The Efficiency of Different Card Memorization Systems

If you wish to discuss and use such phrases as FALSE GENERALIZATIONS then it makes no odds to me personally but, I use my name. My name is well known, not for being good at memorization but because of my level of understanding and often you make claims lately on here saying this and that is not trusted or cannot be known. You are wrong and speak when you should listen. Not trusted this and that cannot be known rubbish. It can be and is known. We, not just me, know some things for certain.

Incidentally, I can prove all the things I say on here as scientifically as any scientific institution without and association with making money via publishing deals etc. You on the other hand, could be trusted in such a way and could be Daniel Tammet/Corney as you do not reveal who you are. You are welcome to use your own name rather than hide behind a pseudonym if you so wish.

It seems to me that you try and contradict people in this site on a regular basis and a separate discussion already exits regarding you in particular doing this. Better I think for you to just improve you knowledge or not be of such an attitude to pretend to understand and give advice on the things you aren’t really familiar with.

I think you’re spot-on.

It surprises me how many people work on their images, change their systems, improve their images, etc. yet fail to work on their loci to the same degree.

Oh, yes, Boris does sorry. That’s what I meant Josh. He has a simple system for one deck than for marathon cards.

I think I misinterpreted Boris’ quote, and then I missed the part where DoubleHelix embedded the correction to my mistake in a quote. :~

Yes, I couldn’t agree more Graham. I think people are quick to forget that is in itself a system. When I fist started to meet other mnemonists the first thing I would always ask would be how many locations do you have ? The responses I got surprised me on some occasions.

I think you most likely know Dr. Yip Swe Chooi from some competition when you were both active in competition. I had one such surprising response from him.

He said he had about 10, 000 locations. I politely explained that this was not only unlikely but, that it’s virtually impossible. I proceeded to explain that what I mean by location was something the size of a room as in the term Roman Room. To have such a large number is reasonable but, they won’t be familiar.

I went on to explain that, I had many jobs in different factories in the past and would frequently change my job. This gave me lots of machinery and a vast amount of locations compared to most people. At some point, I was a post man for a year and, after a decade of factory work I had a career change and spent most of the next decade canvassing so, I was walking around different towns all the time. This gives me an obvious advantage in the same way as a London taxi drivers in terms of locations.

He, as a person with the title of Doctor would very unlikely have changed jobs for the sake of it at the rate that I used to and, as such, it would be inconceivable that he would have as many locations as this that were all familiar.

Dr. Yip went on to explain that under these terms, he has 3-4,000 locations. This was clearly the correct answer in the context of what I was trying to find out. The context I usually give is a location is a room or some place that is the size of at least a small room on the average.

Personally, I have 2,000 locations in the context of a location being a room or some place of equivalent size. This is obviously more than most but, only half of what Dr. Yip or Dominic has.

I asked the same of Ben in 2008 and I was really shocked to find that he only had 500. As I think you know, he knows these locations very well and that’s the important thing. I say only, he became World Memory Champion for the third time later that year so, it’s obviously a lot still.

As it happens, even though I don’t ask this question anywhere near as often as I used to, I did happen to ask Dr. Yips protege this same question today. Andy Fong, who, like Dr. Yip has also memorized a dictionary has significantly less than Dr. Yip. Actually, we haven’t finished the conversation but, in the same terms I estimate Andy’s number of room sized locations as pretty much the same as mine but, he measure them in the same way as Dr. Yip…

I always make this distinction for a reason. I spent many years studying mnemonics but, I knew there were these people that had something I didn’t. I knew it existed as my Grandfather had stuck his car number plate in my head as a child. I literally read it once and I still remember it thirty years later. When I did eventually find it I already knew it was the single most important memory system and I considered it would be so before I even found it as a system. I say found, I didn’t work it out. I spent many years trying to and failed. Eventually I found it in a book and two memory courses all in the space of one month by three authors.

One thing I know from working in these factories and driving forklift trucks is that, no matter what memory system you do use, you cannot fit a square peg in a round hole. A shelf will only store a box up to a certain size and a location is no different.

I often teach people memory and this is by far the biggest problem and it’s not generally covered by memory books in great detail.

Typically, someone will ask me for some help. Usually, they understand a 100 digit system and are either in the process or making one or they already have done.

It’s a big disappointment to some of them when I do start to teach them because, if they have started and they have used their locations in the same way as Doctor Yip and Andy Fong, the first thing I do is to spot it then dismantle it. This is something they are very reluctant to allow me to do. But, it’s something they end up happy with having done it.

