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May 12th, 2020
How is knowledge categorized? Of course, we have encyclopedias and dictionaries, but how is knowledge categorized on an individual level?
We take notes, we highlight, we summarize, we create folders, collections, collages and for the most part..
we forget all of it.
Perhaps there is an innovation in the arena of note taking that will substantially level-up our abilities to organize knowledge on an individual level. But the flip side is that we might be growing weak leaning on a crutch.
A universal principle is use it or lose it.
Tinkered Thinking’s version of this is:
Use it to boost it or lose it.
As this applies to muscles, it’s likely to apply to memory. The question of course is, how to use one’s memory. Does the mere writing down of a desirable conceptual morsel relieve our mind of any sense of obligation to remember it? Perhaps.
If you regularly have to write a list of items with quantities in order to have them on hand a few minutes later, say it’s a dozen things, it doesn’t take much time and pain to verbally list those quantities and remember them. The mind finds the way if it’s pushed in that direction. This is only to say that memory is trainable in different ways.
The Homeric bards had epics consisting of tens of thousands of lines memorized by heart. And even though it is an incredible feat of immense memory, those poems are riddled with mnemonic techniques to help the bard in that titanic task.
Here is a suggestion that has arisen during the creation of Tinkered Thinking. Many times, when an idea of what to write about pops into the mind, it is then summarized in the smallest possible unit, usually, it’s summed up as a potential title for the post. That word, or short phrase becomes a seed which collapses the entire subject, but also allows it to regrow once the time and space of a blank page is available. This has become a valuable memory exercise because the expansion of the topic is expected to stay in the brain until the time to explore it comes around.
This brings up an even more important point.
A collection of knowledge is useless if not used, and using it is the best way to winnow out the unnecessary and entrench the influence of the good.
This is one of the reasons that makes writing such a powerful tool on a personal level. It is a medium of cognitive exploration. A writer is quite literally exploring their own mind in a structured, captured way. It’s a way to figure out what you really think about something, a way to edit what you think about something, and importantly here, it’s a way to integrate new knowledge, by putting it in your own words and mixing it in with other ideas that come to mind during the process.
Writing –in this way- serves us in two ways, as a memory exercise and as an evolution engine that gives rise to new ideas..
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