from/to the desktop version means that recreating the items with default parameters will probably mean a superflous number of repetitions for those items (=cost). I'm afraid SM can make wrong conclusions about my ability to recall those items; this is the reason behind my decision to only use the desktop version. As I see it, transferring recently learned items with "blanked" rep. history is akin to re-remembering those items in SM. Perhaps fiddling with a new category with different default FI or priority might help cope with excess repetitions, but I'd rather make this uncomplicated...

    I just discovered your blog. It will be interesting to read on novel ways and new insights deriving from SM usage.


  2. Very often I have had a flashcard "bounce around" in Supermemo for (What feels like) a few weeks, and no matter what I do I cannot recall the information. But after seeing that same flashcard SO MANY TIMES, at some point it "clicks," and the information is now memorable. That flashcard starts to behave just like another piece of easy-to-recall information within SM. I guess this is an example of "brute force" familiarity...?

    Certain subjects I know I am not good at (Learning Russian, for example), so if I were to put the information into Supermemo, I know that it would "bounce around," perhaps getting reset a couple of times before I was familiar enough to recall it correctly.
    My main thought is "Could not some of that "brute forced" familiarity be "outsourced" to another more accessible means?" Use the iPhone SM to get familiar with a subject through trial-and-error, and once you "have a grasp" of the subject, put it into your main Supermemo database?

    Granted, I have yet to actually do this myself, so the idea might be a big waste of time in the end. But I'm always on the lookout for "shortcuts" for learning stuff, like a pirate looking for treasure!

  3. If I understand the point, outsourcing "exploratory" topics for review to another device could be an alternative to increasing the number of repetitions in desktop SM through fiddling with the learning parameters. This is an interesting idea, because assuming you operate your computer and mobile device in different contexts (different levels of focus, locations, external stimuli, mental states, etc.) could induce you to look at the material from different perspectives, hopefully increasing its likeliness to "sink in." While the review and repetition process alone helps you accomplish this "diversity" by bringing seemingly disconnected elements to you, your proposal might be a way to enrich it even more by increasing the variety of input states. The waste of time might be yielded in the end by the balance of excess repetitions vs increase in potentiation. While this balance can't be measured precisely (lacking synchronized repetition history) I don't see it very relevant in the case I opted to outsource highly inspirational or enjoyable material, so that the potential "waste" is compensated by the joy of reviewing it. Hope to continue reading about your experiences.

  4. What a nicely articulated analysis. You pretty much said it. It might be a dead end, but if it isn't, a shortcut has been found!
    It's like grinding in an MMORPG; getting EXP is the goal, but if I can make any of the involved processes easier, I'll try it. I guess in this case getting familiar with the material would be 'making the enemies slightly weaker' so they are easier to defeat... or whatever...