Once they have taken apart say, 50 locations after I have explained this is really on about 10 locations, I tell them to make more. Once they have made more, I go through them with them. They have to describe the layout of the room to me or, if it’s outside, the view, the material the floor is made of, what the bath is made of in the bathroom and so on.

Once I can understand the locations myself, I can put images in that I create but, using people that they know. So, I already know that the objects I use will be strong and I give them guidance on the type of people to use because they will be familiar to them. Hence the word family as well. In doing so, I will number their locations for them and they have to imagine it. Sometimes, they don’t know what they are memorizing because I throw in images from different systems.

So, in the space of ten locations I will typically number them with ten images but, the images may come from different systems so just ten numbers will be perhaps, the Major system, the Dominic system, the Number Rhyme system or the Number Shape system.

Like clockwork they always recognize that I am instructing them to number their locations because they will recognize the pattern which is the same or similar to whichever book they have read. Then, I explain that they can use any system and this is why I vary the images. To teach them that the systems are interactive and that they all work equally well but, one system is not equal to the others.

That system as you know, is the Roman Room system. I spend a great deal of time with them in the beginning just memorizing ten numbers. Ten single digit numbers will usually take me about four hours to teach. Obviously I could stick a ten digit number in their head in next to no time but, I prefer to keep their focus on what’s important.

Dr. Yip and Andy are obviously excellent mnemonists and I steer people in a different direction from their system but, I do it for a reason. It’s not the best way to start off. It works and it works extremely well but, if someone learns by using parts or a room as they do, they soon come unstuck when faced with something unexpected they have to memorize as the necessary images won’t fit into the allocated space. Shrinking images is obviously one solution but, somethings are not easy to see when this is done and it is also quite hard to do. Better to learn the other way around and use this maximum storage system they use after gaining experience. Then, you can do both if you want.

After spending considerable time with people teaching them how to interact with any given location they sometimes confess that one of the numbers makes no sense to them. This is like a red herring number to them. I sometimes put in a number that has no connection to the image or person. I do this to emphasize the power of the system of location. They pretty much instantly realize that, the object does not need to resemble the number in any way because we have created and association and familiarity by using the location.

Anything can be connected as you know and many of my numbers are completely arbitrary but, they are very clear images of people and things. I don’t really care if there is no connection between my images and numbers because I will make a connection by using the power of the location.

My normal recommendation is something I pinched off the Government. 5 a day like fruit and veg. I ask people to make 5 locations per day. Often, they want to do more but, the rule is, if you make 10 today, you still have to make 5 tomorrow. This means that there is no excuse for anyone I teach to say, I didn’t have time. If they don’t have time to do that, I don’t have time to teach them.

This is ongoing and after the first episode/s or numbering, with me telling them a lot about why they remember the images we have created together and teaching them how to interact with seemingly empty or inert locations, they have to memorize 5 a day as well. So, they have to do a little bit of thinking each day because I have taken the stabilizers off the bike so-as-to-speak. This focuses their mind on just 5 numbers but, whereas Ben Pridmore would have had thousands of interactions with each number of his, they have not, so, they need to ‘get familiar’ or ‘make associations’. They have the locations to do it first and can put the new numbers in those locations thus, they are growing their memory organically. This also removes the fear of ‘running our of places’.

Just doing 5 a day seems pointless to them usually as they have generally read a book that gives them big hopes of some massive thing they intend to memorize. However, this focus serves a purpose. Firstly, it makes them have no reason to put it off. Doing this small amount each day is an easy load for the brain to cope with but, the rules of Ebbinghaus still apply so, in a short time, they can become really good. I do have speed exercises for them but, this is not really important. The only reason I give them instruction on how to speed up is because there’s a good chance they will think they know enough by this point and not see any new improvement.

It’s a hard thing for many to grasp that by spending more time thinking about something in as many ways as possible makes something familiar and gives them new associations they can attach things to.

I think of it like this. If someone can write 5 locations per day, they have enough to become World Memory Champion within 100 days. Realistically, this isn’t going to happen but, it’s enough to explain the point when they want to jump ahead before they are ready. IT’s not the system, it the familiarity with the system and familiarity with the locations.

By reading about someone like Ben, they may want to use a Major 1,000 system. I steer them away from this like the plague. Their reasoning is usually that the best mnemonists in the World use this system. What I tell them is that, if they want to use the Major system then, use the Major 100 system first. Usually I get some resistance to this with statements like, I would be better off learning the bigger system because over time I will have spent more time using that system and this is quite logical.

Usually, this can be explained with the single digit system being compared to the alphabet. A person may want to learn to speed read or write a book but, first they need to ‘master’ the alphabet. Dominic O’Brien uses a simpler system than this and Wang Feng uses a simpler system than Dominic. The one thing they have in common is that they have both mastered these systems.

