Mnemonic medium prompts can extend the main text’s discussion, not just repeat it

Some of the most interesting Quantum Country prompts say something that isn’t explicitly in the text. They make inferences or note implications from the text. Or they reframe a long passage’s ideas from another angle. These kinds of prompts are particularly valuable because they help you build connections.

Must those discussions occur in the prompts? Of course, the main text could itself include these kinds of inferences and implications and connections—then the prompts could simply repeat those ideas. But what’s going on here is much more interesting: the prompts are put into conversation with the prose. The prose states an idea, and the prompts elaborate on the idea, turn it around and examine it from another angle, etc. Phrasing this material as prompts instead of as prose substantially changes the character of the experience. It lends some novelty to the prompts—makes them part of the expressive reading experience, rather than rote repetition. And in some cases, the elaboration could feel tedious if it continued in the main body.

In practice, we haven’t done all that much with this yet.

In what senses is the mnemonic medium more than an annotation layer on ordinary prose?

Some examples from Quantum Country

  • summary questions: “Why is it that systems which make good quantum wires are often hard to build quantum gates for?” “How many computational basis states does a quit have”?
  • distillation questions: “What’s the inverse of X?”
  • exercise-ish questions: “Write the following vector in ket notation”
Last updated 2023-07-13.