Thursday, August 4, 2011

Moonwalking With Einstein - Architecture Hunting

Moonwalking With Einstein is an interesting little "documentary" book about a man that wins a memory competition. While it does not try to be a "how-to" authority on how memory works, it is an enjoyable, casual stroll down "mnemonic lane." A couple of highlights that I enjoyed:

-Memory is a skill. People that memorize decks of cards aren't superhuman, they have simply perfected a skill.

-To remember more, think in a more memorable way (Having a mnemonic system in place to "encode" information on-the-fly is one of the extreme ways of doing this)

-Architectural hunting. Because our brains are very good at remembering locations, actual physical locations are a relatively"stable" place where memories can be stored. Although he did not state to do the following, I got the idea to simply walk around with a camera (Or video camera) and "map out" a location for future reference. The camera is merely to ensure that my memory is stable (Along with adding pictures to Supermemo). While scoping out a location, think of where "hooks" exist for you to place objects in the future.

For example, when walking around a small organic food store near a friend's house, I put my cell phone up to my ear while it was recording a video, and I faked a conversation in Japanese. I walked around the store, making sure I understood the general layout of the place. While doing this, I was looking for good places to "hook" information. I think I managed to get 8 to 10 memory hooks, and this was from a single small store that I will probably never visit again.

If this book has inspired me to do anything, it is to constantly hunt for memory architecture. It's not very time-consuming and the number of places you can use to store memories architecture is virtually endless.