If a person masters the Major 100 system first then, when they have mastered it and find it a bit tedious because they are memorizing marathon events in training or something then, it does make sense for them not to get bored or risk getting images mixed up due to the quantity and similarity or material so, it’s pretty easy to stick a zero in front or every number up to 99 to make the Major 100 the for first 100 of the Major 1,000. Instantly they will notice that they are still awesome at the first 100 and complete rubbish at the last 900.

For anyone that doesn’t go around memorizing a couple of thousand digits in one sitting, the 100 systems are not worth changing. Why learn a 1,000 digit system if you only ever memorize lists of 100 things or even 500 things ? It’s not until you memorize an amount against the clock that is large enough to cause confusion by mixing up images that it become worth it or if you don’t mix up the images as Boris does and are able to do such vast memorization and just get fed up of seeing the same old images.

So, given all this, it’s clear that the important thing about systems is knowing which system to study. To me this is obvious nowadays, it’s the location system.

I think that even if I sat down now, I could write another 2,000 locations that I have actually been to by using Google Earth but, for most people, they will not have actually been to this many locations. I am 40 years you so, my age means that I will have four times more locations than a ten year old and two times more locations as a twenty year old on the average but, I have seen the locations more times.

Every time we visit a location we are hard-wired to remember it and I happen to have visited lots but, some people have stayed in the same jobs for years. People who like walking may have many more outside locations than people who like talking who may have many locations inside friends houses. A person that has had the same office at work for 20 years will know that office better than a person like me who might have changed jobs. Changing jobs is more common with young people and I was the same.

My point is this. We all have a limit. We can exceed this limit but, at any given point in time each of us is only ‘familiar’ with a given number of locations. We can ‘make’ ourselves familiar with new ones by visiting them or fake it by using Google Earth and it will work, albeit to a lesser extent.

As we talked of Boris already, he happens to be a prime example of extending his familiarity. One year I was wandering around London making locations. I watch a lot of politics and news so, it made sense to me to take this walk around the places I see most often on television. Places like Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace are always on the television so, I knew these would be reinforced constantly even though I rarely go to London.

I walked around first and decided that I knew the layout of the journey I wanted. Then, I walked around the journey again. It was about 100 locations of a large size with some later alteration with Google Earth. I then walked around these repeatedly. I walked it backwards as well. It was a roasting hot day and I could have easily made many more locations but, I wanted to make good ones rather than make say 500 locations for the sake of it. If I wanted to get poor quality locations, i’d have done it from Google Earth. I remember sweating because it was so hot. I remember how I felt, I remember talking to a policeman and asking him what a building was called. I remember the coffee I had outside Parliament. The locations are to me ‘emotionalized’.

What’s this got to do with Boris ? Well, after I finished, i went back to the beginning of my journey. There, I bumped into Boris. Boris had been doing exactly the same thing as me. I hadn’t bumped into him though because he had used the same starting point but, gone in a different direction. I would have no idea where to go in Berlin but, it must be like London. London is full of memorable landmarks so, I advised Boris that, if he gets the chance, he would be better off going the opposite way to the places I had been as he would be more likely to see these on television for reinforcement in future. Not surprisingly, Boris was already aware of this and had already constructed a journey in exactly this place on a previous visit to London. He knew how important it was as well.

By the way, Graham, I like your posts. I tried to work out who you were before you revealed your name and had you narrowed down to two people by using the rankings from things you said. Hopefully you will get back to competitions some day. Even if you don’t fancy getting all hard-core again like some of them, there’s always space for arbiters with competition experience.

Dai Griffiths, very interesting post… So interesting that it made me rethink what I do. You mentioned locations, but I sensed from your post that the system I create the locations is maybe different. Maybe.

I take photos of each journey. Average number of stops is 50. Each stop has some “outstanding” object I associate images to when I’m memorizing.

I post here three consecutive images. I start the journey with the first image, then I move to the others. In this case, I call “location” journey of 60 stops. This particular journey contains only objects from the park. As I see, I understand the location in some weird way.

For example, if I wanted to memorize number 4347, I would imagine ram (43) as is banging his head to the rock (47) placed on that white square you can see in the first picture. Is this bad? But I can say this works for me.

PS: I don’t want to make this “personal advice”. Maybe I’m not alone who does the same thing.

I think you do it in the way I mean NIghwalker. With those same locations that you have, I would have each of them as the location as well. They look really good. What I also do it to make sure the surrounding are is also a part of the location but, you have plenty of space there so, you don’t really need to think about it in this case.

