I hope this is the right place to post this…
I have been reading a lot about the Self-Enhancing Master Memory Matrix (not my first time doing so). I decided I’d like to try using it again, for more permanent bits of knowledge. For temporary memorization - or any kind until now - I’ve always used the Method of Loci, and I understand that many find the method to be more effective and generally simpler the SEM3. Considering the nature of my experience and the aforementioned reviews of others, I thought I might try a combination of what I’ve read about SEM3 and what I know about Memory Palaces.
Every resource I’ve been able to find online uses some sort of ‘category’ axis as the first part of a slot’s index, and then uses something in that category as the second part. This usually ends up giving a 10 x 10 matrix made up of abstract concepts and related objects/people.
Now, I’ve always liked the PAO (Person-Action-Object) system when it comes to memorizing things. It occurred to me that a variation - PA (Person-Action) in this case - could be applied to the SEM3 matrix. I know this isn’t the first time something like this has been done, but I haven’t experienced it in this form before, so I’ll describe what I’m working with.
Rather than a 10 x 10 category/object matrix, I put together a 26 x 26 matrix that uses the letters of the alphabet along each axis. Then I went through on a spreadsheet and assigned each cell the name of a person who has the initials given. For example, in the cell AE (row A column E), I put Albert Einstein. For RH (row R column H) I used Robin Hood. This is a total of 676 names. An intimidating number, but it really isn’t that hard to remember them when you can practically deduce them from the initials. Some of the names took a bit of searching through my memory - and occasionally the internet - to find. It isn’t as problematic if you allow yourself to use friends and family members, which should give you a wider variety of familiar names.
This all accounts for the surface of the matrix, but the SEM3 system goes further than that and assigns each cell 100 numbers (0 - 99) which are encoded according to the major system. As great as the major system is, I already decided that I was going to forego the numerically derived nouns and work with two things: people and actions. At this point, I’m missing actions.
By now I’m sure you’ll have caught on to my love of the alphabet. For each person, representing a position in the 26 x 26 matrix, I will attach an action. I decided to base these actions on, you guessed it… The alphabet! This means that each letter of the alphabet now corresponds with an action. For example, A might be ‘attack’, or H might be ‘hug’.
So now we have a 3D matrix, size 26 x 26 x 26. Each cell position is easily represented by a person of given initials, and the spot within that cell is given by the action the person performs. I mentioned the PAO system… So where are the objects? When you decide what to store in a given spot, that’s where your object comes from. For example, if I want to remember something, and the memory is represented by an elephant, I would stick the elephant in there.
I found the images weren’t all that vivid when I was running through a few of the possible associations, and later I realized the problem. I didn’t have any set location for these scenes to take place in. Once I gave myself a stage - at the moment I’m working with a fountain in a park - it all became much easier to ‘see’. This ‘stage’ is probably the biggest similarity to the standard Method of Loci. It’s also the one that makes the biggest difference in solidifying the memories, in my limited experience.
Alright, example time:
Again, we’ll assume I’m memorizing something that involves an elephant.
I first have to choose which cell to put it under - the equivalent of deciding which drawer to stick a file in. If I’ve already dedicated a cell to whatever category I’m memorizing, say CA, then I’ll use the person for that cell. In this case the person might be Captain America. (On a side note: my method for remembering which person I placed a group of facts under is to imagine the person somehow involved with the memorized facts, and then make sure that the image comes to mind when I think of either the person or the fact-group.) So I have my elephant grouped with the other facts it goes with under Captain America. Now I assign it a place among its fellow memories. To continue the filing cabinet analogy, this would be like deciding which tab to place the file under. In this case, I will give it the slot J. J is juggle, the way I have things set up, so that is the action that I will assign it.
Now any time I need to access that memory, I simply look for it under the correct category, represented by Captain America, and immediately its scene should come to mind. Captain America juggling elephants.
Okay, this is all well and good… But why not just use PAO and a memory palace? Honestly, you could do that instead and you would be just fine. I personally have trouble laying out palaces. I have to have them planned out to the inch before I feel like they’re ready to use. Which method you choose is all about personal preference. Not to mention that this way does make it easier to put together 17,576 well-organized associations, ready to be used.
I know, streamlined stuff tends to be frowned upon, but I think any sort of system can be effective when you put a few personal touches on it.
I’m only just beginning to use this method, but I’ve already found it to be easy to work with in theory. It may just be me, though. Not everybody’s brain works as well with the same systems, after all. I would appreciate any feedback anybody has regarding their thoughts on this ‘Alphabetical PA Matrix’. Any suggestions are also welcome.
Either way, just thought I’d let you guys know what I’m up to. Sorry if I’ve over-complicated my description. I tend to do that…