A Modern Take on an Old Memnic


     Prerequisite: What the hell is the Method of Loci? Short Version: A mnemonic memorization technique as old as the ancient Greeks and is still used today. Especially by memorization champions. So what the heck does this have to do with anything? Well, when your studying and you have particularly long lists of items to remember, it helps to have a secret weapon. I stumbled upon this memorization technique in the book Making it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. A fascinating book to help understand learning from a research-supported base. The essence is that you take a path in your mind through a very familiar place, like your house. On this imaginary path you attach ideas or things you want to remember to objects or interesting points. Most effectively, the ideas should all be related and the path through the place should be continuous. Now you could have several paths in the same place, such as through different rooms where each room is a different list of things to memorize. This same tactic was also made famous by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his Sherlock Holmes novels, referred to as his "Mind Palace".

     So being armed with this memorization technique, I embarked upon a way to automate this method to be used quickly. I settled upon one of my all-time favorite past times. GAMING! The Fallout Series, with its extensive locations in the newer games make it very easy to find areas where I can make the memorization "paths". Starting with a list of items I need to memorize, for example Organic Chemistry Reactions, I will find a location in game where I can create a memorization "path". Such a path would be for example the bar area in the Goodsprings Saloon in Fallout New Vegas. As I walk in game through the bar, I screenshot various objects on a continuous path. The number of screenshots I take simply corresponds to the number of items on my list. Because the path I screenshot is continuous, and the ideas interrelated it allows me to explore the room when I am trying to remember an idea. Where Mathematica comes in, I wrote some code that takes a list of screenshots I take in game, crops them and superimposes text over these images creating a flash card set. The easiest flashcard platform is Quizlet. One side has the questions or terms I type up and the other side is the pictures I created in Mathematica with the answers to those questions or terms superimposed over it. Because I can upload these pictures in Quizlet and make flash cards out of them, its an incredibly effective memorization and learning tool. Its not very likely you have any clue what I've just said. So here is a link to one of my Quizlet Sets and you can see for yourself. This is a path through the Saloon mentioned earlier, a continuous path in a familiar location in the game I remember well.

The Mathematica Notebook can be found HERE

© 2016 Zachary G Wolfe -- Remember to turn your brain off for a reboot sometimes...