Where I do think about it is, for instance, where two objects like those are directly next to each other. An example would be outside a post office at the end of a street where I lived once. There is a post box and it is directly next to a telephone box. Both could be used as separate locations and it would work efficiently but, I use them as one. This way, if I am faced with the need to create an image of two men fighting, I can fit them there without running the risk of them overlapping the next location which could happen if I had them as separate locations.

Using locations this way, I number every location. If at some point in the future I decided to do what Andy Fong has done then, it’s not to hard to break up the location into it’s constituent parts. Each of those locations can also be numbered using a different numbering system. Then, small objects can be placed in them. Many Major system images that do not involve people can make up the information because the people and action system will not fit properly into these places without overlapping the next location. If it is just object then, they can fit easily.

By the same reasoning, I never use children in my person action systems because I want the people to be of a certain height. This way, if people are behind something, I can still see their face and they won;'t get obscured by something that is as big as them. I always, always see the person’s face. Even if I have to make them turn around or take a mask off. That face will show emotion and that will make a big difference.

If you were to see Dr. Yips dictionary you will see he must have some similar way of thinking. He will ask you to pick a page number. Say that page number is 250. On page 250 each word will be numbered from 1 -13 in the left column so, he can identify exactly where he is at any given time. Personally I think it’s mad that anyone would go to this extreme but, it’s still really impressive to see someone do it.

Another reason I don’t use children is because I create some pretty sick images. I keep a detailed record of this in writing as well but, somethings are just too sickening. Pretty much everyone I know or have ever met have done some bad images in my mind. I make a conscious effort to do this using colours of things like blood since we instinctively remember these things as, they represent danger and create emotion. If we get that feeling in a location, we instinctively need to remember where this potentially dangerous location is. I decide upon the colour as I create the system. If someone has a bright red pained bedroom, I will make the colour of something not red so that it sands our so, some of my images may vary but, if I can, I will use colours that by default grab my attention. Such as the colours of dangerous animals or food.

In Britain, we didn’t eat tomatoes for a long time just because they looked like poisonous fruit to my ancestors. There is a saying that is meant to be some kind of mnemonic that doesn’t seem very mnemonic but, it makes the point. A documentary about snakes I once saw said, Red on Black stay right back. Red on Yellow, at your peril.
I keep this in mind not just with snakes but, with everything. With people, blood is often the result which takes least effort to create. Think of the colour of tigers stripes, wasps, frogs, spiders. All associated with fear if they are the right colour.

To me personally, an animal with blue skin does bot exist but, I have seen lizards like this on television so, even if they are safe, the fact that I don’t know if they are has the same effect.

Red alone is memorable enough. Especially if an animal is coloured red. Same with food. We feel a red apple is safe in Britain though so, a blue one may be poisonous. I don’t do this on the fly. I often create systems as I like to do it even when I don’t need to so, as I am writing the things down, I test them, see how hard or easy things are to ‘imagine’ before writing anything. When I hit about 50, I time myself on recognition to see if they are up to scratch. I remove slow ones or alter them to make them clearer. A blue apple is hard to imagine on the fly as are many things but, by testing this sort of thing in advance I will find a way. I’ll get someone to bite it and the look on someones face will show them as unsure as they slowly take a bite, if they are the sort of person in real life that doesn’t care, i’ll add some maggots to the apple. Some nice red and black striped ones.

Red is the best for most purposes. We associate red with pain and danger but, we also associate it with desire because we feel safe that an animal is dead and now it represents food. Meat. This mixing of emotions makes red an awesome memory tool.


thanks Dai for pointing out that you talk about me in this thread :wink:

First on the cards, I think it already has been resolved, DoubleHelix got it right.
The 20 doctors’ thing referred to 20 times exactly the same doctor - and is a description of my problem, not my solution.

Regarding locations, I guess I do it a bit differently than Dai. While in an outdoor setting like London (I lived in Reading for a year, so it is a familiar city for me), I do use bigger locations (whole tower of Big Ben as one location). I also have locations indoors where every single spot might be pretty small (like a bar of soap).

I do see, that I can fit in more information in a bigger location, BUT the limit of the size of the smaller ones does not seem to be to bas for me. I still can fit the names of all German presidents on the soap bar.

Anyway, for memory sports purposes I do prefer the smaller locations: Only one or two items per spot, doing those very quickly. I tend to “lose” the images in big locations where it is not so clear, which part of it I made the association to. For long-term learning in university I preferred bigger locations for having more chances to expand the images or increase the number of images in one spot, while being slower learning and having repetitions.

For the first journey, the first set of locations, I would make the opposite recommendation to Dai. I suggest my students to have very specific small items as locations. In my seminars I always start the first journey in the seminar room placing at least 10 locations in the room. In my opinion it is easier for beginners to have a specific item to have your image interact with.



That’s interesting Boris. Is it because of the speed of scanning a location in a single room where you can have many things without having to drag yourself across the world to the next location ?

I have to come back Boris. Regarding this bar of soap. You can imagine may things with this bar. How is this so ? to you, is it like a chessboard perhaps > You know how a chessplayer will use memory and have each square predetermined by a system lile, A2, A2, B1 and G7. Is this what you mean ? It makes some sense from the view of an artist that after a time you will split a scen up and mentally hold some section of squares against the view of a shape of landscape. I never heard it in the context of a bar of soap. Will you describe this please ?

Sorry about that… I missed what you were saying and then what DoubleHelix was saying. :confused:

I have a journey that goes past there too – walking from Little Ben to Westminster Abbey…

Scan time will vary. In a very familiar location like a person’s lounge, even a non-trained person would have a very fast scan time of the location. Where the location is familiar but, not reinforced so often, as with say, a local restaurant, that scan time can be improved by mentally scanning the location so, training the location itself. Scan time will increase for locations as it does with objects and people. The more we see something or someone, the more important it will appear to our brain thus, justifying the brain concentrating on it at some point rather than just passively observing. Hence the Sherlock Holmes saying, you see but, you do not observe. Really, we don’t need to observe in this way. We can survive by cheery-picking the best bits. The food, water, dangerous/desirable places/animals/people.

We can see the same person every week at a certain location. They may wear a badge with their name as a person at a supermarket till would perhaps. Even so, we may not think there is any reason to look at the name. If there is a reason, you are likely to look at the badge. If there is no reason, the face itself will be familiar as someone who might help you as part of their job and such a person would not generally be perceived as a threat or potential mate. If they were, you would be more likely to concentrate. They aren’t the source of the food you are buying but, there is an association with the person and the food. But, you aren’t competing for the food with them. It’s this same desire for security that makes people compete for jobs when they don’t like the jobs. The job represents money, the money historically was invented to measure an amount of food to be traded or some other material that is deemed essential. Like things to keep you warm. Clothes or a tent perhaps. So anyway, once we determine a person has not benefit to us and that they are also not a threat, we determine them to be safe but, if they are helpful, they might have some use so, we will remember their face.

We do this from the moment we are born. When you were born, the only defence you had as a baby was to compare the safe face of your mother to other faces. You learned fast how to recognise expressions and were ready to scream when the evil one came along and pulled a face at you.

Dai, a note on something you said a few posts up, about “you cannot fit a square peg into a round hole. A shelf can only hold a box of a certain size, and…locations are no different.”

Though in a very strict sense, this seems mistaken, I am not quite disagreeing with you here. That is. I am not disagreeing with the point you are making. One of my first posts on this forum wass asking for help with just this, and recently, the solution came spontaneously to mind, and the whole thing ended with an overhaul of my only 100-loci path. Are you familiar with the concept of image “scanning?” In psychology, it is sometimes studied in order to gain greater insight into mental imagery. If you have not heard the term, try this:

Imagine a toy car. Scan your eye from the very front to the very back.

And do it again, but with your own car.

In more scientific settings, the amount of time taken to scan an object has shown to be directly correlated with its size, as is intuitively apparent to any seasoned mnemon ist. But when discussing mental imagery, we can’t sensibly talk about ‘size,’ so maybe a better measure of mental size could be “scan time” (ST). I would argue that a location of a certain ST is only able to optimally hold an image of the same or lesser ST. ST, unlike physical size, is adjustable, so long as a location of a certain size is seen as comprised of enough component parts to warrant a longer scan.

Thanks to Ronnie White, all of my first 100 loci are pieces of furniture and the like. As such, a momentary glance of the loci forces me to ignore many of the details. Furthermore, these loci are amenable to longer STs when viewed as landscapes worthy of them. Now, those 100 loci are 1000 perfectly usable, distinct loci. This seemed less painful than coming up with 9 new paths, but in retrospect, I do not think that is the case. It was an extremely taxing feat. However, when I only use the original 100, which is still most of the time, they now are able to hold very LARGE images more easily, in the same way that a room which usually has ten loci in it can very easily hold a large image if that 10-loci space is used all at once.

Edit: Oh, wow. I see that you covered this exact thing two posts above. I stopped reading this thread to post a reply just as soon as I read that post of yours above that I originally cited.

Dai Griffiths
You don’t need to be world Champion to be the best memory teacher in the World !!!

I was about to give up memory sports, but now i will keep going with a new perspective!!

Dai Griffiths wins!
flawless victory!

Unless you train a lot and use a lot of “Scanning”, it seems that the Dai Griffiths way to do things work better for people who are not good in spatial memory (me, me, its me!!!). I am horrible at it! In chess and blind chess i remember that i would preffer using mathematic to analise positions and find a solution to it.

from 0 years to 20 i almost didn t get out of home. When i got a job, married and started going to places, started parking the car, i discovered that i dont have a good spatial memory. That is one of the reasons i dont like travelling. I will certanly get lost at some point.

Dai Griffiths, if you need help at something preparing material for your students, just let me know
If you want i will send (if i find it) you an excell that create links to google animated images in order to help your students creating good memorable images. But the most important thing i guess it is the LOCI, and things that we are familiar with, as you told…

thank you !!!

Thank you Taijutsu. I hope what I write helps you. That is my intention.

Yes, I think it is important to understand the memory, at least a little. It can be that someone can copy a system and become excellent at it without actually understanding it. Still, they will be more likely to want to learn and have the abiltiy to remember when they do learn. That is how it normally starts for most people, but not all.

I can do more by learning more about memory and a memory athlete can train more by learning a little less by spending time on that. Both working together is a very efficient system I think. Just as it is with a business or production line, when someone is totally absobed with what they love. I love learning about memory and watching those that learn it, if it is for education, fun, speed as in memory sport or anything. Better for the finance director to memorise the company accounts and the research and development director think of creating new ideas by mixing old ideas, then they can talk to each other and see things from a new perspective, without becoming too inefficient by doing something they really don’t enjoy doing.

I trained my memory many years ago, then I changed what I do and continuously write systems and experiments to see how things work and test them on myself under different conditions. Because of this my memory is slow. Of course, if I wanted, I know how to speed it up. To me, I do not see the need, since I do not know ofa subject that I have to learn so fast that I cannot remember it perfectly withing the given time-frame.

It is great though that people like to do it fast. I use them as examples to people that wish to learn. If they are the top athletes, probably I will not use them as examples in the beginning, because it might seem impossible, just as it would seem impossible for a very overweight person to run very fast like a very healthy person, but they can, just not immediately. They have to train, lose wight, then practice.

A sporting coach or teacher cannot beat his students and in exactly the same way, neither can I, if they train to be fast. I do not mean because of age, as in memory, age may give many more locations to be used, but at the same time, older locations may fade and people have varting amounts of locations depending on the life they have had and the places they have been. A more social outgoing person probably has more memories of locations due the the emotions shared with others in those locations, good or bad. The younger person is sharper for sure, having better ayesight and general hearlth compared to themself as they get older, so there are benefits to both sides.

I spent many years trying even stupid things I advise my stuidents not to do. I tell my students how to construct and use a location in great detail, then to keep it. IT will become nearly automatic, just as walsking to bed, but I switch the order of locations. I do not mean going backward and forward. I will completely change the order, then rewrite a mnemonic system for it, such as the Major system, or make one up. It causes a lot of confusion, be it helps me understand more. For thousands of years, man has known the science of memory is true, but only about a year ago was the science capable of proving it with someone providing what is considered evidence today. Todays evidence will not necessarily be accepted is avidence in the future, but the brain will continue the same way, naturally at least. Always before the science can prove it, the brain can think it. It seems logical, otherwise there would not be so much science. Unless science to to take one chemical element and bombard it against another element or material, which seems more maths than creativity

Your 3D sounding images seems interesting. I was unaware of them, other than in computer games. I don’t need them, but I do think it would be handy if you made a page on here so that other people could use them. Some competitors take photo’s of locations, some stick pictures to playing cards. If an image is moving, it would have a benefit over this, as movement will stimulate attention, after all, we must concentrate when we sense sound or movement. If we did not, we would get run over buy a bus, or our ancestors would have been killed by a dangerous animal. It is for this reason that we automaticall remember the location in the first place and how we can force concentration, even for people with some attention disorder. Are people with attention disorder all dead because they did not pay attention and walk in front of a bus ? I think not, so it stands to reason that this should be incorporated in a memory system to force attention, jsut as a fast moving large frightening bus does.

I wonder which will come first, your moving images placed on google earth planting false memories into people that one day won’t need to learn how to remember, or a computer implant, so people can’t forget to check their diary and such things. Still, I would teach memory and encourage others to learn it. Better to be ready for a short circuit or powercut in such things. Me, I prefer to see the scenery and smell the world, taste it, feel it. Having technology is great. Having both is better. If I want a cell with a picture of a tree like a computer screen, I will find a way to get myself in prison. Surely then I would revert to my imagination and the memorises of the real thing that I once had. The clarity of the images may fade over time. The feelings don’t fade so easily.

At the moment I am memorising Chinese writing. I may build a system for others to do the same. You might assume that I do this fast. I do not. I love words and the alphabet, so I enjoy plodding along slowly. This slowness of thinking makes me curious. Why does some letter or character have a certain sound ? Why is it this shape. If i train to do it fast, I would find this laborious pretty soon. It seems like there are endless characters in Chinese and that would be unlikely, but the characters are buildings of other characters, just as words are buildings of letters. I know that for me at least, once I make it a system and start to train mixing these, as a memory athlete does wit numbers, putting the two things together soons loses that feeling of creativity. just as bobmarding elements with other elements. The pictures in mind make it more memorable of course, but for me, I don’t want it to be just memorable. I want to enjoy it and to feel it. So, for this reasson, I expect to be pretty bad at reading chinese for some time. Most of the characters that I know, I don’t know what they mean. I have merely memorised the shape. One day, curiosity will kick in and I will ask a chinese person about the character, even though I could look it up in my character lesson stroke order book, along with its history and other information. This curiousity builds my emotion. Emotions are memorable of course. It may seem strange to many, but I am interested in spelling in English. Others are interested in being fast writers perhaps. Not me. Life is short enough, so I will enjoy the journey on this mental scenic train ride the way I like to do it. maybe you like faster train rides. Do it as it pleases you. If you do exactly as someone tells you, then maybe that curiosity, interest and enjorment will disappear and it will become a chore. I hope not. I hope you keep it, then teach others, because once you see that light in someone’s eye the moment they believe in themselves and understand, you will want to feel it again.

Loci in the sky: I just re-read the whole thread. Except whatever ramblings I just posted on the fly. Sorry to be ignorant. I didn’t mean to ignore you. I guess I was busy when I had the notification and forgot.

Anyway, regarding scanning. I think of it like this. The room in which I spent a lot of time would be easy for me to scan. This is easy for two reasons I think. Once, I tend to keep all of the things in a certain place. This is not for memory purposes and some people are the opposite to me.

If I memorise my own room, then I can logically scan this one room much faster that I can mentally travel through different rooms and locations. This, in my opinion, as Boris has also pointed out, it more efficient in terms of speed, which is important to him, but not so to me.

There is a downside. As you know, when you walk into a room, you will automatically scan it, jsut as a new pupply will scan the room, or a baby crawling around. Looking for escape routes, then food and water. Let’s assume the location doesn’t change, then the location feels safe.

However, if the location does change, your brain will start working overtime, even though it is familiar. A friend that changes their furniture around regularly will effect you. You will notice it is different. As if like a camera, you will photograph mentally these parts and compare them to what was previously a safe location, once more establishing that your friends hosue is still safe.

Another thing is that, with a handful of locations, ones that you visit regularly, you will know the location in massive detail. However, for other locations you may be less familiar with the details of the room to such a fine degree. You can learn them of course, but it will not happen naturally unless you make lots of visits to the location. The room as as whole however, will be quite familiar to you, so it makes more sense to use the larger room for most locations.

This way, you are not spending so much time learning every detail of every room in your past, since I assume there are many that you can no longer visit. Of course, you can add fake bits, which I sometimes do, even by accident, but that will take time to construct intentionally.

Both systems are efficient, large rooms and small rooms, but I describe from my own experience of what I think works the best, without making any actual alterations or having detailed familiarity with the majority of locations. No doubt Boris could fit a lot into Big Ben, as it is a big buiilding, but why spend the time studying the architecture when he can just use the whole location as one ? After some time, maybe he will visit it a lot and the more visits, the more details will be noticed. Perhaps not so much with that building, because it is a complicated work of architecture, wlthoug it is a good location, because statues and certain building are protected, so they will not be knocked down or changed as a shop would be.

Changes to a building you have memorised will natuirally cause a distraction, which by definition takes away the concentration from where it is wanted, even if it is in the same location.

I think of it like this, but not in a scientific way. Every time I blink, my brain is taking a photo. After a certain amount of time, the blurred photo become clear in my mind, for locations, peop,le and other things. Then, if that person changes, or the location or thing changes, I get confused and attempt to work out what has changed.

A few days ago I visited my friend. He normally has throwover covers on his sofa. I sat for a while and coudn’t help scanning the room, which I know very well. Not for memory purposes, I just couldn’t help scanning the room. After a while I noticed what had changed. The throwovers were removed. Now, I remember what has changed, even though I was not intentionally trying to remember anything.

The same friend has the same objects and things in his room. Unlike me however, he regularly moves things around. So, I know the objects, but their locations change. Maybe the next time I visit, the small table where I put my drink can last time I visited, will be somewhere else, so I will have to use the coffee table. The chair itself might move, but I will favour the same location, regardless if there is a chair or sofa. The small table to me is more significant as I am likely to imagine breaking it over someone’s head, breaking the table itself, but forcing me to use the coffee table, which I prefer less, has a very small emotional effect on me, because I think, oh, I don’t have the little table now.

Question posed to me via the private messages related to this thread. Presumable the person doesn’t wish to be named:

Hello Dai,
I’ve seen this post and it was very educational to read. There’s one question that I wanted to ask if you don’t mind (there are more, obviously, but this one touches on the problem I seem to have right now as a beginner). You wrote:

My normal recommendation is something I pinched off the Government. 5 a day like fruit and veg. I ask people to make 5 locations per day.
This sound great (and I’m familiar with how small things done every day can really turn out to be very efficient). But I’m not sure I understand this part. First of all I assume you’re talking about (approximately) room-sized locations and bigger, so it does not mean that people should study their apartments carefully in the search of new locations. Does it mean going out and making a new 5-location journey? If so, do these journeys connect to each other somehow to make one longer journey, say 100-locations long? Or maybe you’re talking about using real places and adding 5 imagined rooms to them?
I seem to be stuck without good journeys, hope you can help me a bit here. Any advice is welcome.
Thank you!

Question posed to me via the private messages related to this thread. Presumable the person doesn’t wish to be named:

Hello Dai,
I’ve seen this post and it was very educational to read. There’s one question that I wanted to ask if you don’t mind (there are more, obviously, but this one touches on the problem I seem to have right now as a beginner). You wrote:

My normal recommendation is something I pinched off the Government. 5 a day like fruit and veg. I ask people to make 5 locations per day.
This sound great (and I’m familiar with how small things done every day can really turn out to be very efficient). But I’m not sure I understand this part. First of all I assume you’re talking about (approximately) room-sized locations and bigger, so it does not mean that people should study their apartments carefully in the search of new locations. Does it mean going out and making a new 5-location journey? If so, do these journeys connect to each other somehow to make one longer journey, say 100-locations long? Or maybe you’re talking about using real places and adding 5 imagined rooms to them?
I seem to be stuck without good journeys, hope you can help me a bit here. Any advice is welcome.
Thank you!

My response to the question:

I mean 5 locations that you already know. If you happen to know 100 in order, you only have to do five of them for a given. The reason I say this is efficient, when it might seem small and too easy, isx because the rules regarding long term memory.

Herman Ebbinhaus created something called the ‘Rule of 5’.

The rule if 5 states that if we want to store somthinng in long term memory, we have to memorise it, then review it 5 times. There are breaks during this reviewing period and the brain will learn that the information is important so, sotore it in long term memory.

It goes like this:

1 - Memorise then Recall immediately.
2 - Review the next day.
3 - Review in one week.
4 - Review the next months.
5 - Review in three/six months.

So, if we take the information you have, which is to memorise and recall 5 items, we can see that it is a lot more work than just those 5 items in reality. If I said to you, go and review 50 items per day, as a newcomer, you would probably see this as reasonable, yet possibly challenging. But when making a review plan is needed, you won’t have time to do the work, sop you’ll put it off.

Comopetitors at memorty competition do not want to remember a random deck of cards long term, but they do use the same principles as the rule of 5, but shorten the time frame.


1 - Memorise deck 1, then review.
2 - Memorise deck 2, then review.
3 - Memorise deck 3, then review.
4 - Memorise deck 4, then review.
5 - Memorise deck 5, then review all 5 decks again.

Depending on how good the competitor is, it may be that they only review upon reaching the fifth deck, tenth deck, fifteecnth and twentieth, but the point is that you taker whatever you wish to learn, no matter how much, nor how little, then break it up into a series of smaller groups for recalling.

Whenever I refer to locations, I refer to them as ‘familiar places’. It is this familiarity that makes the location good. Over time and use other locations will become good, but they will never be as good as the places where you have shared emotional experiences.

5 locations per day for 300 days is 1,500. Probably enough for nearly any purpose.

Also, as you said, there are more details about some locations, so where you have vastly more detailed knowledge of a place, then maybe you will decide to split it into more at some point. Arguably, you won’t have many of these locations, because it’s unlikely you will know so many places in great detail without studying them, which means they are not already familiar in such detail, but the general room layout may be.

Here’s an article about Ebbinhaus: